There have been ups and downs in the romance between Bayer and Monsanto, but this week they publicly announced their engagement. Monsanto has accepted a $66 billion offer from Bayer, heralding another mega merger between pesticide and biotech corporations.
This has already been a big year for consolidation in the agricultural sector, with Dow-DuPont and Syngenta-ChemChina deals well underway. If all mergers go through, just three corporations will control 59 percent of the global seed market and 64 percent of the pesticide market — raising serious concerns about control of food and farming in the U.S. and globally.
None of these mergers are a done deal yet. There are signs, as reported by Tom Philpott of Mother Jones, that "such hyper-consolidation of markets that are so crucial to the global food supply may be too much for U.S. and EU antitrust authorities to digest." Here's hoping.
The Department of Justice took a look at Monsanto's control of the seed market six years ago. In these 2010 antitrust hearings, thousands of farmers and ranchers spoke out about the impacts of corporate concentration in agriculture, sharing their direct experiences and deep concern for their livelihoods. Unfortunately, this investigation ended in 2012 when the DoJ quietly brought it to a close without releasing any public conclusion.
So here we are, with the "Big 6" corporations already wielding disconcerting control over agriculture — and now making moves to further increase dominance over farming around the world. Not good for farmers, or the rest of us.
Join us in urging the Obama Administration to step in and halt these mega mergers. Allowing the Big 6 to become the Big 3 means doubling down on a model of agriculture that has given us superweeds, superbugs and increased use of hazardous chemicals.
Instead, we need to ramp up investment in agroecological, resilient and productive farming practices. It's time for an entirely different approach.