The European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told CNBC on Tuesday that the final decision on the Bayer-Monsanto will be taken in the first half of 2018.
The provisional date given is April 5, but the “first half” reference could mean a further delay, until June 2018.
The €49bn acquisition ($60bn) would create an enormous one-stop shop for agricultural supplies, ranging from genetically engineered seeds to pesticides. The fear is that the merger would obliterate sectoral competition, raising costs for farmers.
The move has triggered a series of consolidation moves in the sector, including Chem China and Syngenta and DuPont and Dow.
The merger has also been criticised for rallying Bayer’s lobbying clout in support of Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup. The World Health Organization (WHO) has linked Roundup carcinogenic potential as it affects the human endocrinal system. In addition, it creates a strong European interest in genetically engineered seeds.
According to the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, these mergers would hand a few oligopolies control over 60% of the global market in seeds and pesticides.
Since Bayer submitted its bid, the European Commission has postponed making a final ruling five times. As explained by Commissioner Vestager, the delay allows companies to address concerns raised by the Commission.