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Why humans, and Big Macs, depend on bees

In a move that has been anticipated for months, agribusiness corporation Monsanto has taken another step towards finalizing a $66 billion merger with Bayer AG, the Germany-based pharma and chemical firm. On Tuesday (December 13) Monsanto’s shareholders overwhelmingly approved the $128 per share price paid by Bayer for the acquisition. The new entity will represent the world’s largest agriculture and chemical company.

“This is a really significant milestone,” Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “When you get 99 percent affirmation, that’s very encouraging.”

But outside of the 99 percent of Monsanto shareholders who approved the deal, one individual filed a lawsuit to stop it, alleging that the shares were worth more than $128 a piece. That suit was thrown out by a St. Louis County judge.

The National Farmers Union has also spoken out against the deal. “Consolidation of this magnitude cannot be the standard for agriculture, nor should we allow it to determine the landscape for our future,” the organization said in a statement posted in September, when the merger was first announced. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sent a letter on December 12 to the Department of Justice, also opposing the merger. “While, standing alone, a proposal for the takeover of the world’s largest producer of genetically modified seeds by the world’s second largest producer of pesticides is problematic, it is also part of a troubling trend of consolidation in the agricultural sector,” the letter read. Rebecca Riley, senior attorney in the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Land & Wildlife program, also railed against the merger. “If you are a farmer, consumer, or any of the pollinators critical to our nation’s food supply—such as the bees and monarch butterflies facing massive new threats from pesticides in recent years—this big business merger could be very bad news,” she wrote in a blog post on the NRDC’s website.

The deal is expected to close at the end of 2017, after anti-trust regulators in the U.S. Europe, Brazil, India, and China review and OK it.

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