Charles writes: "Selling seeds and pesticides used to be a sleepy, slow-moving business. That was, until about 20 years ago, when the chemical company Monsanto introduced genetically modified crops and started buying up seed companies."
Protesters on the streets of Montreal in May, campaigning against genetically modified organisms and Monsanto. (photo: Cristian Mijea/Demotix/Corbis)
Monstanto, The World's Largest Seed Company, Wants to Buy Syngenta, the World's Largest Pesticide Company
By Dan Charles, NPR
10 June 15
elling seeds and pesticides used to be a sleepy, slow-moving business. That was, until about 20 years ago, when the chemical company Monsanto introduced genetically modified crops and started buying up seed companies. Ever since, companies in this industry have been maneuvering like hungry fish in a pond, occasionally dining on pieces of each other, hoping to survive through size and speed.
Monsanto, now the world's biggest seed company, is attempting its biggest bite ever. It wants to acquire Syngenta, a Switzerland-based company that sells pesticides and seeds, for $45 billion. Syngenta is currently the world's biggest seller of agricultural chemicals, and it is ranked third in seed sales.
Syngenta has rejected the deal, at least for now. The European company says Monsanto is offering a "grossly inadequate" price. It is also wary of pursuing a deal that government regulators in some parts of the world might end up blocking. The company also says it worries about the "reputational risk" of combining with Monsanto — implying that Monsanto is the corporate equivalent of a high school boy who's not cool.
In fact, a dose of cultural and personal animosity does appear to stand in the way of a deal. This past week, Syngenta took the unusual step of publicly releasing two letters in which Monsanto's CEO, Hugh Grant, made his case for a merger. In the first letter, Grant had expressly asked that the offer be "kept strictly confidential."
"I've been watching this with fascination," says John Sorenson, the former president of Syngenta's global biotechnology division. Sorenson now is CEO of a startup company in Kalamazoo, Mich., called Vestaron. He says that his former employer fits the European stereotype: hierarchical in structure, deliberate in making decisions, sometimes slow-moving. Monsanto, on the other hand, is "very American — Wild West." It has been aggressive, nimble, and single-minded. As a result, it is also widely reviled.
"Can you imagine them merging?" I ask.
"No!" Sorenson says, with a laugh. "But I would not underestimate Monsanto." When Monsanto pursues something, he says, "it's relentless."
"Ultimately, it comes down to price," Sorenson says. If Monsanto offers enough money, Syngenta's shareholders will make sure the sale goes through. Sorenson says if he were forced to place a bet, he'd estimate the chance of a deal at about 60 percent.
To preserve competition in the seed industry, and make the deal more palatable to antitrust regulators, Monsanto is promising to sell off Syngenta's seed business. It is also proposing to move the combined company's headquarters to London and to adopt a new name.
Dropping the Monsanto name might not be a bad move. One attempt to measure the reputations of 100 top companies, conducted by Harris Interactive, ranked Monsanto fourth from the bottom.
© 2015 Reader Supported News
Excerpt: "The main and only source of water for thousands of Salvadorans is in peril."
Residents from a Salvadoran municipality have seen a gradual depletion and contamination of their main and only water source since multinational corporations like Coca-Cola started operations there. (photo: Creative Commons)
Coca-Cola Slowly Deprives 30,000 People of Water in El Salvador
10 June 15
The main and only source of water for thousands of Salvadorans is in peril.
esidents from a Salvadoran municipality have seen a gradual depletion and contamination of their main and only water source since multinational corporations like Coca-Cola started operations there, activists have denounced.
The municipality of Nejapa, in northern El Salvador, is home to almost 30,000 thousand people who depend on its river San Antonio to satisfy daily activities from hydration and bathing to washing clothes and cattle farming.
Residents complain that since multinational corporations Coca-Cola, Jumex and Agua Cristal have been using industrial wells to exploit and rob most of the water source, there has been a significant decrease in water supply.
“"It is regrettable that in a municipality rich in water there are still entire communities that lack this vital liquid," said Roxana Brizuela, a health advocate and Nejapa resident.
Brizuela explained that 10 years ago people enjoyed full access to water, which Nejapa natives are now unable to drink because of industrial contamination. Local residents say the water kills their animals and sickens their stomachs.
The impact of the Nejapa’s water exploitation has led many local communities to support a pending law called the Water Act that could protect this vital resource.
“This way companies wouldn’t come and take our water without anyone saying anything, because they are only interested in selling water,” affirmed Brizuela. “They don’t care about the people who really need it.”
According to Carlos Flores, from the Water Forum, right-wing politicians are opposing the law because it is not in their interest.
“That would mean that what’s happening here won’t happen again because there will be someone who thinks about the water … and will prevent things like these to happen,” he said.
© 2015 Reader Supported News
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