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Friday, September 16, 2016

Will the Bayer-Monsanto deal submerge the anti-GMO mindset?

Yes, the word is out and deal is inked. Bayer has clinched a $66 Billion takeover deal of Monsanto. Two big names, becoming one big(ger) name. The tectonic plates in the AgroBiotech industry are rattling big time - Dow and Dupont merger involving $130 billion, ChemChina acquiring Syngenta for $43 billion. Completion of these merger would leave these three companies with more than 75 percent of the global market i.e. US, Germany and China.

Image source: Wikipedia - Traditional farming with oxen in India.
Notwithstanding the impending political and consumer scrutiny, these moves are certainly and steadily going a long way in addressing and controlling world food markets. While China will have the powerhouse of Syngenta's plant-genomics R&D (and hence less outside control), India would be laying itself open to the grace of Bayer (instead of Bayer and Monsanto).

So what does this have to do with 'submerging the GMO mindset'? I am not a finance or a market geek, but more of a science (and it's effects) point of view, person. To us all, till now, blaming GMO meant blaming ... well... Monsanto. You always thought that evils of GMO meant Monsanto right! The name became synonymous with all things bad in plant science besides their monopolistic business practices (not that they were, or, are alone out there). Re-branding wouldn't have helped either 'cos it would be the same issue of GMO once again. On the other hand Bayer, as a brand name , encompasses a wider variety businesses than just GMOs. It also has it's own brand identity. So, looking at it from that angle, there may not have seen a better way out than this. Same goes for, probably, Syngenta-ChinaChem.

Meanwhile this deal also apparently throws doubts over the GMO revolution and the dominance of genetically modified crops - quite counter-intuitive sounding. According to this article farmers are apparently reconsidering the use of biotech seeds as it becomes harder to justify their prices amid the measly returns of the current farm economy. Hence a question arises if such a deal like Bayer-Monsanto or ChinaChem-Syngenta is also an attempt to effectively address the rising costs of Biotech R&D. What I see gradually happening is a shift in this anti-GMO mindset by internalizing such GMO entities it under bigger brand names doing other things like crop protection and agrochemicals. This buy-over will certainly give Bayer the next tag of the 'GMO bad boy' BUT only for a short while. Public memory is short lived you see. So, for now, all of you #BlameMonsanto guys have to rethink your next favorite whipping boy.