The European Commission today approved the merger of Bayer and Monsanto, paving the way for the creation of the world's largest and most powerful agribusiness company.
The approval is subject to the two companies selling off a series of assets, including a number of seeds and pesticide products. However, given that the agribusiness sector is already highly concentrated, these businesses will be bought by similarly large competitors.
The proposal allows BASF access to their expanding digital farming businesses. The creation of these massive farm data collection platforms will enable the merged Bayer-Monsanto, as well as BASF, to increase their control over farmers and cut out competitors, and allow it to become the dominant 'Facebook of farming'.
Adrian Bebb, food and farming campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "This merger will create the world's biggest and most powerful agribusiness corporation, which will try to force its genetically modified seeds and toxic pesticides into our food and countryside. The Commission decision also allows them, together with BASF, to become data giants in agriculture – the 'Facebooks of farming' – with all the pitfalls that entails. The coming together of these two is a marriage made in hell – bad for farmers, bad for consumers and bad for our countryside."
Over a million people called on Competition Commissioner Vestager to block the merger, and opinion polling suggests 54% of EU citizens thought it was "very" or "fairly important" that the European Commission blocked it – more than three times the number that thought it was unimportant.
The merger still needs approval in other major markets, such as the USA and Russia.