If controlling access to food means controlling the destiny of humanity, then today the most powerful player worldwide is not a government or a coalition of States, but a single multinational corporation, Bayer, which has just acquired the infamous Monsanto.
Slow Food and other environmental and civil society organizations have been warning about this for two years, and now it has come to pass: Both Europe and the US Antitrust bodies have given the green light to the Bayer-Monsanto merger, which some refer to as ‘a marriage made in hell.’ Yesterday, Bayer was a German pharmaceutical chemical giant. As of today, it is also the world’s largest multinational in the field of seeds, chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
This $66 billion deal is the latest in a global process of consolidation that has already witnessed the merger of DuPont and Dow Chemical, and ChemChina’s acquisition of Syngenta. Now, three multinational corporations control more than 60% of the seed market and 75% of the pesticide and fertilizer market. In addition, one of the most controversial corporations worldwide, Monsanto, known for their global market domination in GMOs and pesticides (in particular glyphosate), Agent Orange, and the Monsanto Tribunal, and opposed by environmental and civil society organizations for decades, disappears from the market as it is absorbed by Bayer.
“This is a very serious outcome, but we should not be discouraged”, says Carlo Petrini, president of Slow Food. “Together with many other organizations, we will do our best to raise awareness and involve more and more people to reverse this privatization process in the seed market. Seeds are alive, they are a common good and they must be accessible to everyone, as they have been for 10,000 years in the history of agriculture. Let us remember that citizens, with their daily choices, have extraordinary power. Terra Madre communities will continue to store and select their seeds, exchange them, and cultivate them carefully without poisoning them with herbicides and pesticides. We all have a duty to support their work by choosing good, clean and fair food, which supports local producers.”