The European Commission has approved the acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer. under the EU Merger Regulation. The merger is subject to corrective measures, such as the sale of a comprehensive package, which addresses the overlap of the parties regarding seeds, pesticides and digital agriculture. The divestment of some 6 billion Euros by Bayer “ fully meet the Commission’s concerns regarding competition”, as affirmed by European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager.
As underscored by Navdanya International in several other occasions, the issues related to corporate mergers are not just about trade and competition, as Commissioner Vestager would like to make us think, but also, and above all, about political aspects. We are facing a definite strategy designed to extend corporate control not only on our food but on our democracy. Through aggressive mergers, these big companies are expanding their markets and, by directly addressing political decision-makers, they are increasing their influence and pressure on governments and institutions. Through propaganda they are also undermining independent science to ensure that health and environmental regulations do not interfere with their profit-making activities, thus increasingly leading to the erosion of our democratic principles. By expanding their monopolies on seed and food, chemicals and medicines, corporations are increasing their control over our food and our health. To this can be added other tactics such as data acquisition through digital farming, as well as criminal behaviors such as those revealed in the Monsanto Papers. Those who suffer most from the effects of this system are small and medium producers and low income consumers.
The big six corporations that have control of the world’s production of seeds, pesticides and biotechnologies are enlarging their empire through mega acquisitions. Should all mergers (Monsanto/Bayer, Dow/Dupont, Syngenta/ChemChina) get approved, just 3 companies will be left in control of 60% of the world’s seeds and 70% of agro-chemicals and pesticides. The consolidation of these dominant positions will prevent more sustainable agricultural models to emerge, which increase competition and create different seed supply, agricultural production and trade systems. Furthermore, the extension of the industrial agricultural model will further worsen the already critical impact on the environment, on biodiversity and on climate change, due to the contamination of soil, water and the atmosphere, while contributing only to a small part of the world’s food needs, which is still provided by small farmers.
We are firmly convinced that possible solutions to the many crises we are experiencing must come from the adoption of a model that respects the earth and the dignity of people. All over the world, small and medium-sized farmers are already implementing ecological agriculture, which renews soil fertility and biodiversity and provides healthy and quality food to communities. As Navdanya’s work has shown over the last thirty years, through ecological agriculture, we can grow enough nutritious food to feed the current world population twice, as well as cope with problems related to malnutrition and chronic diseases and create a resilient system capable of mitigating climate change.
We will continue to assert the rights of small and medium-sized producers, who, despite being crushed by these mechanisms, are the only ones able to guarantee a genuine and quality food production. Furthermore, we will not stop fighting this attempt of multinationals to takeover of our food, health and democracy which, instead of being regulated by our elected representatives, are increasingly able to take on the role of regulators through heavy lobbying actions, thus posing a serious threat to our own democratic system .
By Ruchi Shroff, Navdanya International – Lifegate, 12 March 2018
Navdanya, 20 january 2018
Cologne, Bonn – 25-29 April 2017
By Ruchi Shroff, 16 October 2016