Last week, the world learned that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had formally signed off on the proposed acquisition of U.S. crop protection/seed giant Monsanto by German-based Bayer. With Bayer promising to divest additional assets (namely, parts of its digital agriculture business), the U.S. has been added to list of countries around the globe, including members of the European Union, that have given the deal their blessing. Although Canada and Mexico have yet to weigh in, most market watchers believe the long-proposed Bayer-Monsanto deal will now become a reality, likely by the midpoint of 2018.
And this likely means that the name “Monsanto” will begin disappearing from the agricultural landscape. Indeed, when the deal was first proposed back in 2016, Bayer representatives hinted that they might not retain the Monsanto name ultimately.
Of course, the folks that might miss Monsanto’s name the most are the least likely – anti-agriculture activists. For years now, whenever these groups have taken to the streets to protect against “Big Ag,” signs sporting the Monsanto name with an “X” over it were a common sight. Which company will become the “face of Big Ag” now?
I remember posing this question a few years ago when the Bayer-Monsanto merger was first being discussed. Some readers at that time believed that a least a little hatred would be directed towards Monsanto’s buyer, Bayer, when the deal was finally complete. Of course, other people pointed out that Bayer as a company makes lots of consumer-friendly products such as aspirin, so this “negative image try” wouldn’t stick. Instead, the majority (over half) believed that all agricultural companies would now become the new “targets of disdain.”
Only time will tell how this ultimately plays out. But for now, take a moment to remember the Monsanto name and all the good (and bad) it has stood for since 1901.