WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2017 – More than 300 groups are asking newly confirmed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to thoroughly investigate – and then stop – the proposed mergers involving six major ag chemical companies.
“The proposed mergers – of Dow Chemical with DuPont, Monsanto with Bayer AG, and Syngenta with ChemChina – are each problematic on their own, with many likely negative impacts on farmers, businesses, workers, and consumers,” the groups said in a letter transmitted to Sessions today. “When taken together, they pose the threat of major oligopolistic outcomes in the industries of farming inputs, research, development, and technology.”
They urged Sessions to closely examine the deals and “enjoin (them) when it becomes clear that (their) impacts will prove detrimental to farmers, businesses, workers, consumers, the environment and our American food system.”
“It is predicted that if all three deals were to close, the three resulting companies would control nearly 70 percent of the world’s pesticide market, more than 61 percent of commercial seed sales and 80 percent of the U.S. corn-seed market,” the groups said in the letter. (See press release here.)
“These mergers will exacerbate and worsen consolidation that the industry has been experiencing for many years,” the groups’ letter said. “In 1996 there were 600 independent seed companies; this number dropped to 100 by 2009. This concentration resulted in crop seed prices more than doubling relative to the prices farmers received for commodity crops between 1994 to 2010.”
Among the groups signing on to the letter, which also was sent to members of Congress and state attorneys general, are Friends of the Earth, Center for Food Safety, Organic Consumers Association, Pollinator Stewardship Council and Farmworker Justice.
All three deals are under review by regulators in the U.S. and European Union. Reuters reported last week that Dow and DuPont have offered to sell off some of their assets in order to gain approval in the EU. The European Commission, the EU’s governing body, is expected to make a decision on the merger by April 4.
DuPont has proposed divesting a portion of its crop protection business and associated research and development, and Dow has proposed spinning off its acid copolymers and ionomers business, according to a statement from the companies.
“The companies continue to expect the merger to close in the first half of 2017 with the intended spins to occur about 18 months after closing,” the statement said.
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Also last week, Syngenta CEO Erik Fyrwald said the company is confident the deal with ChemChina will close in this year’s second quarter. “We expect to get approval from the EU and the U.S.” by April 12, Fyrwald told CNBC.
And the CEOs of Monsanto and Bayer met with President Donald Trump last month, three days before he took office. Hugh Grant of Monsanto and Werner Baumann of Bayer pledged, “after integration is complete,” to invest $8 billion in the U.S. over the next six years, which they said “will create several thousand new high-tech, well-paying jobs.”
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