After selling off enough assets to win anti-trust approval, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has approved a mega-merger between Monsanto and Bayer, two of the world’s leading chemical/biotech companies.
Not only will this merger result in less competition and reduced leverage for farmers, but it also paves the way for a de-facto corporate takeover of the emerging cannabis industry through patent-pending genetically modified seeds.
“The Justice Department’s rubber stamping of these three seed mega-mergers transforms the already concentrated agrichemical and seed market, effectively reducing the number of competitors from six to three.” ~ Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch
Several companies which produce lighting and hydroponics for indoor cannabis growing have reported attempted buy-outs by Hawthorne, a front company for Monsanto, and Scotts CEO Jim Hagedorn has stated his interest in investing “half a billion in the pot business.”
If the newly merged Bayer/Monsanto corporation gets a patent on the cannabis plant, it could wreak havoc on an otherwise growing industry which is rapidly expanding the economies of states where it has been legalized, creating numerous new jobs in a highly desired field.
This $62.5 billion-dollar merger has unsurprisingly resulted in a 4.7% jump in the stock market for Bayer and a 6.2% jump for Monsanto, as large corporate mergers usually indicate growth.
However, news of this merger and the interest that the company has in cannabis has caused a considerable public upset and criticism by non-profits and environmental interest groups.
“The Department of Justice has decided that corporate profits matter more than the interests [of] consumers and farmers. This decision will massively increase the power of major agrichemical companies that already have a stranglehold on our food system.” ~Jason Davidson, food and technology campaign associate with Friends of the Earth
As Bayer and Monsanto move closer to becoming one, the likelihood of genetically engineered cannabis is rapidly increasing. Some of the most common and widely-debunked selling points of GMO crops are increased yields, greater nutritional value, and easier maintenance.
Similarly, if GMO marijuana was on the table they could tout some of the same points, only slightly changed to indicate increased potency and denser buds.
However, the onset of GMO’s has also aided in a lessening of genetic diversity for crops, which could spread to cannabis as well.
“There used to be hundreds of commercial varieties of apples. Today there are less than two dozen. The United Nations warns that the diversity of cultivated crops declined by 75% during the 20th Century and a third of today’s crop diversity could disappear by 2050. The global plant breeding market is dominated by multinationals like Monsanto. They’re stealing Nature from us.” – Michael Straumietis, founder and owner of hydroponics nutrients company Advanced Nutrients
Instead of creating more diversity and cheaper cannabis, this new megacompany could effectively use the power to force growers into lessening their output and growing only the strains which Monsanto/ Bayer wants to produce, regardless of any negative side effects.
Ultimately, this is far too much power to grant to one multinational corporation.
The cannabis industry should continue to expand and contribute to the growing economy, and not come under the heels of large corporations who seek to dominate yet another large and important industry.