(UR) Germany — Bayer just named the right price to take over Monsanto after months of back and forth negotiation. The company Bloomberg has named as the third most hated in the world is about to get a facelift, conveniently “disappearing” a brand name that conjures disdain everywhere through the ink of a pen and a friendly handshake. The German health care giant will likely merge with Monsanto with a $128 per share takeover, valuing the company at $66 billion, debts included.
White Washing Monsanto’s Tarnished Name
The merger is being publicized as a way for Bayer to expand their genetically-modified seed; ‘crop-protection,’ otherwise known as pesticides; and other agricultural specializations — but more likely, it is a way to capitalize on the company’s established reach while Monsanto continues to fumble sales figures for both its best selling herbicide, RoundUp, and its genetically altered, transgenic seed. More importantly, Bayer could gobble up the company’s remaining seed and chemical markets while whitewashing its name.
Both companies’ leadership have been touting the need for genetically modified crops as our population growth continues to expand, ignoring countless studies that small, organic farms could easily feed the world. They argue the challenge of feeding the masses cannot be met without using their health-damaging technologies.
Bayer said last week,
“This challenge requires a new approach that more systematically integrates expertise across Seeds, Traits and Crop Protection including Biologicals with a deep commitment to innovation and sustainable agriculture practices.”
Bayer is most famous for producing aspirin, and Monsanto, infamous for a laundry list of distasteful practices including the creation of nuclear weapons, Agent Orange, dioxin, DDT, PCBs, Aspartame, Saccharin, bovine growth hormone, probably-carcinogenic glyphosate, genetically-modified ‘suicide’ seeds, and polystyrene.
Those who are leery of the merger, since it will create a biochemical and agricultural juggernaut the world has never before experienced, are hoping that the European Commission in Brussels will reject it.
Jan Pehrke, from the German non-governmental organization Coalition Against Bayer-Dangers, says that a rejection is unlikely, though. Perhrke stated,
“They may force Bayer to sell its cotton business, or some of its pesticide businesses, because of competition concerns. But they can’t force a rollback of the new combined concentration in the market.”
In Germany, the reaction to the probable merger has been particularly strong. In previous years, Monsanto was forced to pull out of the German market, along with several other E.U. countries, due to moratoriums placed on GM crops.
When German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung asked whether Bayer would drop Monsanto’s tarnished name, Chief Executive Werner Baumann said,
“Suffice to say that Bayer enjoys an excellent reputation and appeal worldwide. We must take advantage of that.”
The Bigger Picture Beyond GMOs
Bayer is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, not without its own detractors, and Monsanto, itself, spun-off into Pharmacia LLC, wholly owned by Pfizer, another pharmaceutical powerhouse.
As revealed by Monsanto’s own website:
“Prior to Sept. 1, 1997, a corporation that was then known as Monsanto Company (Former Monsanto) operated an agricultural products business (the Ag Business), a pharmaceuticals and nutrition business (the Pharmaceuticals Business) and a chemical products business (the Chemicals Business). Former Monsanto is today known as Pharmacia LLC. Pharmacia is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Pfizer Inc., which operates the Pharmaceuticals Business.”
Many are concerned that, with this merger, the ‘revolving door’ policy between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, E.U. health regulators, the pharmaceutical industry, and Big Ag would simply morph into one self-regulating, behemoth — with no need for any doors at all.
For example, Michael R. Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for the FDA, once worked worked for the law firm King & Spalding, where he lobbied for Monsanto and established the firm’s “food and drug law” practice. Taylor later took a newly created position at the FDA, as Deputy Commissioner of Policy. Following this, he returned to King & Spalding, then went back to Monsanto as the VP for public policy. Finally, in a seemingly never-ending game of corporate-government musical chairs, he again became a senior advisor to the FDA, in yet another newly created position, titled Deputy Commissioner of Foods.
Another example of private-public permeability is that of Assemblyman Henry T. Perea. He resigned from the California Legislature and moved to a new job leading political operations in Arizona, California, and Nevada for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a trade group representing the world’s largest pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, such as Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Merck & Co, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, and many more.
PhRMA is one of the largest lobbying groups in the U.S., familiar with influencing politicians to do their bidding. In one case, the organization helped to pass legislation that would eventually allow cancer medications to be sold in America for 600 times more than in other countries.
Bayer AG sells an enormous number of cancer drugs in order to gain a bigger share of the almost $100 billion global market for such treatments; and Monsanto arguably contributes to this market considerably.
Yolanda Mendoza is suing Monsanto for her non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, and after glyphosate was labeled a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organizations’ International Agency for Research on Cancer, more than seventeen different scientists published similar findings in the Lancet.
As a further matter, according to evidence unearthed from the archives of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), Monsanto was fully aware of the potential of glyphosate to cause cancer in mammals as early as 1981.
What Could Happen If One of the Largest Cancer Drug Makers Merges with One of the Largest Cancer Creators?
Once a corporation becomes large enough, the government ceases to regulate them and instead the corporation begins to regulate even create government policies. Monsanto was already doing this, and a company twice the size, should the Bayer-Monsanto merger go through, could arguably have twice the overarching influence.
In a country where cancer, neurological disorders, depression, obesity, heart disease, endocrine disruption, and other health problems are at an all time high, of course there is no cause for concern should Monsanto’s name simply be replaced with another’s while public health continues to decline.
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