EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 53 REGULATORY KEEPING YOU INFORMED OF LEGISLATIVE AND REGULATORY CHANGES IN EUROPE AND ABROAD — FROM LAWSUITS TO APPROVALS TO OTHER REGULATORY ISSUES AFFECTING YOUR BUSINESS. NATIONAL COMMISSION CLEARS BAYER’S ACQUISITION OF MONSANTO, SUBJECT TO CONDITIONS The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer. The merger is conditional on the divestiture of an extensive remedy package, which addresses the parties’ overlaps in seeds, pesticides and digital agriculture. “We have approved Bayer’s plans to take over Monsanto because the par- ties’ remedies, worth well over €6 billion, meet our competition concerns in full,” says Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy. “Our decision ensures that there will be effec- tive competition and innovation in seeds, pesticides and digital agriculture markets also after this merger. “In particular, we have made sure that the number of global players actively com- peting in these markets stays the same. That is important because we need com- petition to ensure farmers have a choice of different seed varieties and pesticides at affordable prices. And we need competition to push companies to innovate in digital agriculture and to continue to develop new products that meet the high regulatory standards in Europe, to the benefit of all Europeans and the environment.” The 21 March decision follows an in-depth review of Bayer’s proposed acqui- sition of Monsanto. Monsanto is the world’s largest supplier of seeds, which gener- ates most of its sales in the US and Latin America. Monsanto also sells glyphosate, which is the most used pesticide world- wide to control weeds. Bayer is the second largest supplier of pesticides worldwide, with a stronger focus in Europe. The transaction creates the largest global inte- grated seed and pesticide player. EU BRINGS THE CONSUMER INFORMATION ON GMOS IN YOUR LANGUAGE Factual information about GMOs in Europe can be hard to find, especially in languages other than English. Instead there are a lot of misperceptions about a fascinating technology that has truly rev- olutionised food and farming in much of the developed and developing world. This is why EuropaBio, together with partners in 11 countries, is launching the website, which includes important information about GMOs in 10 different languages. GM crops are already benefiting mil- lions of small farmers and their families in 19 developing countries. The European Academies of Science confirm that “There is compelling evidence that GM crops can contribute to sustainable development goals with benefits to farmers, consum- ers, the environment and the economy.” INTERNATIONAL PAKISTAN 'CLOSE TO' OPENING UP - OFFICIALLY - TO GM SEED Pakistan may be on the verge of - offi- cially – opening up to genetically mod- ified seed, although the switch may come too late to boost yields this year in cotton, which farmers are planting with outdated technology. Progress on several fronts on reform of seed approval and intellectual prop- erty regulations may “be operational in 2018, opening Pakistan to the official introduction of modern biotechnology … for the first time in its history”, the US Department of Agriculture bureau in Islamabad said. The move would not mean Pakistan farmers growing biotech crops for the first time. The country’s farmers have grown genetically modified cotton for some 15 years on what the bureau termed an “informal” basis, with GM seed now accounting for some 95% of seedings. A USDA report last year flagged that “Pakistan’s agricultural community is generally supportive of the expanded utilisation of biotechnology. Consumer acceptance is more mixed, but the pro- duction and consumption of biotech crops is generally accepted.” U.S. SECRETARY PERDUE ISSUES USDA STATEMENT ON PLANT BREEDING INNO- VATION U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue 28 March issued a statement providing clarification on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) over- sight of plants produced through inno- vative new breeding techniques which include techniques called genome editing. Under its biotechnology regulations, USDA does not regulate or have any plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breed- ing techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests. This includes a set of new techniques that are increasingly being used by plant breeders to produce new plant varieties that are indis- tinguishable from those developed through traditional breeding methods. The newest of these methods, such as genome editing, expand traditional plant breeding tools because they can introduce new plant traits more quickly and precisely, potentially saving years or even decades in bringing needed new varieties to farmers.