As the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee meets today to examine consolidation in the agriculture seed and chemical industry, nine groups have submitted petitions signed by 708,000 people urging the Department of Justice and elected officials to block several pending mergers that would further consolidate the market for seeds and agricultural chemicals. The pending mergers between Dow-DuPont, Syngenta-ChemChina and Bayer-Monsanto would further increase the control that just a few companies maintain over seeds – the basic building blocks of the food system.
The organizations point out that allowing additional mergers among the biggest players in the already consolidated seed and chemical market will stifle innovation in seed development and worsen the problem of limited diversity and resilience in our seed supply, leaving farmers with fewer options and higher costs.
The organizations joining the call to block these mega-mergers include SumofUs, Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club, Pesticide Action Network, Friends of the Earth, Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, Rural Advancement Foundation International and Clif Bar Family Foundation/Seed Matters.
“The shocking consolidation in the biotech seed and agrochemical industry turns our food system over to a cabal of chemical companies, undermining family farmers and consumers. We urge federal regulators to block these pending mergers to prevent further corporate control of our food system,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter.
“More than 500,000 people around the world have spoken out against dangerous deal between Bayer and Monsanto. The new mega corporation would be the world’s biggest seed maker and pesticide company, defying important antitrust protections due to its unacceptable market concentration. U.S. and EU regulators should recognize the significant risks posed by a Bayer-Monsanto merger and move swiftly to reject this proposal,” said Anne Isakowitsch, Senior Campaigner with SumOfUs, an international consumer watchdog.
“This merger would be disastrous for people, pollinators, and the planet. It will give the pesticide industry even greater influence over policy, compromising independent science and the public interest,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes of Friends of the Earth.
“Just six corporations already dominate worldwide seed and pesticide markets. Additional consolidation will increase prices and further limit choices for farmers, while allowing Monsanto and friends to continue pushing a model of agriculture that has given us superweeds, superbugs and health-harming pesticides. Instead, we need to invest in agroecological, resilient and productive farming,” said Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, senior scientist with Pesticide Action Network.
“The Bayer-Monsanto merger is a clear danger to society. One corporation should not be able to control both the seed and pesticide markets—it’s the fox guarding the hen house. Farmers and consumers alike are raising the alarm that this deal would reduce competition, risk the environment and raise prices—to the sole benefit of Bayer. Antitrust regulators have a clear path to deny this fiasco,” said Alexander Rony, Senior Campaigner for the Sierra Club.
“The continuing consolidation of seed and pesticide companies essentially creates a monopoly of toxicity in control of the world’s seed market and food supply. These agrichemical giants threaten the availability and genetic diversity of seeds that are critical to a sustainable food system and to our ability to respond to the impacts of climate change,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of Center for Food Safety.
“All farmers experience the negative consequences of seed consolidation. Organic farmers in particular are already underserved by the industry because the dominant players only invest in seed technologies and chemical production systems that are in conflict with organic farming practices. Furthermore, these firms aggressively protect their intellectual property rights on seeds, which means less innovation and more restrictions on how seed is used and exchanged, including for research purposes and seed saving,” said Kiki Hubbard, Director of Advocacy for Organic Seed Alliance.
“The last thing that U.S. agriculture needs now is more concentration. What farmers need is more regionally and locally-adapted seeds choices and more biodiversity. Concentration lead to higher seed prices for farmers and lower take home pay,” says Michael Sligh, of the Rural Advancement Foundation International.