Last year, US pesticide and seed giant Monsanto noisily stalked its Swiss rival Syngenta, in a bold effort to combine the globe's biggest seed company (itself) with the largest maker of insect- and weed-killing chemicals. The effort ultimately flopped, but it set in motion a veritable merger frenzy among the handful of companies that dominate the the global agribusiness trade. Syngenta succumbed to Chinese chemical giant ChemChina, US titans Dow and DuPont combined (in deal still pending regulatory approval), and Monsanto openly salivated over the agrichemical divisions of German giants BASF and Bayer. Now, however, Monsanto has emerged as the hunted party, and it is a European rival--Bayer--that is taking aim. In a Wednesday statement, Monsanto acknowledged "an unsolicited, non-binding proposal from Bayer AG for a potential acquisition of Monsanto, subject to due diligence, regulatory approvals, and other conditions."
Under a 2014 legal agreement, the National Marine Fisheries Service is required to issue findings on the use of the three pesticides under review -- chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion -- by the end of this year. The Environmental Protection Agency, which is also involved in the case, is responsible for determining whether pesticides sold in the United States are safe for people and wildlife.
The National Marine Fisheries Service issued its new biological opinion on three organophosphate pesticides -- chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion -- after a yearslong court fight by environmental groups. At the urging of pesticide manufacturers, the Trump administration had sought a two-year delay of a court-ordered deadline to issue the findings by the end of 2017, but it was unsuccessful.
U.S. stocks were slightly higher Wednesday morning as utility companies climbed. Energy companies were trading lower as the price of oil continued to slip. Stocks are at their lowest levels in two months after large losses in two of the last three days. The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 31 points, or 0.2%, to 18,097 as of 10:05 a.m. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5 points, or 0.2%, to 2,132.