Well… maybe it should be, but in reality, food hasn’t been simple for a long time. Even if you forget about processed food-like things with a shelf-life longer than you can imagine or want to admit that just thinking about produce is confusing, we all have to worry about not only the freshness and quality of our food, but also if it’s organic and even more so, if it’s GMOd.
Recently Monsanto has accepted the offer of Bayer, a German chemical company to buy out Monsanto for no less than $56 billion. Whether the deal will actually pass regulators is still a question.But if the deal passes, this new merged company will become the largest agribusiness on the planet. 24% of the world’s pesticides and 29% of its seeds will be sold by them. This would mean that they would pretty much have control over a quarter of the world’s food supply.
Because this could create a monopoly in food supply and could put both farmers and shoppers into a difficult situation through increasing prices and unbeatable competition, both the European Union and the U.S. Department of Justice are taking the issue and will likely examine the case more seriously than usual. It creates even more worry that the deal is happening only a few months after the ChemChina-Syngenta and DuPont-Dow Chemical merge into the multibillion-dollar Voltrons.
What would this mean? Will this low competition lead to more innovation and slower improvements in crop yields?Will this new giant company acquire not only monopoly, but major political power? The issue is complex.
The Agricultural Industry Keeps Changing And Is Getting Increasingly More Consolidated
Back in 1994, the world’s four biggest seed companies only controlled about 21% of the market. This number is currently at over 50% because over the past 22 years Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, Bayer and Dupont have bought out a large number of smaller companies along with their patents.
In recent years, the global agricultural economy has been struggling due to an economic slowdown in China and excess of food production. Farmers have been struggling with not being able to afford supplies. As the main seed, chemical and fertilizer companies became stuck in trying to reverse this trend, they figured they needed to consolidate further – all in hopes of keeping profits high and keeping costs low.
Monsanto has been known to be the world’s largest seed producer and has been making profits from selling glyphosate, a popular weed killer, along with crops that are genetically modified to remain unaffected by glyphosate. Basically, they have been selling the ultimate weapon (glyphosate) and the one thing that can survive it is their GMOd crops.
This has already been bad news for us consumers, as GMOs can be very unhealthy and harmful. But let’s leave that story for another time and continue the Monsanto merging story.
Due to some improper use of glyphosate, more and more plants have been developing resistance to it. Monsanto has been trying to find a new weed killer that functions more effectively. The company is also in the process of developing crops that are resistant to another herbicide, dicamba, which is costing them $1 billion. However, this is a process and a possible merge would certainly help to maintain their market share in the meantime.
Only last year, Monsanto attempted to buy up Syngenta, the world’s largest agrochemical producer, but had failed the bid because the company lacked “fundamentally new innovation” needed for growth and has a “saturated core market,” according to Mike Mack, SEO of Syngenta. Now a Monsanto-Bayer merger seems to be the next step.
Monsanto Is Not The Only One
Dow Chemical and Dupontare currently waiting for regulatory approval from the EU and the U.S. after agreeing to combine their crop science divisions last year. The China National Chemical Corporation has already been okayed to buy out Syngenta, the big Swiss seed company for $43 billion. In the meantime, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (Canada) and Agrium have already combined their powers in creating a fertilizer giant.
As these companies merge, the 3 biggest companies – Bayer-Monsanto, Dow-Dupont, ChemChina-Syngenta – will be the companies selling 59% of the world’s patented seeds and 64% of its pesticides.
Why Is This A Problem?
If these merges happen, there are many things to be concerned about. Having only 3 company giants controlling our seeds and pesticides, they can basically do whatever they please. They can easily raise the prices of their products to farmers, which will force food prices to rise as well. No wonder that the National Farmers Union has been so against such merges.
Having only a few top companies, the competition will be much smaller, as well as the pressure to improve crops for a rapidly growing population. We must not forget that we are talking about for-profit gigantic companies that may easily end up focusing on profitable crops rather than branching out to smaller and underserved markets, such as the one in Africa. They will likely focus less on smaller markets, like the markets in the Southeast U.S. as well, but most probably will put their entire attention on monetary profit.
It is still under debate whether the deal will go through as regulators are examining the issue. The U.S. Justice Department has the power and ability to block the deal from happening or add conditions to it.
Another major point to consider is that little overlap between the work of Bayer and Monsanto. Monsanto is all about seeds and things related to biology, whereas Bayer is all about chemicals. It is not only about food either. If the Bayer-Monsanto merge happens, they would control 70% of U.S. cottonseed sales, which could, obviously, become one of their major focuses as they are chasing profit.
Will The Merge Pass?
In the past similar merges had happened with ease, receiving little trouble from regulators. However, this merge is HUGE. Even the U.S. is taking the situation more seriously, but EU regulators are much more critical. The EU has been known to be extremely critical of GMO crops. There is a high chance that the EU will put up a huge fight. Right now it is difficult to tell, but for the moment there seems to be a 50% chance of approval at the moment.
What About The Name: Monsanto?
The name, Monsanto carries a very negative connotation in many people’s mind. Many people are afraid of GMOs and have expressed worries of Monsanto’s control over food and biotechnology. To change public perception, Monsanto has tried a variety of re-branding techniques over the years without much luck.
Considering this negative perception, they may change their name completely. On the other hand, Bayer has a reputable name among pharmaceutical companies. Right now it is too early to speculate, according to Werner Baumann, Bayer’s CEO.
From The Holistic Health Point Of View
Let’s think about this for a moment. Monsanto is a seed and pesticide company. They are basically selling super strong pesticides to kill anything and everything on crops – often including the crops themselves. Then they sell GMO-d seeds that yield GMO crops, which will survive their strong pesticides. As a result, they are basically forcing the world to eat GMO-ridden crops.
Long story short, Monsanto is in charge of many of the crops and as a result, much of the food that people – like you and your family – eat today.
On the other hand, Bayer is a pharmaceutical company. They sell pharmaceutical medicine to people. They have nothing to do with food or biology.
If these companies merge it will give more power to both of them. By Monsanto merging with Bayer, a pharmaceutical company, it means that a drug company will have monopoly on our agriculture – on our food.
Combining pharma with food means thatthey can make you sick with food then sell you drugs to make you feel better, only to sell you more food that will make you sicker.
Grow your own food (without using pesticides).This is pretty much the best way to make sure you know where your food is coming from.
Shop at local farmer’s markets.Get to know your farmers and learn how they are growing their crops.
Buy organic and preferably local produce. Stay away from packaged products and products not labeled non-GMO.
Educate yourself.Read up on the products you are buying. Call up their customer service. Learn more about GMOs.
Don’t go crazy. While it is extremely important to pay attention to where your food is coming from, don’t stress yourself out. Stress and anxiety are not good for your health either. Follow the first four steps and you will create the best chance for health.
Speak up. Educate others. Share this article. Speak up to the government. Whatever step and level of activism feels right for you, do it. Just helping to educate even one person helps.
What do you think about the possible Monsanto-Bayer merge? What are your personal worries? What steps are you taking to keep yourself healthy? Share in the comments below, we would love to hear from you.
Kat Gál is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. She is a lifelong learner who lives outside of her comfort zones stretching her boundaries and discovering beauty around the world. She is a Certified Holistic Health and Life Coach who encourages others to embrace their unique authentic selves, follow their heart and find their own version of freedom in life.
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