FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Monsanto-Bayer Merger Hurts Farmers and Consumers

Photo Source Jeanne Menjoulet | CC BY 2.0

The U.S. Department of Justice issued a stern warning in its lawsuit against the conditionally-approved mega-merger between Bayer and Monsanto in June.

The anti-competitive price effects of the merger would, according to the DOJ, “likely result in hundreds of millions of dollars per year in harm, raising costs to farmers and consumers.” The Justice Department warned that the combining of Bayer and Monsanto would reduce competition for vegetable seeds, likely driving up prices. Further, farmers might see prices for GMO cotton, canola, corn and soybean seeds increase, as well as price increases for herbicide and seed treatments.

After imposing some limited divestments on Monsanto, the DOJ approved this merger, enabling Monsanto to hide its controversial name brand while giving Bayer anti-competitive control over seeds, pesticides, farmers and consumers worldwide.

But the harm to consumers and farmers will still exist.

The DOJ is on the brink of essentially authorizing a monopoly. This is bad news for nearly everyone on the planet except Bayer and Monsanto executives and shareholders. Aside from a combined Bayer-Monsanto, only three other seed companies will be in the market manufacture and sell these products.

Farmers overwhelmingly object to the merger. Ninety-three percent of farmers expressed concern that the merger will harm independent farmers and farming communities. Farmers’ top three concerns were that Bayer/Monsanto “would use its dominance in one product to push sales of other products;” “control data about farm practices;” and that the merger will create “increased pressure for chemically dependent farming.”

Aside from the overwhelming number of farmers that have already voiced opposition to the merger, the DOJ has received petitions from over 1 million Americans urging the agency to block the merger. This month, thousands of farmers and Americans resubmitted comments urging the agency to reverse its harmful conditional approval. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller joined a letter with the state attorneys general from California, Massachusetts, Mississippi and Oregon submitted a letter opposing the merger.

Bayer and Monsanto’s merger comes at a moment when powerful companies push farmers into dependence on their products, locking farmers into long-term contracts.  A consolidating food system means less choice for consumers.

“This mega-merger will give the company a stranglehold on the vegetable seed, cottonseed, corn and soy seed markets, which will only increase prices and put farmers’ livelihoods at risk,” noted Ben Burkett, a Mississippi vegetable farmer and past board president of National Family Farm Coalition.

For farmers, the merger will likely push up production costs. Farmers’ concerns are backed up by history, in which mega-mergers have diminished competition and options for both farmers and consumers while promoting more chemical-based farming — in turn harming our environment and health.

As seed and GMO companies have consolidated over the past 20 years. Much of that price increase comes from companies increasing fees for seeds as they genetically modify new traits into our food. The cost of these new technologies has exploded the price of seeds; between 32 and 74 percent of the price of seed for corn, soybeans, cotton and sugar beets in the United States and the European Union was estimated to reflect technology costs or the cost of seed treatments.

Farmers’ net profits continues to shrink. Reduced earnings have forced most farmers to take on second jobs; 82 percent of U.S. farm household income is expected to come from off-farm work this year, up from 53 percent in 1960.

As the Trump administration moves to give another handout to corporate agriculture, family farmers will pay the price.

Farmers aren’t fooled by claims that Monsanto divestments will make this merger beneficial and non-monopolistic. Consumers and policymakers shouldn’t be fooled, either. On our farms, in our soil and on our supermarket shelves, the merger of Bayer and Monsanto means fewer options for a cleaner, healthier and more farmer-friendly food system.

As the Department of Justice moves to make a final decision, they should stop this merger and save farmers and consumers from this new monopoly.

Jim Goodman is the Board President of the National Family Farm Coalition. Tiffany Finck-Haynes is Senior Food Futures Campaigner for Friends of the Earth.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
April 26, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Stanley L. Cohen
Death Can be a Slow Traveler: Peltier, Mumia and Rap Brown
Vincent Navarro
Why Left Wing Populism Is Not Enough
Peter Linebaugh
The Earth for Their Possession
Jeffrey St. Clair
Never Satisfied: Willie Dixon Refused to Serve…Anything But the Blues
Paul Street
Joe Biden: An Imperial Corporatist Wrapped in the Bloody Flag of Charlottesville
Martha Rosenberg
Corruption and Mismanagement at USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Put Consumers at Risk, Whistleblower Says
John O'Kane
Demonizing the Few to Alienate and Sway the Many
John Feffer
What’s Driving Bolton’s Attacks on the “Troika of Tyranny”?
Ramzy Baroud
Notre Dame of Gaza: Our Mosques and Churches are Also Burning
Andy Thayer
How Chicago Police Infiltrated, Spied on Anti-NATO Organizers
Katherine Weathers – Hy Thurman
The Etowah Visitation Project: Supporting the Needs of ICE Detainees
Conn Hallinan
Turkey: Revenge of the Kurds
Joshua Frank
How Obama Defanged the EPA Before Trump Gutted the Agency
Jennifer Matsui
The Style Section Meets State Craft: Amal Clooney and the Foreign Policy Influencers
David Rosen
Trump and False Consciousness
Ruth Fowler
The College Admissions Scam Isn’t About Education
John Whitlow
Coming of Age at the End of History
Brian Cloughley
Continual Confrontation in the South China Sea
Tom Engelhardt
Suicide Watch on Planet Earth
David Macaray
A Look at the Talent in the Room
Ron Jacobs
Hating the Homeless
Jonathan Power
Measuring National Power
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: Notes on LA’s Underground
Chandra Muzaffar
Sri Landa and New Zealand: The Real Link
John Whitlow
Coming of Age at the End of History
Cassidy Block
The US Has a Moral and Historical Responsibility to Aid Migrants
Tom Clifford
Change of Thrones in Japan
N.D. Jayaprakash
Anti-Satellite Weapons Versus National Security: Part One
Alex Liebman – Rob Wallace
A Lethal Industrial Farm Fungus is Spreading Among Us
Binoy Kampmark
Volodymyr Zelenskiy as Actor President
Martha Burk
The Most Dangerous Time for Women’s Rights in Decades
Christopher Brauchli
Trump Family Affair
Nick Licata
The Green New Deal Died in Congress…It Didn’t Have To
Gary Leupp
Time for Trump to Talk to Putin
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Ghosts of the Matanikau Valley, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
Sam Gordon
Ireland and India – Conflict and Commonality
Ariel Tomlinson
Make College Affordable for People Like Me
Ellen Birkett Lindeen
Shakespeare Talks about Peace
Stacia Tolman
Gloria Bell’s in Hell
Nicky Reid
We Are All Julian Assange!: An Anarchist Soliloquy
Stephen Cooper
Ska King Derrick Morgan Holds Court in L.A.
Dean Baker
Coming Clean on Washing Machine Tariffs
Louis Proyect
Can Humanity and Nature Co-Exist Under Capitalism?
April 25, 2019
Marc Levy
All My Vexes Are in Texas
Jim Kavanagh
Avoiding Assange
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail