Thursday September 15, 2016. Ottawa. Reports that Bayer has confirmed its $66-billion takeover of Monsanto are triggering concerns over increased corporate control in the seeds and pesticides markets from groups monitoring the impacts of genetically engineered crops and foods.
Monsanto is already the world’s largest seed company and dominates the global market for genetically engineered crops. In 2013, Monsanto controlled 26% of the global commercial seed market, and Bayer controlled 3%. Monsanto controlled 8% of the agrochemical market, and Bayer controlled 18%. (1)
“This extreme level of corporate control in seeds and pesticides risks the future of food and farming in Canada, and around the world,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.
Bayer and Monsanto are two out of six seed and agrochemical companies that already control 63% of the global commercial seed market and 75% of the pesticides market. (2) In addition to this merger, Dow and Dupont agreed to merge in 2015 and earlier this year, Chinese company ChemChina bought Syngenta. If regulators allow these three mergers, the resulting three companies would control almost 61% of commercial seed sales and more than 65% of global pesticide sales. (3)
Over the past twenty years, seed prices have risen at a faster rate than most other farm inputs, and the price of genetically engineered (GE) seeds is higher than non-GE seeds. (4)
“We need to examine the impacts of these mega-mergers and increasing corporate consolidation in all aspects of our food system,” said Sharratt. “Farmers need access to a diversity of seeds, at fair prices.”
The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network and the Quebec network Vigilance OGM are asking Canada’s Competition Bureau to investigate the potential impacts of this merger on Canadian farmers and farm businesses.
Corporate consolidation in the seed market over the past twenty years has been driven, in part, by the interest in genetic engineering and the potential profits offered by gene patents in particular.
For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 809 1103.
(1) 2013 data from ETC Group December 2015, Breaking Bad: Big Ag Mega-Mergers in Play http://www.etcgroup.org/sites/www.etcgroup.org/files/files/etc_breakbad_23dec15.pdf Unpublished data for 2014 is also available from ETC Group.
(3) ETC Group. 2016. Merge-Santo: New Threat to Food Sovereignty. March 23. http://www.etcgroup.org/content/merge-santo-new-threat-food-sovereignty
(4) Research discussed in “Are GM Crops Better for Farmers?” 2015 from the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network www.gmoinquiry.ca/farmers
The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) brings together 17 organizations to research, monitor and raise awareness about issues relating to genetic engineering in food and farming. CBAN members include farmer associations, environmental and social justice organizations, and regional coalitions of grassroots groups. CBAN is a project on Tides Canada’s shared platform. www.cban.ca