In case you hadn’t heard, two of the biggest Big Ag and Big Chem firms—St. Louis-based Monsanto and Germany’s Bayer (pronounced buyer)—are merging, with Bayer making the acquisition. It’s gigantic news for farmers, but these companies are big players at garden centers as well. Here’s the PR for the deal (which was included in Garden Center’s bland enewsletter report): “the merger would create access to better solutions for growers so that they can help contribute to closing the gap between supply and demand with the increasingly growing population in the world.” Other reporting has focused on the less aspirational implications of the deal, which aren’t all that hard to figure out. Such as:
-Less competition will likely mean higher prices for already expensive bags of GMO seeds.
-This will make research on new GMOs, with pesticide-resistance and other properties, easier, but not everyone loves GMO crops. They’re actually banned in Germany, the home of Bayer.
-Whether you like GMOs, don’t like them, or don’t care, the pesticide-resistance part is problematic for those who care about insect habitat (“weeds” eradicated by Round-Up) and biodiversity. So this merger is probably not great news for bees, butterflies, and other species we’d like to keep around.
-Both companies have murky pasts—Bayer used to sell heroin and was a Nazi contractor during WWII; Monsanto gave us Agent Orange and PCBs, among other things. Of course, all that was OK back then, but it’s interesting history.
-Biotech hasn’t haven’t been working out all that great for farmers lately, because crop prices are way down, and weeds are evolving to resist glysophate, which makes it necessary to spray the hardcore killers. According to analysis in the Wall Street Journal, many farmers are going back to regular seeds as a result. (Though many still say biotech is working out for them.)
It’s not the kind of marriage that makes me feel warm and fuzzy.
on September 15, 2016 at 8:28 am, in the category Eat This, Gardening on the Planet, Ministry of Controversy.