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March Against Monsanto 2017

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Report: Trump Appears Ready to Bless Monsanto-Bayer Merger Based On “The Flimsiest Jobs Pledge Ever”

By On January 19, 2017

President Elect Donald Trump was able to win the position in large part because of support from the Midwest and other similar blue collar areas. With promises of securing more jobs in manufacturing and other traditional sectors, Trump outdueled Hillary Clinton and brought home the nomination.

Many of these areas are also rich in farming communities and agricultural jobs, with one major caveat industrial agriculture is still king, and the transition to more sustainable and organic-based systems is a ways off to say the least.

While some Trump supporters have held out hope that his administration would be more pro-organic than Clinton or other competititors, his early appointments have not exactly inspired hope. And now, Trump appears ready to take it to the next level, with concerns persisting that he will prioritize surface-level job creation and supposed innovation over sustainability and health.

Report: Trump Ready to Bless Monsanto-Bayer Merger

According to a new report from CNN Money, a meeting with Bayer and Monsanto’s CEOs produced a pledge from the companies that they will increase research and development spending in the United States. The news suggest that the merger between the two, valued at a whopping $66 billion, will likely be allowed (despite major anti-trust concerns).

Bayer CEO Warner Baumann and Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant met with Trump last week, and reportedly are planning to spend about $16 million between the two companies, with at least half of it coming in the United States.

More than 3,000 “high tech” jobs will reportedly be produced, and it is expected that all of Monsanto’s nearly 10,000 person U.S. workforce will remain (some administrative jobs within the two companies could possibly be cut, however).

For Monsanto and Bayer workers, the report comes as good news.

But for activists working tirelessly to promote a more sustainable brand of farming (see the New York Times report ‘Broke Promises of Genetically Modified Crops’ for more on their concerns), the news has come as a bit of a surprise, and a major letdown.

It also brings up even more complicated concerns from a business standpoint.

Tom Philpott of Mother Jones (a publication that has been seen as both pro and anti-Big Ag and Monsanto over the years) had the following to say in an editorial titled ‘Trump Is Ready to Bless Monsanto and Bayer’s Massive Merger (which added that it is based on the “flimsiest jobs pledge ever).’”

He believes that the government is not doing enough to address concerns over the mega-merger and its impact on farmers:

As I recently explained, such market power wielded by a single agribusiness company threatens to harm farmers and ultimately consumers,” he said. “The executive branch is required to vet massive combinations based on such concerns under the Sherman Act. But Trump’s talks with the CEOs of Monsanto and Bayer apparently had nothing to do with the deal’s impact on competition.”

He continues:

If Trump really does bless the merger based on a jobs pledge, dismissing antitrust concerns, it would ‘signal a fundamental disregard for the law and for due process,’ Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute, told me. ‘Antitrust enforcers play the important role of referee in protecting competition and our market system,’ she added. ‘If Trump lets this deal through without any review, it would be unusual and would raise significant concerns.’”

While 3,000 new jobs are certainly are plus when taken at face value, many, including Philpott, wonder if it’s ultimately worth it. A press release from the companies was vague as to the number of jobs that will be created, until White House Press Secretary Sean Spencer confirmed the actual number.

And according to Philpott, pledges of “additional synergies” in future years could ultimately amount to cost-cutting measures. He also worries about consumers, and farmers, getting the short end of the stick from the two chemical giants.

So, are “creating jobs” and helping farmers really the focus of the merger, or is this merely yet another corporate power grab where everyone ends up losing out (in more ways than one considering the disastrous health and environmental effects of GMOs and agrochemicals)?

Time will tell. For now it appears as though a merger of the two chemical giants is extremely likely. For more information on the merger, check out the full article from Philpott by clicking here.

Photo of Trump via NDTV.com