One of Germany’s largest companies is trying to buy Monsanto, which changes everything.
A majority of EU governments voted on Monday to extend the European license for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship product, Roundup, for another five years. One of the deciding votes was cast by the caretaker government of Germany, which came off the fence after abstaining in previous meetings.
The decision was made despite a petition signed by more than 1.3 million EU citizen-subjects calling for a European ban on the weedkiller.
The five-year extension is welcome news for Monsanto, which has found itself in the rather unusual position of being on the back foot in recent years, especially since the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) declared that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic”. The company is facing a rash of potentially costly law suits in the US from farmers, members of their families, and others who claim that Roundup is connected to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
It’s also good news for the German chemical behemoth Bayer, which is trying to acquire Monsanto for €66 billion. Bayer’s main area of expertise is developing pesticides, but if it pulls off the merger, the deal would create the world’s largest supplier of seeds and farm chemicals. And Bayer would much prefer to have its acquisition target in the best financial health possible, and that might be difficult if it were forced to withdraw or phase out its biggest selling product from one of its most lucrative markets…