Bayer’s buyout of the biotech giant will allow Monsanto to hide in the shadows. Action Alert!
Bayer, the German pharmaceutical company, is wrapping up a $63 billion dollar purchase of Monsanto, and has said that it will retire Monsanto’s name. It will become impossible to know which products are being sold by what was formerly Monsanto, because they will now be sold under Bayer’s name, or perhaps one of their many subsidiaries.
Dropping Monsanto’s name comes as no surprise: the seed company is one of the most hated companies in America and will no doubt benefit from being outside of the limelight.
Their reputation isn’t exactly unearned. Monsanto is responsible for some of the most horrific chemicals in our environment, things like Agent Orange, which caused 3 million people to have health effects and 150,000 children to be born with birth defects during the Vietnam War. We have Monsanto to thank for PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), which the EPA banned in 1979 due to the environmental contamination and severe health issues they caused. And let’s not forget glyphosate, the active ingredient in the Roundup herbicide, which has been linked to a number of serious health effects, including cancer.
The problem is that, when a product was released under the Monsanto name, concerned members of the public knew to be wary of exposure to the product. Bayer does not have the same recognition, or the same reputation, as Monsanto, so if Monsanto products are now sold under the Bayer name, consumers will not apply the same scrutiny as they might have otherwise.
In truth, though, Bayer may deserve a spot in the “most hated companies in America” alongside Monsanto. We are in the midst of a calamitous decline in pollinator populations, with serious implications for the environment and life on this planet, and one of the chief suspects in this catastrophe are neonicotinoid pesticides—one of Bayer’s cash-cows.
The merged Bayer-Monsanto will control 25% of the world’s seeds and pesticides. We noted previously that Syngenta, which supplies one-fifth of the world’s pesticides and 10% of soybean seeds to US farmers, is set to merge with ChemChina, a state-owned Chinese company. Dow Chemical and DuPont are also merging. These mergers mean that three companies will control the lion’s share of the world’s agricultural services, from seed production, to the herbicide and pesticide sprays that go on them, to the biotechnology used to produce them all. Monsanto/Bayer, Dow/DuPont, and Syngenta/ChemChina will sell 59% of the world’s seeds and 64% of the world’s pesticides.
The consolidation of the biotech industry means that consumers must be even more vigilant in the coming years for products that negatively impact human health and the environment. In the meantime, we still have known quantities, such as Roundup and glyphosate, that are dangerous and must be removed from the market—no matter what name appears on the bottle.
Action Alert! Write to Congress and the EPA and tell them to ban glyphosate. Please send your message immediately.