Bayer-Monsanto merger opposed

A new legal opinion has argued that a merger between Bayer and Monsanto would violate the Clayton Act, a law enacted by Congress to curb anti-competitive business practices.

According to the white paper, a Bayer-Monsanto merger would also be in direct violation of a 2008 court order, where Monsanto was forced to divest itself of certain cottonseed and cotton breeding assets, which were sold to Bayer. If the merger proceeds, Monsanto would re-acquire these anti-competitive traits, thereby violating the US Department of Justice’s judgement.

Bayer has bid twice for fellow agro-chem conglomerate Monsanto since May.

The legal opinion, written by two former Justice Department officials from the Antitrust Division,
suggests the merger would "eliminate direct competition between two of the largest players in the traited seed sector, with direct consequences for seed development, herbicide markets, and innovative and open research and development".

It added that a merger "will mean the new Bayer-Monsanto conglomerate will control nearly 70 per cent of the cotton acreage in the United States" and that the "new corporation would likely lead to higher input prices, with less choice and higher food prices for consumers, and fewer non-biotechnology options available to farmers and consumers".

Pressure group SumOfUs's Anne Isakowitsch said: "A merger between Bayer and Monsanto is a five-alarm threat to our food supply and to farmers around the world. This new mega corporation would be the world’s biggest seed maker and pesticide company, defying important antitrust protections, giving it unacceptable control over critical aspects of our food supply - undermining consumer choice and the freedom and stability of farmers worldwide."

More than 500,000 SumOfUs have signed onto a petition opposing the potential merger of Monsanto and Bayer.

The legal opinion was written by Maurice E. Stucke and Allen P. Grunes, counsels at the Konkurrenz group. Stuck is a law professor at the University of Tennessee. Grunes worked at the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division.

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