Three Massive Mergers - Millions for One Bank and a Disaster for Food, Water, and Climate
In addition to advising on all three mega-mergers, Credit Suisse is playing a big role behind the scenes of the Dakota Access pipeline.
Three Massive Mergers - Millions for One Bank and a Disaster for Food, Water, and Climate
Dakota Access construction and Standing Rock water protectors. Photo by Rob Wilson Photography.
By Wenonah Hauter / yesmagazine.org
Oct 24, 2016

You probably learned in high school that monopolies are bad for consumers; they eliminate the field of competition in the marketplace, leaving people with fewer options and higher prices. Mega-mergers in the food and energy markets are allowing a handful of corporations to dominate market sectors. Their market dominance means that when it comes to influencing public policy, politically powerful companies call the shots. As Elizabeth Warren said in a speech recently, competition is dying—and the accompanying consolidation in sector after sector is a threat to our democracy.

Beyond the corporate quest for market dominance, there is another reason these mergers keep coming at everyone else’s expense: the deals make big money for the powerful banks that wield enormous power over our democracy. One such bank is Credit Suisse.

Here are the three most valuable mergers happening this year: U.S.-based Monsanto is being bought by German corporation Bayer for $64.5 billion; ChemChina is acquiring Swiss seed and pesticide company Syngenta for $46.7 billion; and the Canadian pipeline company Enbridge is attempting to purchase Houston-based Spectra for $43.1 billion.

There is one thing these deals in the works have in common: they are all being advised by Credit Suisse. And that consultation comes at a hefty price: Enbridge and Spectra are expected to pay banks nearly $100 million in advisory fees alone. For the Monsanto-Bayer merger, fees could top $200 million.

What these mergers mean for food, water, and climate

While the business press is all aflutter over all the money to be made by these mega-mergers, beyond the headlines these deals are a disaster for our food, water, and climate, not to mention our communities on the front lines of industrial agriculture and energy infrastructure.

In North Dakota, Credit Suisse is playing a big role behind the scenes, banking against the Standing Rock Sioux, along with Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Citigroup, and more. When we revealed this last month, we hadn’t yet seen a huge separate loan of $850 million to Energy Transfer, which is Enbridge’s main partner on the Dakota Access pipeline project. The pipeline jeopardizes the tribe’s sole source of water, and yet over the tribe’s objections, it’s still being built.

If the Enbridge merger with Spectra goes through, it would make the biggest energy infrastructure company in North America, with huge political influence. The company has every intent to maximize the amounts of oil and gas that can be brought to the surface and burned, using fracking, but this is at the expense of targeted communities and the stability of our climate.

If the Monsanto and Syngenta mergers go through, Big Agribusiness would have even more economic power over farmers, increasing the prices they pay and limiting their choices for seeds and farm inputs. Even more crops will be grown with dangerous herbicides like glyphosate that have been linked to the growth of superweeds as well as cancer. And lobbying groups will continue to sway the debate over GMOs, thanks to their millions of dollars spent on marketing and misleading people about so-called benefits while downplaying the risks.

More market power = more lobbying heft

I’ve written extensively about mergers in the food and energy industry in my two booksFoodopoly and Frackopoly. As companies become more powerful, so does their lobbying heft. This influence peddling paves the way for deregulation and ever-more consolidation. Companies basically get to play by their own rules—and people have to fight that much harder to make their voices heard in our democracy when this cycle continues.

When you look at food issues from this lens, it’s easy to see why our policies incentivize industrial agriculture and genetically modified organisms. Even before Ag secretary Earl Butz said farmers need to “get big or get out” in the early 1970s, our food and farm policy has favored large industrial interests. A handful of influential players, from Monsanto to Cargill to Walmart, have enjoyed the spoils—very lax regulations and the ability to literally buy up their competition. This has led to policies that have created bigger and badder factory farms, for example, or made it harder for farmers get a fair price for their products.

The story is not much different in the oil and gas industry. Since the days of JD Rockefeller, the biggest oil companies have been busy consolidating their power and stopping environmental progress in its tracks, even going so far as to cover up the role of burning fossil fuels in climate change.

While the banks are making money on these mergers, the water protectors at Standing Rock are on the front lines—along with many other communities, such as those in North Carolina, who are now facing the fallout of massive amounts of factory farm waste flooding communities after Hurricane Matthew. They are bearing the brunt of the effects of our highly consolidated food and energy systems. But make no mistake: as a society, we will all suffer from these mergers, while the banks continue to enjoy record profits and to resist necessary action on climate change because of their own bottom lines.


Wenonah Hauter wrote this article for YES! Magazine. Wenonah is executive director of Food & Water Watch. She is the author of Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment.

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
Looking Forward to the Day That Nationalism Is as Reviled as Racism
Tim Hjersted · 8,389 views today · Nationalism is a form of geographical racism that makes some lives matter more than others, and explicitly justifies that logic without apology. While today, not even lying...
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 4,796 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Supporters 'Ecstatic' After Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning's Sentence
Nika Knight · 4,666 views today · Whistleblower to be released from military prison in May
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 3,104 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 3,052 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Escape! From the Cult of Materialism (2016)
50 min · 1,307 views today · Does the philosophy of materialism work to destroy our identities, experience, and environment? Join narrator Daphne Ellis on a radical romp through the evidence and decide for...
What Is My Activism Really About? to Love, Serve and Remember
Tim Hjersted · 983 views today · I have made a promise to this world that I will carry with me to my last days. It is my vow to lessen the suffering of the world while I am here - it is to ensure that every...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 891 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Before He Was Assassinated, MLK Jr. Was Advocating For An End To Income Inequality
10 min · 671 views today · We can honor MLK Jr. by pursuing the causes he was advocating for before he was killed.  ​​ Part 2: The Basic Income, A New Human Right (3 minutes) MLK's idea of a basic...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 656 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine · 598 views today · “…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” —Arthur Young; 1771 Our popular economic wisdom says that...
Coping With Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the White House
N Ziehl · 567 views today · I want to talk a little about narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve unfortunately had a great deal of experience with it, and I’m feeling badly for those of you who are...
One "Piece of the Oppressor" That I Have Discovered Within Myself
Tim Hjersted · 547 views today · One "piece of the oppressor" that I have found in myself during my inner activist journeys is my use of shame as a method of engaging with the world's problems. Having learned...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 406 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
The Greening of the Self: The Most Important Development of Modern Times
Joanna Macy · 370 views today · Something important is happening in our world that you are not going to read about in the newspapers. I consider it the most fascinating and hopeful development of our time...
Stunning Photos By Alexander Semenov Showcase The Alien Beauty Of Jellyfish
Earth Porm · 335 views today · Jellyfish appear like beautiful aliens in Alexander Semenov’s photography, calling a new attraction to a magical species of marine life. Alexander Semenov is a marine...
This Woman Gets No Applause...Why? They Are Too Creeped Out...
7 min · 326 views today · Think you aren't being fooled by advertising tricks? Take a look at this so-called expert revealing food marketing's secret weapon. No amount of marketing makes factory farming...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 284 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
What Martin Luther King Jr. Can Teach Us about Nonviolence
John Dear · 265 views today · I've been reflecting on the principles of nonviolence that Martin Luther King Jr. learned during the historic yearlong bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. After Rosa Parks refused...
The Corporation (2003)
145 min · 254 views today · The Corporation is today's dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This 26 award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Three Massive Mergers - Millions for One Bank and a Disaster for Food, Water, and Climate