April 23, 2019 / 2:44 PM / a month ago

Brazil grain growers launch hot line to report Bayer's market practices

SAO PAULO, April 23 (Reuters) - A Brazilian grain growers association has launched a hot line to encourage farmers to report practices on the part of Germany’s Bayer SA that potentially could be anti-competitive, according to statement sent to Reuters on Tuesday.

Aprosoja Brasil, which called the initiative “an awareness campaign,” aims to galvanize farmers to report possibly unfair practices in the market for seeds, agrochemicals and sale of genetically modified (GM) seed technology carried out by Bayer or its subsidiary Monsanto.

Bayer did not have an immediate comment on the initiative.

The statement said Aprosoja Brasil was allowed to participate as a third party in Brazilian antitrust regulator Cade’s investigation launched during Bayer’s takeover of Monsanto. That merger was announced in September 2016 and closed in February 2018 in Brazil.

Aprosoja said that Cade approved the deal with several conditions aimed at ensuring fair competition. The association said that it was responsible for overseeing the company’s activities for the next five years to ensure it is complying with the terms.

Cade has opened an investigation into how Bayer collects its royalties in Brazil, including royalties from a patent that has possibly expired, Aprosoja said.

Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of soybeans, with farmers using GM seed technology to plant an estimated 93 percent of the country’s soy-growing area, according to Aprosoja Brasil estimates.

Cade did not have an immediate comment on the conditions imposed to approve Bayer’s $66 billion tie-up with Monsanto. (Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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