September 13, 2016
German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG seems to know no limits in its quest to acquire the world’s most notorious agricultural company. The drug manufacturer has recently pushed its offer for procuring Monsanto up to a whopping $65 billion.
Bayer has confirmed that the two corporations are currently engaged in “advanced negotiations,” though it seems less like negotiating and more like Monsanto trying to take Bayer for everything they have. The original offer from Bayer averaged out to $122 per share, or $62 billion. Their new $65 billion offer averages out to about $127.50 per share. Bayer would also assume Monsanto’s $9 billion in debt, which pushes their offer up by an additional 2 percent. However, Monsanto is apparently seeking a jaw-dropping $130 per share, at least according to Bloomberg.
The attempted wooing of Monsanto is just one of many consolidations that have occurred lately in the agricultural industry. Bloomberg reports, “China National Chemical Corp. agreed in February to acquire Syngenta AG, while DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical Co. plan to merge and then carve out a new crop-science unit.” These kinds of deals in the crop and seed industry threaten to leave just a few oversized global giants in the Big Ag industrial complex.
If Bayer and Monsanto were to merge, they would create what would be one of the world’s largest agricultural suppliers. Monsanto is presently the world’s largest seed manufacturer, and Bayer currently offers their own “crop-protection” products (if you can really call them that). Between the two, they will make for a nearly-untouchable conglomerate. Monsanto has announced that it is considering Bayer’s offer, but the company is not the GMO giant’s only suitor; several other companies are seeking to acquire Monsanto as well.
In spite of their tremendous offer, Monsanto reportedly feels that their company is somehow being undervalued, but is still “open” to negotiation. Clearly, Monsanto is blind to the growing aversion to its name and products.
While the apparent ego of the company is worrisome, there are many more things to be concerned about, especially if this deal were to come to fruition. If two massive companies tied to the agricultural industry join forces, it could spell disaster for farmers and food prices. Their consolidation would lead to fewer choices for farmers, and you know what happens when there is a monopoly: prices skyrocket. With farmer bargaining power limited, it’s natural to expect seed prices to increase. And that means that the price of produce in supermarkets will increase along with them.
Robert Lawrence, a professor from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the founding director of the Center for a Liveable Future, told Market Watch, “The consolidation and driving out of smaller competitors, and controlling the marketplace and raising prices of seeds and pesticides for farmers worldwide is going to be a real shock to the food system.”
The merger could also mean fewer options for consumers, and may even effect the availability of organic crops and crops grown with fewer pesticides. Given the size of the two companies, the potential for them to further reduce farmers’ options is very real.
You would think that with the growing demand for organic, pesticide-free produce, Bayer would not be so interested in Monsanto; after all, that name has become something of a dirty word.
However, Bayer reportedly took Monsanto’s poor image into account, but made their offer to acquire the company anyway. This isn’t surprising though; anytime two large companies such as these merge together, the net result will always be more power. Even if people don’t like them, the increase in market share will still inevitably yield more economic power. And with economic power comes political power. As if Monsanto doesn’t already have their claws deep enough into our political system, merging with Bayer would surely grant them invincibility.
The most frightening thing about this acquisition is its potential to make Monsanto a stronger force in the agricultural industry, and consequently, further reduce the availability of non-GMO foods.
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