Agriculture’s biggest deal ever will leave farmers and consumers paying more for less, and could accelerate a potentially catastrophic decline in the diversity of what we plant and eat.
A wave of Big Ag mergers is threatening to entrench a food system that reduces nature’s edible abundance to a handful of plants on your plate.
Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, has been purchased by Bayer, the German pharma and agrochemical multinational. Bayer paid $66 billion — the biggest cash buy-out in history.
The stakes could not be higher. The deal threatens to put the genetic erosion of the world’s food supply on steroids, just as serious doubts are emerging about the genetically modified organism (GMO) “revolution” that began 20 years ago and the claim that US-style industrial farming will “feed the world.” The risks of monoculture are well documented: more than one million people died of starvation and disease during the Irish Potato Famine (also known as the Great Famine), between 1845 and 1852. It took 168 years to find out what went wrong.
The loss of crop diversity in the United States is already staggering: an estimated 93% of vegetable seed varieties have gone extinct in the last century.
The merger will also lead to higher seed prices. Since Monsanto’s commercial introduction of its GM seeds in 1996, the cost of seeds has skyrocketed. Farmers now pay 325% more for soybean seeds than in 1996, and 259% more for corn. The price of genetically modified cotton has soared 516%.
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