CATCH THE BUZZ – Key U.S. Panel Sees No National Security Barriers to Bayer Takeover of Monsanto.

Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming

A special review panel of U.S. officials “has concluded there are no unresolved national security concerns” in the proposed purchase by German chemical giant Bayer of St. Louis-based Monsanto for $66 billion. “Bayer and Monsanto will continue to cooperate with the authorities in order to complete the transaction in early 2018,” said a terse joint statement by the companies.

The merger would result in the world’s largest seed and ag chemical company, and would complete a wave of consolidation that is turning the big six into a big three in the sector. In the other combinations, Dow and DuPont merged and state-owned ChemChina purchased Swiss-based Syngenta. Bayer and Monsanto reached agreement on their combination in September 2016, saying it would combine Monsanto’s strengths in seeds and digital agriculture with Bayer’s crop-protection portfolio.

“The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approvals,” said the Bayer-Monsanto statement. It said the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., chaired by the Treasury Department, “has completed its review of the proposed merger and has concluded there are no unresolved national security concerns with respect to the transaction.”

In October, Bayer said it would sell some of its crop-science operations to BASF to remove antitrust concerns. In an essay in The Hill newspaper, James Miller, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission during the Reagan era, said the Bayer-Monsanto deal should not be allowed without major changes. Monsanto has a massive lead in digital farming, and the “Baysanto” colossus would have the market dominance “to require farmers to plant only its seeds designed to use its plant protection.”