AGs unite against proposed merger

John O'Brien Aug. 27, 2007, 3:24pm


WASHINGTON, D.C. - On the day U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned, the Department of Justice received a little criticism from 12 state attorneys general in one of his old cases.

The group filed comments Monday in the DOJ's case against Monsanto Company's acquisition of Delta & Pine Land Co., alleging completion of the merger approved by the DOJ will allow Monsanto to control the prices of the three largest cash crops in the country.

Monsanto is buying Delta & Pine for more than $1 billion. The DOJ agreed to let it happen in May.

"This merger is not good for Kentucky farmers," Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo said. "It allows Monsanto to increase its monopoly in agriculture biotechnology and threatens to increase food costs both for farmers and consumers."

Stumbo even claimed a consent decree proposed by the DOJ "does not do enough to protect healthy competition." Joining Stumbo were the attorneys general of Arkansas, Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.

Monsanto already has market shares ranging from 80-98 percent, Stumbo said, for biotechnology in corn, soybeans and cotton.

Under the Tunney Act, a federal court must approve all civil antitrust consent decrees involving the DOJ. Stumbo says other organizations are opposed to the Monsanto merger, like E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., the American Antitrust Institute, the Organization for Competitive Markets and the Center for Food Safety.

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