Commission raises concerns over reduced competition across pesticide and seed markets

The European commission has begun investigating Bayer’s proposed buy-out of Monsanto to determine whether the deal will reduce competition across pesticide, seed, and crop trait markets.

The $66 billion (£51 billion) merger, agreed by Monsanto shareholders in December 2016, would create the world’s largest pesticides and seeds company. The commission is concerned that decreased competition in these areas could result in higher prices, less choice, and lower quality products. In particular, the commission noted that Monsanto’s glyphosate product is Europe’s biggest selling non-selective herbicide, while Bayer’s glufosinate is one of very few alternatives. It also observed that Monsanto is the leading producer of oilseed rape seeds in Europe, while Bayer has the highest market share globally.

‘We need to ensure effective competition so that farmers can have access to innovative products, better quality and also purchase products at competitive prices,’ said Margrethe Vestager, the competition commissioner. ‘And at the same time maintain an environment where companies can innovate and invest in improved products,’ she added.

Bayer said that it ‘believes that the proposed combination will be highly beneficial for farmers and consumers, and will continue to work closely and constructively with the European commission in its investigation.’

The commission has until 8 January 2018 to complete the investigation.