Rural women

Biowatch welcomes decision to refuse seed company merger between Pioneer and Pannar

15 October 2011

Biowatch South Africa welcomes yesterday`s decision by the Competition Tribunal to refuse the merger between USA headed multinational Pioneer Hi-Bred Inc. and South Africa`s largest seed company, Pannar (Pty) Ltd. Director Rose Williams says, "we are extremely pleased that the Competition Tribunal has upheld the decision of the Competition Commission to not allow the merger. We believe that foreign control of our national seed industry runs counter to the broader national interests of food security and the conservation of crop diversity".

Biowatch made oral and written submissions against the proposed merger in November 2010 at the Competition Commission. The merger was refused by the Competition Commission in December 2010, but this was appealed by the parties to the proposed merger. The matter was heard over three weeks in September of 2011 at the Competition Tribunal. Biowatch was admitted to intervene at the Tribunal hearing but withdrew after the terms of its participation were significantly narrowed down.

This merger could have placed effective control of South Africa`s seed industry into the hands of two US based multinational corporations, Pioneer Hi-Bred and Monsanto. This represents a threat to our national food security, especially amongst smallholder farmers.

While the decision of the Competition Tribunal goes some way towards allaying Biowatch`s concerns, the dominance of Monsanto remains a concern. "This needs further investigation by the competition authorities" Williams said.

Biowatch believes that blocking the merger is the best option given the concentration of control in the seed sector. It is critical to maintain an independent crop seed industry, which is at the apex of the food production chain, in order to preserve national food security and sovereignty.

Our position is that to meet South Africa`s needs, food production must be diversified and placed firmly in the control of community based farmers, not in corporate hands.

For further information please contact:

Rose Williams 082 43 55 812; email rose@biowatch.org.za

Biowatch SA office 031-206 2954