Top officials for Monsanto and Bayer are defending their proposed $66 billion merger as a deal that could help American farmers through greater investments in technology. They made the case Tuesday to skeptical senators worried the merger could hurt American farmers already struggling with lower crop prices and higher seed costs.
The combination of the American seed and weed-killer and German medicine and farm-chemical maker would create a global agricultural and chemical giant with a broad array of products.
Farm groups at the hearing testified that they're worried about the consequences of a Bayer and Monsanto combination, as well as other agricultural biotech mergers in the works. The head of the National Farmers Union said if approved, the mergers would mean three companies have more than 80 percent of U.S. corn seed sales and 70 percent of the global pesticide market.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley described the mergers as emblematic of a "consolidation wave" he's afraid "has become a tsunami." Grassley urged antitrust regulators to closely watch consolidation of the agricultural biotech industry, noting that mergers between Dow Chemical and DuPont, and Syngenta AG and the China National Chemical Corp. are already under government review.