Following an in-depth investigation, the European Commission approved on Wednesday 21st March the proposed €56 billion buyout of US agri-giant Monsanto by German chemical firm Bayer, after securing concessions from Bayer. The deal will create the world’s largest integrated pesticides and seeds company and has raised concern among activists. “We have approved Bayer’s plans to take over Monsanto because the parties’ remedies, worth well over €6 billion euros, meet our competition concerns in full,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief.
Brussels made the decision despite opposition by environmentalists who fear that the deal gives too much power to the world’s leading manufacturers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the controversial weedkiller glyphosate. EFA food safety spokesperson Bart Staes said, “This merger is bad news for farmers, our environment and food security. The agriculture industry is already far too concentrated, giving a handful of massive firms a stranglehold on food production. Merging two of the biggest players only makes a bad situation worse.”
The takeover, which had already been approved by Chinese authorities, still awaits approval by US regulators, who have also expressed concerns. Among the concessions obtained from Bayer is the sale in October of parts of Bayer’s agrochemical business to German rival BASF. The deal will see Bayer sell the majority of its crop seeds units and its glyphosate herbicide business to BASF for €5.9 billion. BASF also committed to buying Bayer’s vegetable seed business.