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By Dr. Jim Mercola
Monsanto recently made a bid to take over European agrichemical giant Syngenta, the world’s largest pesticide producer. The $45 billion bid was rejected, but there’s still a chance for a merger between these two chemical technology giants.
Monsanto is reportedly considering raising the offer, and as noted by Mother Jones,1 “combined, the two companies would form a singular agribusiness behemoth, a company that controls a third of both the globe’s seed and pesticides markets.”
As reported by Bloomberg,2 the possibility of Monsanto taking over Syngenta raises a number of concerns; a top one being loss of crop diversity.
“…[A] larger company would eventually mean fewer varieties of seeds available to farmers, say opponents such as [science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, Bill] Freese.
Another is that the combined company could spur increased use of herbicides by combining Syngenta’s stable of weed killers with Monsanto’s marketing heft and crop development expertise.
‘Two really big seed companies becoming one big seed company means even less choice for farmers,’ said Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch, a policy group in Washington.
‘From a public health and environmental perspective this is a complete disaster,’ said Bill Freese… ‘The more I look at this, the more it worries me and the more it needs to be opposed.’”
What’s in a Name?
According to one analyst, the takeover might boost Monsanto’s reputation, as Syngenta has been “less publicly enthusiastic” about genetically engineered (GE) crops.
Personally, I don’t foresee Monsanto ever being able to shed its toxic reputation, no matter how it tries to rebrand itself. It recently tried to do just that by declaring itself "sustainable agriculture company.”
But actions speak louder than mere words, and there’s nothing sustainable about Monsanto’s business. Taking on the Syngenta name would do nothing to change the obnoxious dichotomy between Monsanto’s words and deeds.
In fact, Mother Jones astutely notes that by trying to acquire Syngenta, Monsanto contradicts “years of rhetoric about how its ultimate goal with biotech is to wean farmers off agrichemicals.”
It’s quite clear Monsanto has no desire or plans to help farmers reduce the use of crop chemicals. On the contrary, it has and continues to push for the increased use of its flagship product, Roundup.
Roundup Also Being Used to Harvest Non-GMO Crops
Not only has Monsanto created a line of GE Roundup-ready seeds, it also promotes the use of Roundup on conventional crops, pre-harvest, as described in its Pre-Harvest Staging Guide.3
Applying herbicide directly before harvesting helps dry the crop, boosts the release of seed, and is said to promote long-term control of certain weeds.
The practice is known as desiccation, and according to researchers Samsel and Seneff,4 the desiccation of conventionally grown wheat appears to be linked to the rapid and concurrent rise in celiac disease.
Applying glyphosate, which was recently classified as a Class 2A probable human carcinogen, on crops directly before harvest is one of the dumbest things we could do to our foods, yet Monsanto wholeheartedly supports and promotes it.
Speaking of reputation, Syngenta is hardly a poster child for sustainability and right action either. Not only is it the main supplier of the “gender-bending” herbicide atrazine in the US, it also makes neonicotinoids—a class of insecticide linked to the mass die-offs of bees and other pollinators
Both of these chemicals have come under increasing scrutiny as researchers have learned more about their environmental and human health impacts, and both are banned in Europe while still widely in use in the US.