U.S. seed group urges caution over industry mergers
In the wake of a series of completed and potential merges of major seed companies around the world, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) has urged authorities to ensure industry competition is not stifled.
Last week, U.S.-based Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON) accepted a US$66 billion takeover offer by German multinational Bayer, and late last year DuPont (NYSE:DD) and The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW) agreed to a merger.
Meanwhile, ChemChina is on track to takeover Swiss agribusiness group Syngenta for US$43 billion after the deal was given the go-ahead by a U.S. regulator.
"Because of the seed industry’s past, present and future research and development investments, America’s farmers have access to a better quality and larger variety of seed products than ever before," ASTA president and CEO Andrew W. LaVigne said.
"Plant breeders and companies have strived to continually improve the quality and performance of their products for America's farmers, gardeners and consumers.
"In bringing those new varieties to the market, seed companies spend significant resources to research, develop, and commercialize varieties at a significant cost and investment. This is a commitment that will continue into the future."
LaVigne added it was the responsibility of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to 'fully review' the proposed deals in the industry and to 'ensure there will be choice and improved varieties in the future'.
He added seed companies were responsible for bringing improved varieties to growers every year, and they would continue to fulfill that responsibility.
"The U.S. seed industry is extremely diverse, both in terms of size and crops covered, with hundreds of regional and independent seed companies doing business across the country, producing seed for all sectors of the industry, including row crops, flowers, vegetables, grasses, forages and turf," he said.
"They strive to provide variety choice and performance for America's growers, gardeners and landscape managers to ensure the best seed is available for the market.
"Seed is the foundation of life, and we anticipate seeing continued strong competition in the marketplace, and the development of new and improved varieties in the future that will benefit virtually every aspect of society."
ASTA represents over 700 companies involved in seed production, plant breeding and related industries in North America.