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Commentary. The merger of Bayer and Monsanto strengthens the interests of commerce over people and the environment.

A toxic marriage

The trend toward global consolidations in the agro-chemical industry is being confirmed by a new toxic marriage that took place after months of discussions. The German giant Bayer has acquired the U.S. multinational Monsanto, setting a new record of a merger-acquisition.

This is the largest merger for a German company, even bigger than the Daimler-Chrysler merger in 1998, and, after the DuPont-Dow Chemical merger, it is the latest example in the industry. Bayer offered $66 billion (€59 billion) for control of Monsanto, which would create a monopolistic enterprise with $23 billion in revenue.

It is a marriage between the largest manufacturer of pesticides, Bayer, accused of culpability in the die-offs of bees worldwide, and the world leader in genetically modified seeds, Monsanto, which also produces Roundup, the herbicide that became the symbol of the predation of money on agriculture. Thus, Bayer enters the U.S. market spending billions. And it can afford it, because in the world of finance, money is plentiful, interest rates are very low and commodity prices are falling, thus helping the appetites.

The deal confirms a negative trend in a global market of chemicals and seeds, dominated by huge economic powerhouses.

The race for patents and the battle over biotechnology are at stake. The patents also cover products vital for the survival of human populations, including and especially the poorest countries. Huge unknowns weigh around GMO farming, but the devastation created by the rains of pesticides, for example in Brazil and Argentina, has been well documented, with the indelible traces they leave on the skin and in the lives of farmers and inhabitants.

Bayer, a strong competitor in the pharmaceutical sector that had weaknesses in the seeds sector, now joins forces with the agrochemical giant, outlining a future where the concerns and reasons to protect the environment, often declaimed by politicians for electoral reasons, are overwhelmed by the priorities of economic interests.

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