SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today led a coalition of states opposing Bayer AG’s $66 billion acquisition of Monsanto Company, a deal that will make Bayer the largest seed company in the world. On May 29, the U.S. Department of Justice cleared the purchase. In a comment letter sent to the U.S. Department of Justice, the coalition of states expresses urgent concern over the concentration of the seed market. They argue that any harm to competition caused by this merger will “affect every consumer’s food choices and budget.” Public comment remains open for at least 60 days before the court may enter a Final Judgment on the acquisition.
“California is the breadbasket for America and the world. After carefully studying this acquisition, I have concluded that allowing these two massive agrochemical companies to merge is not in the best interest of the American people,” said Attorney General Becerra. “With this merger, three companies will control the global food supply. This acquisition would give more and more power to fewer and fewer conglomerate businesses. It will do profound damage to family farms, workers in the agricultural sector, and American consumers. When it comes to something as essential as food, no foreign company should have monopolistic power over what Americans eat.”
Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto comes on the heels of two other massive agricultural mergers: ChemChina’s $43 billion purchase of Syngenta and Dow and DuPont’s $130 billion merger. The comment letter also conveys concerns that this merger will further inhibit innovation and, if the settlement is unsuccessful, risks creating a monopoly for certain vegetable seeds, critical crops to California. The day this acquisition was announced, Attorney General Becerra expressed his concerns and pledged a thorough review of the purchase. This comment letter is the result of that deliberation.
Attorney General Becerra has made it a priority to protect consumers and to keep California markets competitive. In March, Attorney General Becerra sued Sutter Health, the largest hospital system in Northern California, for anticompetitive practices that result in higher healthcare costs for Northern Californians. Attorney General Becerra stopped further consolidation in California’s gasoline market by preventing petroleum refiner Valero from acquiring the last independent oil distribution terminal in Northern California in 2017. And he joined a federal lawsuit to charge six generic drug makers with an illegal conspiracy to increase prices for important pharmaceuticals.
California is joined by Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Oregon in submitting this comment letter, which can be found here.