Press release 19 July, 2016
Coalition against BAYER Dangers (CBG)
BAYER’s arguments unconvincing
In early June the organisers of the MONSANTO tribunal wrote an open letter to the BAYER corporation. In it the Indian activist Dr Vandana Shiva and the German Green Party politician Renate Künast, amongst others, posed some questions about the planned acquisition of the US agro-corporation MONSANTO. But they received only scanty answers from the global player. The corporation does not say if it will be liable for all of the damages and contamination caused by MONSANTO. Neither does it want to talk about any special bonuses for management if the bid is successful. Instead it keeps repeating the same old phrase like a broken record that the primary aim of the deal was to find better solutions for feeding the world. BAYER’s promise is: “Together we will be able to develop new solutions for agriculture even faster”. Toni Michelmann of the COALITION AGAINST BAYER DANGERS has rejected this as pure rhetoric: “There is a massive lack of innovation in the agricultural sector. The acquisition of MONSANTO enables BAYER to continue raking in billions in guaranteed profits due to its monopoly position.”
In this context Michelmann points to a recent study by the Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE) according to which mergers and acquisitions paralyse research. The study focussed on transactions in the pharmaceutical industry and found that R&D budgets were shrinking by about 20 percent. Moreover, the researchers found that competitors were also affected; due to the diminishing pressure to innovate less money was invested in their laboratories, leading to a less dynamic sector on the whole.
Michelmann does not even believe in any good intentions on BAYER’s part: “Just a glance at BAYER’s and MONSANTO’s product range shows that the two agribusinesses are hardly interested in feeding humanity. Their main products soy and maize are mainly grown as animal feed for the global meat industry.”
Besides, the vast acreage needed for these crops increasingly displaces the land under cultivation for absolutely essential staple foods which is illustrated by the current situation in Brazil, according to Michelmann. There the price for beans, the main food of the poorest of the poor, has dramatically increased because there is hardly any land left on which to grow them. The cash crops produced for the global market have displaced the pulses. As a solution to the “bean crisis” the Brazilian government now considers importing them from China.
Thus, the agri-giants are part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Vandana Shiva put it like this on the fringe of a press conference co-organised by the COALITION AGAINST BAYER DANGERS: “Companies like BAYER and MONSANTO pose an increasing danger for biodiversity and soil fertility which is a threat for humanity and the whole planet.”
With the merger this threat will be many times greater. The EU Competition Commissioner Margarethe Vestager has announced that she will closely scrutinise the BAYER MONSANTO merger with a close look at the effects on prices, biodiversity and innovation, but the COALITION AGAINST BAYER DANGERS does not expect much from it. Board member Axel Köhler-Schnura stated that “there is not much that BAYER has to fear from the EU apart from a few conditions”. That’s why he advocates stricter measures: “For years BAYER, MONSANTO, Dow etc. have been playing a cynical game of monopoly, gambling with the food supply of humanity, the only aim being to increase the profit for their shareholders. This shows that the corporations are not meeting their responsibilities. That’s why we demand to put them under public control by citizens.”