Could the Bayer-Monsanto merger put the U.S. seed supply under Chinese control?

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Much has already been said by Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) and others about the food security threat posed by the pending mega-merger of Bayer AG and Monsanto Co. The combined company would have unprecedented control of big data and access to patents, gene traits and intellectual property. It would become the world’s largest agribusiness company, with a virtual lock on the seed for corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, and wheat. It would have the ability to further dominate markets and restrict farmers’ rights, forcing the adoption of an industrial model of farming that squeezes out independent family farmers.

Monsanto controls 80% of corn and 90% of soybeans in the U.S., and the merger would transfer that ownership to German-owned Bayer. In his essay for the Modern War Institute, West Point scholar Max Brooks raises an alarming national security issue, pointing out that the U.S. would become vulnerable to food blackmail for the first time in history. Brooks explains:

“American farmers will now be buying those seeds from a foreign power, albeit a friendly one. The Germany of today would never think of using food blackmail against us, but what about the Germany of yesterday? Would we have given Hitler, or even Kaiser Wilhelm the keys to our fruited plains?

That’s exactly what could happen if one day Bayer decides to sell its Monsanto Division to China. Beijing already has economic leverage, and they’re rapidly expanding their military. Now, theoretically, they could have the power to threaten us with a seed embargo if we don’t agree to their demands. Our food insecurity would only last one season, but a lot can happen between fall and spring.”

The prospect of China purchasing Monsanto doesn’t seem far-fetched when we consider another recent Chinese acquisition. In 2013, Shuanghui International (now known as WH Group, which has significant investments from the Chinese government), acquired Smithfield Foods in the largest buyout of an American company by a Chinese company to date. It gained control of not only one in every four U.S. hogs, but also Smithfield’s intellectual property and trade secrets.

Shuanghui International paid an astounding 30% premium over other bidders to purchase Smithfield Foods. If China made that kind of offer to Bayer, how could Bayer refuse? In an interview with Marketplace, Brooks points out:

“There’s nothing in the bill of sale to stop Bayer from selling [Monsanto] to China. And there is nothing to stop China from using food the way OPEC used oil in the 1970s.”

OCM believes that Max Brooks is ringing the right alarm bells. The pending merger of Bayer and Monsanto is not just a food security issue, it is a national security issue. If you agree, contact your members of Congress today and urge them to oppose the Bayer-Monsanto mega-merger.

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