Block Bayer-Monsanto Merger, Says Major New Legal Study

Friends of the Earth Europe, WeMove.EU, Food & Water Europe, SumOfUs

For immediate release: Monday October 16

Brussels, October 16 – The proposed merger between Bayer and Monsanto should be blocked under EU competition law, according to a major new study from University College London to be released on World Food Day.

The authors of the report claim that the European Commission should be obliged to block the merger – which is currently under an in-depth investigation from the European Commission – even on a narrow reading of EU competition law.

The analysis concludes that the “Baysanto” merger should be blocked as:

  • It would reduce competition: It concentrates even further an already tightly-packed agriculture sector. Just three mega-companies (ChemChina-Syngenta, DuPont-Dow and Bayer-Monsanto) would own and sell about 64% of the world’s pesticides, and 60% of the world’s patented seeds.
  • It would raise prices and farmer dependency: One-stop inclusive packages of all services needed for agriculture (seeds, pesticides, and also “digital farming” products) would lock farmers into the company’s value chain, making them technologically dependent and facing price hikes in seeds and pesticides.
  • Asset selling won’t solve the crisis: Even if the Commission forces the companies to sell off some products the market is already so concentrated that divesting particular products will not address the merger’s negative effects on future competition in the seeds markets.
  • It would stifle alternative businesses: The three mega-corporations controlling the global food value chain would “entrench the market power of the dominant players for the decades to come”, thereby freezing more sustainable forms of agriculture

The academics also call on the European Commission to broaden its investigation of the merger to take into account the full social and environmental costs, as they are likely to “lead to important risks for food security and safety, biodiversity… [and risks for] affordable food prices, high quality of food, variety and innovation”.

Adrian Bebb, food and farming campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: “EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager has more than enough arguments to block the unholy alliance of Bayer and Monsanto, and send a strong signal that the EU is prepared to stand up to these mega-corporations in order to protect farmers, citizens and our environment.

“The consolidation taking place between these agriculture giants would have major impacts on the future of our countryside, rural livelihoods and our environment. It is vital that the European Commission widens its investigation to ensure that we retain the possibility to move agriculture onto a sustainable and resilient footing to help counter climate change and halt biodiversity loss.”

Earlier this year over 200 civil society organisations called on European Competition Commissioner Vestager to stop the current wave of mergers in the agri-business sector. Almost 900,000 citizens have signed petitions calling for the Commission to act.





Opposition Rises to Planned Agriculture Mega-mergers: Major Threat to Our Food and Farms, Says Civil Society

Brussels, March 27, 2017 – More than 200 organisations –including Food & Water Europe – have today raised their objections to the planned mergers of six giant agriculture corporations.

The farmer, farmworker, beekeeper, religious, international development, and environmental groups claim that the three resulting companies will concentrate market power and “exacerbate the problems caused by industrial farming – with negative consequences for the public, farmers and farm workers, consumers, the environment, and food security” in an open letter to the European Commission and Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager [1]

The European and national organisations – together representing millions of members – state that the proposed mergers of Dow Chemical with DuPont, Monsanto with Bayer AG, and Syngenta with ChemChina will lead to an unacceptable monopoly, with three companies controlling around 70% of the world’s agro-chemicals and more than 60% of commercial seeds.

Ramona Duminicioiu, peasant seed producer of the farmer organization European Coordination Via Campesina said: “Approving these mergers works completely against the rights of peasants, with far reaching effects in our society. When the Commission says that small family farms are the back bone of European agriculture does it honestly believe that or is it just lip service? The already fragile rights of peasants regarding seeds, land and markets risks of being obliterated by these mega-corporations and our Food Sovereignty abducted. The Commission should say no to these mergers!

Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe said: “Europe’s food and farming system is broken and if giant firms, like Monsanto and Bayer, are allowed to merge they will have an even tighter toxic grip on our food. The mergers are a marriage made in hell and should be blocked by regulators. We need to build a fairer and greener food system out of corporate control.”

Arnd Spahn from the European trade unions of agricultural workers EFFAT said:  “Workers, as well as the environment and all society, are victims of the use of pesticides. We are fighting for health and safety on work places and we need partners for our ideas. Today the producers of pesticides are big, but after such a merger they will be too big for anybody to bring them on a path to worker and environmental protection. How shall we stop Glyphosate if we have such strong opponents?”

Isabelle Brachet of CONCORD Europe said: “Ending hunger implies addressing power imbalances in our food systems. A small number of multinational corporations dominate internationally traded food systems and get most of the knowledge, benefits and access to decision makers. Corporate power in our food must be restrained – not further extended by mega-mergers. The main investors in agriculture in developing countries are farmers themselves and it is they who must be at the centre of agriculture development policies.”[3]

The organisations have called on the European Commission to reject the mergers, prevent the damage caused by these corporations, and urgently take steps to support just and sustainable food systems less dependent on agri-business.

[1] See the letter.

EU Must Draw a Line Under GMOs as Superweeds, Herbicide Use Soar



Brussels — On the eve of a key meeting of EU Member State representatives, Food & Water Europe today called on EU Member States to reject the application to authorise imports of a new so-called “stacked” GM maize. Citing its new report, Superweeds: How Biotech Crops Bolster the Pesticide Industry, the organisation says it is time to admit that the GM technology cannot deliver on its promises and instead has caused escalating problems the EU can no longer ignore.

“For nearly 20 years, herbicide-tolerant GM crops have been marketed as a way to improve yields, lower costs for farmers and reduce agriculture’s environmental impact. Not only have these claims not held up, they’ve backfired,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Europe. “The chemical arms race that industrial agriculture is waging against weeds in the U.S. is not working and is doing incalculable harm to our environment and human health.”

SmartStax maize, a joint Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences product, is an attempt by industry to address the rapid spread of glyphosate-resistant superweeds and insects as a result of existing GM cultivation – genetically modified to produce six internal insecticides and tolerant to both glyphosate and glufosinate. By combining multiple resistance genes into the crop the companies behind it hope it will slow the spread of superweeds, but Food & Water Europe points out that it is precisely these combinations that are the problem. The safety of the GM genes has been assessed individually, but the effects on people, livestock and the environment are unknown. They are also likely to make on-farm problems worse, not better, including leading to the use of far more dangerous chemicals like 2-4,D when new resistance inevitably emerges.

Despite being genetically modified with the sole purpose of helping farmers fight weeds, glyphosate-tolerant GM crops, primarily Monsanto’s Roundup Ready maize, have spurred a crisis of weed management for farmers. The Food & Water Europe report released today analyses U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency data to show the connection between the rapid proliferation of GM crops and affiliated pesticides in the United States and the rise of herbicide-resistant “superweeds” that have led to the steadily increasing use of more dangerous herbicides. The widely-used glyphosate herbicides have become ineffective as the weeds develop stronger resistance due to continuous over-exposure to the chemical. As glyphosate proves to be increasingly ineffective, more farmers are turning to more dangerous herbicides, and the biotech industry is keen to provide new products it claims will help ease the crisis.

Food & Water Europe EU Food Policy Advisor Eve Mitchell said, “European politicians and regulators need to heed the warning that GM crops are an escalation of weed management problems, not a solution, and to reject all applications for Roundup Ready or other herbicide tolerant GM crops for import or cultivation, starting with SmartStax maize. We should not grow them in the EU because they cause harm and set back sustainable farming. We should not import them because these problems are now sufficiently serious that is it no longer acceptable to turn a blind eye by encouraging this GM production elsewhere. Europe cannot claim to foster sustainable farming or sustainable development if it is exporting the damage caused by its choices to other countries and expecting those communities to pay the price.

“Rather than extending GM use, which we know consumers reject, we want clear labels on food products showing where GM is and isn’t used as ingredients or feed. Continuing to sell meat and eggs using hidden GM feed while adding more dangerous, untested combinations to the chain is simply unacceptable. The market can’t function properly if shoppers don’t know what they are buying.”

The report also examines the costs associated with GM crops and herbicide-resistant weeds, including reduced yields, increased effort to combat weed infestations and resulting increase in pesticide exposure and chemical residues that harm public health, the environment, wildlife and water quality.

The “Superweeds” Report is available here:

And an accompanying video based on the report can be found here:

Contact: Eve Mitchell, +44 (0)1381 610 740 or [email protected]

EU Version – Superweeds: How Biotech Crops Bolster the Pesticide Industry



Genetically engineered (GE) crops — usually called “genetically modified” (GM) outside the U.S. — were first approved in the United States in the 1990s, and since then the United States has been the biggest global adopter of this technology. GE crops were supposed to improve yields, lower costs for farmers and reduce agriculture’s environmental impact. Yet nearly 20 years after their introduction, genetically engineered crops have not provided the benefits promised by the companies.



Food & Water Watch examined U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data to document the increased use of herbicides that has accompanied the adoption of herbicide-tolerant GE crops. Our analysis looks at the rapid proliferation of GE crops and affiliated pesticides in the United States and points out the interdependent relationship between these two industries that also fuels the crisis of weed resistance. Food & Water Watch evaluated data from the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds that reveal burgeoning herbicide- resistant weeds caused by the over-reliance on glyphosate for broad control of weeds. These data make it clear that the problem of herbicide-resistant weeds will not be solved with the intensified use of older, more toxic herbicides like 2,4-D and dicamba.

Learn more about superweeds in our new video:

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EU Version – Biotech Ambassadors: How the U.S. State Department Promotes the Seed Industry’s Global Agenda



Agricultural development is essential for the developing world to foster sustainable economies, enhance food security to combat global hunger and increase resiliency to climate change. Addressing these challenges will require diverse strategies that emphasize sustainable, productive approaches that are directed by countries in the developing world.


But in the past decade, the United States has aggressively pursued foreign policies in food and agriculture that benefit the largest seed companies. The U.S. State Department has launched a concerted strategy to promote agricultural biotechnology, often over the opposition of the public and governments, to the near exclusion of other more sustainable, more appropriate agricultural policy alternatives.

The U.S. State Department has also lobbied foreign governments to adopt pro-agricultural biotechnology policies and laws, operated a rigorous public relations campaign to improve the image of biotechnology and challenged commonsense biotechnology safeguards and rules — even including opposing laws requiring the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods.

Food & Water Watch closely examined five years of State Department diplomatic cables from 2005 to 2009 to provide the first comprehensive analysis of the strategy, tactics and U.S. foreign policy objectives to foist pro-agricultural biotechnology policies worldwide. Read the full report to learn more.

Over 25,000 People Tell Ahold: Stop Misleading Consumers, Genetically Modified Toxic Soy is Not Responsible!



Photo opportunity: Public demonstration and petition handover

When: Thursday 9 Feb 2012, 12.30-13.30

Where: Amsterdam, Ahold CSR office, Piet Heinkade 167-173

On Thursday, 9 February multinational food retailer Ahold will receive the signatures of 26.000 people across Europe demanding an end to greenwash projects like the Round Table for Responsible Soy (RTRS). Hugo Byrnes, director of product integrity at Ahold and the company’s representative in the soy roundtable, is invited to accept the signatures at 13.00 in front of his office.

The petition was kicked off in six countries in 2011 and targeted supermarket chains and food companies around Europe like Ahold, Aldi, Arla, Carrefour, Colruyt, Coop, Delhaize, Marks & Spencer and Unilever. International environmental groups including Friends of the Earth International, Action Aid, Global Forest Coalition and Food & Water Europe supported the action.[1]

Tjerk Dalhuisen of campaign group says: “Europe imports 34 million tons of genetically modified (GM) soy every year, mainly to feed factory farmed animals. This system can never be called responsible and does not deserve a green label.”

“The criteria proposed by the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) do not guarantee any level of ‘responsibility’. Soy plantations can still expand at the expense of forests and small farms; large scale pesticide spraying on soy farms will continue to poison people and the environment.”[2]

Eve Mitchell of Food & Water Europe added, “Food & Water Europe is concerned that the EU continues to rely far too heavily on imported soya from highly GM damaging monocultures, including to fuel factory farming. We cannot continue to export our environmental and social damage in this way, and consumers have a right to see on food labels where this imported GM soya is being used as animal feed.”

The RTRS is an initiative of the World Wildlife Fund and the soy industry and companies with a vested interest in soy expansion such as the agribusiness and oil giants Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, BP and Shell. The Dutch food and animal feed industry are actively supporting the RTRS, and the Dutch government is providing financial support to the scheme in particular via the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH).

The soy roundtable has faced strong opposition from civil society for years. Hundreds of organisations from Europe and South America have signed declarations against the RTRS.[3] WWF and the Dutch NGOs involved in the RTRS have been criticised by nine Belgian NGOs.[4] In April 2011 the German platform of environmental organisations DNR (Deutsche Naturschutzring) sent a letter to WWF and asked them to withdraw from the RTRS stating, “DNR cannot accept that WWF protects a failed system of agriculture and secures the profits of companies like Monsanto and BP.”[5] 

The soy that is being certified by the RTRS is mostly Monsanto’s RoundupReady GM soy, made resistant to Monsanto’s own herbicide Roundup based on glyphosate, which has been increasingly linked to serious health impacts on humans and wildlife.[6] Mixtures of pesticides are sprayed over large surfaces by airplane or large machines, causing severe health problems for the local population, pollution of water and damage to crops.

Hugo Byrnes on behalf of Ahold wrote in response to the petition that there are at present too few alternatives to soy imports. However, retailers like Ahold drive the use of soy by promoting cheap meat products. Instead, soy animal feed should be replaced by locally grown animal feed, and factory farming should be banned.

He also claimed that Ahold “does not intend to communicate the use of certified soy to consumers via packaging”, which shows once more that certified “responsible” soy has already failed as a brand.

Meike Vierstra (ASEED Europe) says: “Supermarkets that participate in this greenwash are making a big mistake. Consumers will understand that this label is misleading. We say to these companies: Don’t sell the lie.” 

For more information:

Eve Mitchell, Food & Water Europe

Phone: +44 (0)1381 610 740 email: [email protected]

Tjerk Dalhuisen,,

Mobile: +31 6 14699126, email: [email protected]

Nina Holland, Corporate Europe Observatory

Mobile: +31-6 30285042, email: [email protected]

Meike Vierstra, ASEED Europe, Mobile: +31-6-5248 1471, e-mail: [email protected]

Notes to the editor:

[1] Petition text:
Support letter:

[2]More critical analysis on the RTRS criteria: Certified Responsible? GM Watch, CEO and Friends of the Earth, March 2011.

[3] Open Letter: Growing Opposition to Round Table on Responsible Soy. June 2010.

[4] Letter from Belgian NGOs: 

[5] Letter Deutsche Naturschutzring to WWF:

[6] Antoniou, M., Brack, P., Carrasco, A., Fagan, J., Habib, M., Kageyama, P., Leifert, C., Nodari, R., Pengue, W. 2010. GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible?

Food & Water Europe is a program of Food & Water Watch, Inc., a non-profit consumer NGO based in Washington, D.C., working to ensure clean water and safe food in Europe and around the world. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.