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Bayer completes $63-billion Monsanto takeover

AFP|Updated: Jun 07, 2018, 06.58 PM IST

FRANKFURT AM MAIN: German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant BayerNSE 0.00 % said Thursday its two-year pursuit of US-based MonsantoNSE 1.01 % was over, as the two firms signed off a $63-billion merger deal.
“Shares in the US company will no longer be traded on the New York Stock Exchange, with Bayer now the sole owner of Monsanto Company,” the German firm said in a statement.

Here’s what you need to know about the $63-billion megadeal:

– Heroin and Agent Orange –
Founded in Germany in 1863, Bayer is still best known for making aspirin. More infamously, it briefly sold heroin in the early 20th century, marketed as cough cure and morphine substitute.
During World War II, Bayer was part of a consortium called IG Farben that made the Zyklon B pesticide used in Adolf Hitler’s gas chambers.
Through a series of acquisitions over the years, Bayer has grown into a drug and chemicals behemoth.

It reported revenues of 35 billion euros ($41 billion) last year and employs nearly 100,000 people worldwide.
Monsanto meanwhile was established in St. Louis, Missouri in 1901, setting out to make saccharine.
By the 1940s, it was producing farm-oriented chemicals, including herbicide 2,4-D which, combined with another dangerous chemical, was used to make the notorious Vietnam War-era defoliant Agent Orange.
In 1976, the company launched probably its best-known product, ..the weed killer Roundup.
In the 1980s, its scientists were the first to genetically modify a plant cell. Monsanto then started buying other seed companies and began field trials of GM seeds.
It eventually developed soybean, corn, cotton and other crops engineered to be tolerant of Roundup.
Today, Monsanto boasts annual sales of some $15 billion and over 20,000 employees.

A keen suitor –
In an industry preparing for a global population surge with billions more mouths to feed, Bayer was keen to get its hands on Monsanto’s market-leading line in GM crop seeds designed to resist strong pesticides.
It was also lured by Monsanto’s data analytics business Climate Corp, believing farmers will in future rely on digital monitoring of their crops.
The tie-up comes amid a wave of consolidation in the agrochemicals industry, spurring Bayer to become a bigger player if it did not want to get left behind.
But Monsanto wasn’t easily wooed, and Bayer had to increase its offer three times before the US rival finally agreed to a deal at $128 per share in 2016.

High price to pay –
The takeover, the largest-ever by a German firm, comes at a high cost to Bayer.
As well as the eye-watering price tag, Bayer must give up much of its seeds and agrichemical business to satisfy the competition concerns of global regulators.
Those divestitures have gone to none other than Bayer’s homegrown rival BASF, making it the unexpected beneficiary of the mega-deal.
Bayer’s sacrifices mean the takeover will be less lucrative than expected, with annual savings now forecast to amount to $1.2 billion from 2022 onwards — some 300 million less than initially thought.

– Goodbye ‘Monsatan’ –
Hoping to ditch Monsanto’s toxic reputation, Bayer will drop the company’s name from its products after the takeover.
Dubbed “Monsatan” and “Mutanto”, the US firm has for decades been targeted by environmental groups, especially in Europe, who believe that GM food could be unsafe to eat.
Campaigners also abhor Monsanto’s production of glyphosate-based Roundup, which some scientists have linked to cancer.

Friends of the Earth, which has labelled the Bayer-Monsanto merger a “marriage made in hell”, said their protests will now be turned on Bayer so long as it keeps up Monsanto’s practices.

– What does this mean for farmers and consumers? –
The Bayer-Monsanto union follows last year’s merger of US companies Dow and DuPont and the tie-up between Swiss-based SyngentaNSE 0.00 % and ChemChina.
These three giant corporations now control more than two thirds of the global market for seeds and pesticides — although Bayer’s sell-offs have allowed BASF to become a sizeable fourth competitor.

While Bayer has been able to ease regulators’ worries, critics say too much power is now in the hands of just a few players, potentially pushing up prices for farmers and limiting choices.
Bayer has vowed to continue developing some of Monsanto’s most controversial activities, including the crop protection technologies it insists are needed to meet growing food demand.
It has however promised not to introduce GM crops in Europe

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A Beginner’s Guide to Hemp Oil, the Cannabis Product That’s Legal Right Now

 

 

By Hannah Sentenac Thu., May 29 2014 at 7:00 AM

With medical marijuana on everyone’s lips (in more ways than one), people are buzzing about weed, hemp, cannabis, THC, CBD, and all kinds of other related terms that you might or might not understand. It’s OK — this is confusing stuff.

Leave it to Cultist to offer a little clarity about one such topic you’re probably hearing a lot about: hemp oil. From "cannamoms" to Whole Foods salespeople, lots of folks are touting the benefits of this product. But what is it, exactly, and what does it do?

See also: How to Become a Medical Marijuana Millionaire in Ten Easy Steps

So what is this stuff?
Let’s start with what hemp oil is not. It is not marijuana. It does not get people high. Both originate from the same plant, but marijuana is cultivated for the buds (which have to be carefully raised for that specific purpose). They’re also grown differently.

The oil has only trace amounts of THC, the psychotropic component in weed. Instead, it has higher concentrations of cannabidiol, or CBD, which is the medicinal boon people are all atwitter over.

"You’ll see two kinds — hemp oil drawn from the plant and hemp oil drawn from the seeds. Ours is drawn from the mature stalks of the hemp plant," says Andrew Hard, director of public relations for HempMeds, a California company whose hemp oil products are sold all over the world. The stalk and seeds don’t fall under the definition of what the U.S. government dubs marijuana, he says; that’s why the products are legal in all 50 states.

Aw, man. So it won’t get me stoned?
Sorry, man. Let’s put it this way: The medical marijuana bill that recently passed the Florida House would allow patients with cancer and conditions that result in chronic seizures or severe muscle spasms to use marijuana pills, oils, or vapors that contain 0.8 percent THC or lower and 10 percent CBD or higher. Right now, those things are illegal.

HempMeds’ Real Scientific Hemp Oil (RSHO), as a comparison, has 15.5 to 25 percent CBD by volume but only trace amounts of THC.

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Evil Monsanto Aggressively Sues Farmers for Saving Seeds

Farmers have always saved seeds from their harvest to sow the following year. But Monsanto and other big seed companies have changed the rules of the game.

June 20, 2013 |  

The following content originally appeared on TruthOut.

There has been mixed news for the agrochemical giant Monsanto recently. On the one hand, there was the  surprise announcement on June 1 by company spokesman Brandon Mitchener: "We are no longer working on lobbying for more cultivation in Europe…  Currently we do not plan to apply for the approval of new genetically modified crops."

The embattled corporation has decided to stop tilting against the windmill of European resistance to its controversial biotech seeds. Eight EU nations have already prohibited GM (genetically modified) cultivation on their territory and banned the import of genetically modified foods from abroad.

But Monsanto’s prospects in the United States took a very different turn last month when the US Supreme Court ordered Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman to pay Monsanto over $80,000 for planting its GM soybean seeds. Bowman had purchased the seeds from a grain elevator rather than from Monsanto itself, as their corporate contract requires. The seeds had been saved from an earlier crop. 

For as long as humans have been growing food, farmers have saved seeds from their harvest to sow the following year. But Monsanto and other big seed companies have changed the rules of the game. They have successfully argued that they spend millions of dollars developing new crop varieties and that these products should be treated as proprietary inventions with full patent protection.  Just as one can’t legally reproduce a CD or DVD, farmers are now prohibited from copying the GM seeds that they purchase from companies like Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and Syngenta. 

In one sense, these corporations no longer sell seeds – they lease them, requiring farmers to renew their lease with every subsequent growing season. Monsanto itself compares its GM seeds to rental cars. When you are finished using them, rights revert to the owner of the "intellectual property" contained within the seed.

Some farmers have saved their seeds anyway (called "brown bagging"), in some cases to save money, in others because they don’t like the big companies telling them how to farm. Monsanto has responded with an all-out effort to track down the brown baggers and prosecute them as an example to others who might be tempted to violate its patent. By aggressively enforcing its "no replant policy," Monsanto has initiated a permanent low-grade war against farmers. At the time of this writing, the company had not responded to emailed questions about its seed saving policies.

"I don’t know of [another] company that chooses to sue its own customer base," Joseph Mendelson of the Center for Food Safety told Vanity Fair Magazine. " It’s a very bizarre business strategy."

Yet the strategy appears to be working. Over 90 percent of the soybeans, corn, canola and cotton grown in the United States are patented genetically modified organisms (commonly known as GMOs). The soybean variety that Bowman planted has proved popular with farmers because it has been modified to survive multiple sprayings by Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup, whose active agent is glyphosate. While Monsanto claims that GMOs increase crop yields, there is little evidence that this is the case. The chemical giant turned seed company also claims that the new technology decreases the need for agrochemicals. Yet 85 percent of all GM crops are bred to be herbicide resistant, which has meant that pesticide use is increasing as a result of the spread of GM crops. What GMOs were designed to do – and indeed accomplish – is create plants that can be grown efficiently in the chemical-intensive large scale monocultures that dominate American agriculture.

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