Bayer-Monsanto

A Poisonous Vision

a field of corn dpadistorted
How green was my valley - and what would the merger mean?
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The author argues that the agro-industry’s vision is out of step with ecology and human health, and its business model ignores the needs of future consumers at its own risk.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Studies show the growing world population can be fed with organic agriculture.
    • Bayer is to finance the takeover with loans and bond issues, which will hit its equity capital ratio and leave the company less financial leeway for innovation.
    • Bayer-Monsanto isn’t taking future agricultural reform into account, risking a fate similar to energy companies now hit by the energy transition.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

Corporate bosses Werner Baumann of Bayer and Hugh Grant of Monsanto have a vision. They want to be innovation drivers for agriculture, feed the world’s population and achieve enormous growth.

In this vision, diverse, living Earth is reduced to industrial space, where genetically manipulated plants, chemical fertilizers and so-called crop protection products maximize profitable biomass. All plants and organisms perish except genetically manipulated agricultural crops. Farmers become de facto dependent workers whose function is to supervise the spreading of substances delivered by the chemical industry and the harvesting of biomass produced via fully automatic, digitally controlled heavy machinery.

The long-term consequences are infertile soil and contaminated groundwater. It means massive destruction of nature’s value for the sake of the capital value of just a few companies. It can also be expected to destroy diverse rural cultures and vibrant cultural landscapes worldwide.

We owe our life to the health of nature and the environment, as well as healthy food. But the vision of an agro-industrial sector of this kind is not to produce healthy food.

We owe our life to the health of nature and the environment, as well as healthy food. But the vision of an agro-industrial sector of this kind is not to produce healthy food. Only naturally integrated agriculture can achieve this. It also strengthens biodiversity and soil fertility. The global trend toward organic food is the expression of the longing for healthy nourishment. And it can feed the growing world population, as borne out by numerous studies, including by the University of Berkley and the World Bank’s Agriculture at a Crossroads report.

A majority of the population in Europe, where the new company will be based, rejects the agro-industrial vision out of hand. Monsanto’s ongoing revenue problems raise considerable doubts over whether it has recognized the needs of future customers. Bayer intends to finance the purchase mainly with loans and bond issues. This would considerably worsen its equity capital ratio and leave the company less financial leeway for innovation.

Last but not least, Bayer-Monsanto is neglecting to take future agricultural reform into account. The fate now suffered by the major energy concerns could also affect a merged Bayer-Monsanto concern. The biggest takeover a German company has ever aspired to could become the biggest destruction of capital a German company has ever been responsible for.

 

To contact the author: gastautor@handelsblatt.com.

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