by Chuck Benbrook – The Des Moines Register, 11 December 2015


(Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP file photo)


First Monsanto tried to buy Syngenta, only to be turned down. Then news circulated that the agricultural pesticide and seed divisions of Dow and DuPont were either for sale or in search of a new partner. The other two big seed-biotech-pesticide industry players — BASF and Bayer — also were actively exploring merger and/or acquisition opportunities.

The ag-business news reported frequently that “everybody is talking to everybody” in search of strong new partners, once the music stops.

Seasoned observers predicted that once one deal within the seed-pesticide industry happened, a series would follow in short order, and that sooner rather than later, there would be three or four global companies controlling most of the worldwide seed and pesticide industry.

And now it has begun. The just-announced “merger of equals” between Dow and DuPont is stunning news on many levels, but one should be of special interest to Iowa farmers and citizens.

While details are vague, the merged company will be broken into three parts: chemicals, agriculture (seeds and pesticides), and everything else (plastics, fabrics, polymers, etc).

The agricultural company that emerges will include the Dow AgroSciences pesticide product line (mostly herbicides and insecticides,) and their seed and biotech assets. DuPont’s contribution will include the Iowa-bred and based seed company Pioneer, as well as DuPont’s portfolio of pesticides (important fungicides, several herbicides, and a handful of insecticides).

If this deal unfolds as planned, Iowa farmers can look forward to even less choice when it comes time to order corn and soybean seed, higher seed prices, and a doubling-down on GMO technology that is working less and less well.