What the Monsanto-Bayer Merger Means for South Africa

This past December 2016, Monsanto shareholders agreed to the sale of their company to German Agro-chemical and seed company Bayer, for $66 million US Dollars. It will be the largest ever foreign corporate takeover in US history. The newly merged company will now control 29 percent of the world’s seed markets, and 24 percent of the world’s pesticide market. AGRA Watch partner The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) with the support of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Foundation, has published a paper called, ‘The BAYER-MONSANTO merger: Implications for South Africa’s agricultural future and its smallholder farmers”, outlining the proposed merger.

ACB is headquartered in South Africa, where Bayer and Monsanto are major actors in the seed and agrochemical industries. This deal will require approval from about 30 regulatory agencies around the world, including the South Africa’s Competition Commission.

ACB explains how the Monsanto-Bayer merger is happening against the backdrop of other mega-mergers also consolidating the agrochemical and seed markets, including genetically modified seed markets. Six agro chemical giants will soon become three, as US chemical giants Dow and DuPont merge in a deal estimated to be worth US$130 billion, and China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) and Swiss-based Syngenta merge in a deal worth around US$43 billion.

According to the report, if all the mergers are approved, three corporations will control 60% of the global commercial seed market and 64% of the agrochemical market. The corporations will also be able to claim “too big to fail” status, setting the stage for future bailouts using public resources, and further reducing accountability and opportunities for democratic control of the food system.

ACB points out that these mergers will further push integration between seed and agrochemical market. It will restrict farmers’ choices about what crops they plant and what inputs they use. This model of production will deepen inequality, threaten the integrity of land and water resources, and decrease agricultural biodiversity.

With the full support of AGRA Watch, ACB calls on the South African Competition Commission to reject the merger. They also call of the South African government to rein in the power of corporations and to commit resources towards decentralised R&D in partnership with farmers and consumers for more democratic and sustainable agricultural development.

Download and read the full report PDF.

 

Contact:

Ms Mariam Mayet: Director ACB mariam@acbio.org.za

Dr Stephen Greenberg: Research Co-ordinator ACB stephen@acbio.org.za

Mr Benjamin Luig: Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Benjamin.Luig@rosalux.org

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GM Labeling Victory in South Africa

Amendments have recently been made to South Africa’s regulations controlling the labeling of GM food. Mariam Mayet, Director of AW partner, the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB), attributed much of the force behind these amendments to consumers demanding the right to know. The draft amendments currently require that all locally produced and imported food containing 5% or more GM ingredients or components be labelled as “contains genetically modified ingredients or components.”

Read the full story from ACB’s website here:

http://www.acbio.org.za/index.php/media/64-media-releases/405-consumers-win-gm-labelling-victory

What does the Pioneer/Pannar Seed Merger Mean for South Africa?

 ImageIn a previous post, we covered the acquisition of Pannar, South Africa¹s largest seed company, by Pioneer Hi-Bred, a fully-owned subsidiary of DuPont, a global seed and chemicals company. 
      Since then, the merger has been rejected by a two government competition tribunals, and is still in the appeal process. Although the merger is not yet final, it is important for us all to understand what is at stake for South Africa if this goes through.
  A new report by the African Centre for Biosafety discusses in detail the implications of this merger, and the economic power it will create in the hands of a few. It also discusses why and to what extent the merger will deepen structural imbalances in the South African economy.

Download the PDF of this report from African Centre for Biosafety Website here:
http://www.acbio.org.za/index.php/publications/seedfood-sovereignty/393-thepioneerpannar-seed-merger-deepening-structural-inequalities-in-south-africa

South Africa Approves 2, 4-D Resistant Crops

The South African government has recently approved the use of crops genetically modified to resist the chemical 2, 4-D, a key ingredient used in the making of Agent Orange. The seeds, produced by Dow AgroSciences, do not contain the pesticide themselves, but critics worry that their implementation in the country will lead to a more widespread use of the 2, 4-D pesticide. This could pose serious public health and environmental contamination issues. Several studies have linked 2, 4-D to a higher risk of blood cancer, although the Industry Task Force II on 2,4-D Research Data, an industry lobby group sponsored by Dow Chemicals and other pesticide manufacturers, disputes these claims. 

Read the full story here:
And read about the 2, 4-D corn and the controversy surrounding it here:

DuPont Acquires Local South African Seed Company

The takeover of South Africa’s largest seed company, Pannar Seed, by Pioneer Hi-Bred, a subsidiary of DuPont, has been approved by the Competition Appeal Court. This overturns a previous decision made by the Competition Tribunal, and puts control of the African seed market entirely in the hands of DuPont and Monsanto (who already coImagentrolled 50 percent of the seed market in South Africa). Proponents of this merger maintain that it will serve to improve the use of technology, and bring advanced research and breeding techniques to Africa. However, Mariam Mayet, of the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB), notes that “This will exacerbate the existing situation whereby farmers are becoming irreversibly disconnected from breeding processes and converted into mere consumers of what they originally collectively produced.”

Read more about this controversial takeover here: