'Merger From Hell' Reportedly Approved by DOJ, Pushing Agrichemical Chokehold on Food System
By Andrea Germanos
The reported approval from the Justice Department came "after the companies pledged to sell off additional assets," the Journal reported, and despite concerns raised by hundreds of food and farm groups. It also comes weeks after the European Commission gave its thumbs up.
"The approval of the third supersized seed merger, after ChemChina-Syngenta and Dow-DuPont," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, "leaves farmers vulnerable to price gouging for seeds and other supplies and strengthens the hold a few dominant corporations have over the entire food system."
"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," she added.
Because it will make it harder for farmers to acquire non-genetically modified seeds to plant, it "makes it harder for agriculture to get off the GMO-chemical treadmill that just keeps increasing in speed," she said.
With its reported stamp of approval, the pending merger shows that "the federal government is not taking the impact of corporate control of our food supply seriously. It's time for Congress to establish a moratorium on mega-mergers in the food system," Hauter argued.
Jason Davidson, food and technology campaign associate with Friends of the Earth, was equally critical in his reaction to the development.
"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," he declared in a statement.
He went on to lament that "American farmers will see increased seed prices, fewer options, and decreased bargaining power." Echoing Hauter's warning, he argued. "This merger from hell will further entrench the failing model of toxic, chemical intensive agriculture, which is poisoning people and the planet."
A recent poll found that nearly 94 percent of farmers expressed concern that a Bayer-Monsanto merger would have a negative impact on independent farmers and their communities. It also found that 89 percent of farmers said they believe the merger would lead to increased pressure for chemically-dependent farming.
Shares of Monsanto, meanwhile, jumped 6.6 percent following the Journal's reporting on the $66 billion takeover by Bayer.
EU Approves Controversial Bayer-Monsanto Merger https://t.co/uncjPdAHo9 @GMWatch @OrganicConsumer @regeneration_in… https://t.co/wckl8EsUDv— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1521646920.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
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