(Adds Cade’s response)
By Ana Mano
SAO PAULO, April 23 (Reuters) - A Brazilian grain growers association has launched a hotline 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.
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.
Bayer said it strictly complies with all conditions in the agreement with Cade to approve its acquisition of Monsanto. Fulfillment of the terms is being monitored by an international trustee appointed by Cade, Bayer said.
Aprosoja said Cade approved the deal with several conditions aimed at ensuring fair competition. The association said it was responsible, as a third party in the proceedings, for overseeing the company’s activities for the next five years to ensure compliance.
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 confirmed an ongoing investigation into alleged unfair practices in the market for seeds and transgenic events targeting Bayer and Monsanto that stemmed from their merger application.
Cade also said conditions to approve Bayer’s $66 billion tie-up with Monsanto included a ban on exclusivity in the sales channels, a ban on cross-selling and product bundling, and a commitment to license their products to all in the market. (Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Richard Chang)