29.03.2017 |

EU clears DuPont-Dow merger, despite concerns raised by civil society

Letter against mega mergers of agricultural giants (Photo: CC0)

The European Commission has approved a merger between agribusiness giants Dow Chemical and Du Pont, despite warnings of civil society organisations that this would be a threat to farmers, consumers, the environment, and food security. On Monday, the EU regulators gave green light for the $130bn mega-merger, the first in a new round of agribusiness takeovers which also includes the planned mergers between Syngenta and ChemChina as well as Monsanto and Bayer. The Commission cleared the deal on the condition that DuPont will sell off large parts of its global pesticides business.

On Monday, more than 200 organisations sent an open letter to Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, calling on the European Commission to reject the impending mergers of the world’s biggest agrochemical and seed companies in an already concentrated market. The farmers’, beekeeper, religious, international development, and environmental groups warn that the proposed mergers of Dow Chemical with DuPont, Monsanto with Bayer AG, and Syngenta with ChemChina will lead to an unacceptable monopoly, with three companies controlling around 70% of the world's agro-chemicals and more than 60% of commercial seeds. “Approving these mergers works completely against the rights of peasants, with far reaching effects in our society,” said Ramona Duminicioiu of the farmer organization “European Coordination Via Campesina” in a press release. “The already fragile rights of peasants regarding seeds, land and markets risks of being obliterated by these mega-corporations.” The organisations fear that increased market dominance would further restrict the diversity of seeds, harm farmers’ freedom of choice and their rights to save their seeds. They said that more market control would also reduce the food choices of European consumers.

In their letter, the organisations also warn that these mergers risk major monopoly outcomes that would further increase the use of agrochemicals. The result would be reduced diversity of farming and a greater dominance of monoculture farming with its heavy reliance on chemical inputs, which would further harm the environment, biodiversity, and human health. “Europe's food and farming system is broken and if giant firms, like Monsanto and Bayer, are allowed to merge they will have an even tighter toxic grip on our food,” said Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe. “The mergers are a marriage made in hell and should be blocked by regulators,” he added. “We need to build a fairer and greener food system out of corporate control.” The Commission said it was concerned that the Dow-DuPont merger would have reduced competition for existing pesticides in a number of EU countries. “We were only able to agree to it, because the companies offered to sell off a significant part of their business, to preserve effective competition,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. (ab)

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