Organic Consumers Association

Tell Attorney General Sessions: Protect U.S. Farmers and Consumers. Say ‘NO’ to Big Biotech Mergers!

No Signs 1000x523In an August 16, 2016, memo, then-candidate Donald Trump’s agricultural advisory committee promised to “strengthen our nation’s agricultural industry as well as provide support to our rural communities.”

Yet, just recently newly elected President Trump signaled a thumbs up for the proposed mergers of two of the largest (and worst) agrochemical companies in the world—Monsanto and Bayer.

If the U.S. Department of Justice approves the Monsanto-Bayer merger, and also approves mergers between Dow Chemical and DuPont, and Syngenta and ChemChina, U.S. farmers, consumers and rural communities will suffer devastating consequences.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Protect U.S. Farmers and Consumers. Just Say ‘NO’ to Big Biotech Mergers! Fill in the form on this page to send your message.

A February 13, 2017, letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, signed by nearly 325 farming, beekeeping, farmworker, religious, food safety, and conservation advocacy groups, (including OCA) stated that the mergers of Dow Chemical with DuPont, Monsanto with Bayer AG and Syngenta with ChemChina “are each problematic on their own, with many likely negative impacts on farmers, businesses, workers, and consumers."

The letter goes on to say:

Taken together, these mergers pose significant potential threats to U.S. security interests. If allowed to pass, they could undermine food security in the United States and worldwide; disrupt trade flows; and accelerate the international consolidation of the food and agribusiness industries to the detriment of American farmers, rural communities and consumers. Further, the mergers would eliminate head-to-head competition in agricultural biotechnology innovation, crop seed and chemical markets and reduce opportunities for pro-competitive research and development (R&D) collaborations

That doesn’t sound like protection for U.S. farmers and rural communities—nor for the majority of consumers who are skeptical of GMO foods, and who overwhelmingly disapprove of the use of chemicals like glyphosate and 2,4-D on food crops.

In a recent article about the Monsanto-Bayer merger, Michael Colby and Will Allen point out that while mergers in the agribusiness industry are “nothing new,” this latest round of proposed mega-mergers, all of which surfaced in 2016, “shattered the record for such deals.”

There were $125 billion worth of proposed agri-chemical mergers in 2016, nearly double the previous record of $65 billion in 2010, according to Colby and Allen.

This intense consolidation of the industrial agricultural sector, where only a few corporations control everything from seeds to fertilizers to pesticides, not to mention all the research and development that it also monopolizes, has been devastating to the U.S. farmer. Fewer choices for farmers has meant dramatically fewer farmers, squeezed out by the crushing duality of high-priced inputs and increasingly lower prices paid for farm goods, particularly commodities like dairy, corn, cotton, wheat and soybeans.

In addition to outlining the nefarious histories of Monsanto and Bayer in “Monsanto and Bayer's Chemical Romance: Heroin, Nerve Gas and Agent Orange,” Colby and Allen also point out that 50 years ago, in a less lenient regulatory climate, Monsanto and Bayer (which once operated as one under the name Mobay) were forced to separate in order to avoid violating basic antitrust regulations.

But that was then.

The Trump administration, in its unabashed disdain for all things regulatory, has made it clear that corporate profits—not public safety—are top priority. In fact, when he signed his executive order to roll back critical environmental protections, Trump ceremoniously handed off the pen to Andrew Liveris—CEO of Dow Chemical. (In another sign of mutual admiration, Trump recently appointed Liveris head of the American Manufacturing Council).

Instead of handing over more power to agribusiness corporations whose sole raison d'être is to sell massive quantities of poisons, the U.S. Justice Department should stand up for farmers and consumers, not chemical companies. The future of agriculture—American and international—lies in working with nature, not against it, and in providing support for local, independent farmers who employ regenerative practices that produce abundant, nutrient-dense, chemical-free food and strengthen local economies and communities.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Protect U.S. Farmers and Consumers. Say ‘NO’ to Big Biotech Mergers! Fill in the form on this page to send your message.