February 20, 2017

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Corporate Control

Mega-Mergers Pending

Dow and Dupont have agreed to merge, the Chinese state-owned company ChemChina bought Syngenta, and Bayer wants to buy Monsanto. If regulators around the world allow these three mergers, the resulting three companies will control more than 65% of global pesticide sales and almost 61% of commercial seed sales.

Updates

February 16, 2017: Canada's Competition Bureau has cleared ChemChina's acquisition of Syngenta, concluding that "the proposed transaction is not likely to lead to a substantial lessening or prevention of competition." Click here to read the statement from the Competition Bureau.

September 14, 2016: German chemicals giant Bayer has confirmed its record-breaking $66bn takeover of GM seeds corporation Monsanto - a deal that would create the world's biggest seeds and pesticides company. The new company would control approximately 31% of the world's commercial seed market and 26% of agricultural pesticides.

Press Release - September 15, 2016: Bayer’s Takeover of Monsanto Triggers Anti-Competition Fears: Groups in Canada request Competition Bureau review

Comments to the Competition Bureau, Submitted by CBAN and Vigilance OGM, September 15, 2016

Take Action

You can send your comments to Canada's Competition Bureau on the Bayer-Monsanto merger. Click here.

Resources

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. Such a heavily consolidated seed and agricultural input industry makes it easier for cartel-like tacit collusion that raises prices for farmers and other buyers and ultimately consumers while stifling innovation that is propelled by healthy competition in the marketplace. Predictably, more concentration of power and less competition will lead to reduced responsiveness to documented farmer and consumer desire for ecologically sound technologies that are cost-effective and sustainable, meaning less choice in the marketplaces for seeds, inputs and foods.

Current Corporate Consolidation

In 2015, companies Dow and Dupont agreed to merge (click here to read the analysis on impacts of this merger), and earlier this year, Chinese state-owned company ChemChina bought Syngenta. If regulators allow the Bayer-Monsanto merger and these other two mergers, the resulting three companies will control more than 65% of global pesticide sales and almost 61% of commercial seed sales. (Source: Merge-Santo: New Threat to Food Sovereignty, ETC Group)

The markets for genetically engineered (also called genetically modified or GM) crops are dominated by six seed and agrochemical companies. The high level of corporate concentration in the seed market has already meant higher prices and limited choices for farmers. Legal controls, such as patents on genetic sequences, have meant that farmers cannot reuse, save, share or sell GM seeds, but have to buy them from seed companies every year. Patented GM seeds are significantly more expensive than non-GM seed. For information on the impacts of corporate control in seeds, see CBAN's GMO Inquiry report "Are GM Crops Better for Farmers?"

Big Six

The six major companies developing and selling genetically engineered seeds are:

  1. Monsanto
  2. Dupont
  3. Syngenta
  4. Dow
  5. Bayer
  6. BASF
  • Collectively, these six companies control 63% of seeds and 75% of agrochemicals globally.
  • At least 70% of their research and development funds in seeds and crops are devoted to biotechnology and GE crops.

It is estimated that these six companies account for over 95% of all GE crop acres in the world (97% in 2007). Monsanto’s GE traits are approximately 85% of the total GE acreage.

Since the first GE seeds were introduced in 1996, the market share of the world’s three largest seed companies – Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta – has more than doubled.

These six companies regularly cross license to each other, reinforcing their market power. About half of all commercial GE seeds with stacked traits are the result of cross licensing between companies.

Monsanto is the world's largest seed company and, as of January 2013, had filed 144 seed patent infringement lawsuits involving 410 farmers and 56 small businesses in 27 states in the US. Click here to see more information about Monsanto

Reports

ETC Group, May 2015: Monsanto/Syngenta: From Gene Giants to Agribehemoths

ETC Group, March 2013: Gene Giants Seek "Philanthrogopoly" The report takes a look at how the 6 multinational Gene Giants control the current priorities and future direction of agriculture research worldwide.

ETC Group, December 2011:Who Will Control the Green Economy? The 60-page report connects the dots between the climate and oil crises, new technologies and corporate power. The report warns that the world’s largest companies are riding the coattails of the “Green Economy” while gearing up for their boldest coup to-date – not just by making strategic acquisitions and tapping new markets, but also by penetrating new industrial sectors. DuPont, for example, already the world’s second largest seed company and sixth largest company in both pesticides and chemicals, is now a powerhouse in plant-based materials, energy and food ingredients. Other major players like Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, BASF and Unilever are making strategic investments in risky technologies in hopes of turning plant biomass into products and profit.

ETC Group, October 2010: Gene Giants Stockpile Patents on “Climate-Ready” Crops in Bid to Become Biomassters: Patent Grab Threatens Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty. Under the guise of developing “climate-ready” crops, the world’s largest seed and agrochemical corporations are filing hundreds of sweeping, multi-genome patents in a bid to control the world’s plant biomass. ETC Group identifies over 262 patent families, subsuming 1663 patent documents published worldwide (both applications and issued patents) that make specific claims on environmental stress tolerance in plants (such as drought, heat, flood, cold, salt tolerance). DuPont, Monsanto, BASF, Bayer, Syngenta and their biotech partners account for three-quarters (77%) of the patent families identified. Just three companies – DuPont, BASF, Monsanto – account for over two-thirds of the total. Public sector researchers hold only 10%.

Other Resources

ETC Group publishes reports on major trends in corporate agendas to control nature including new patent grabs.

GM Watch profiles of corporate front groups and business associations

Corporate Watch UK profiles of the major biotechnology companies http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/?lid=207

Corp Watch US news on corporate control in Food and Agriculture

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