Bayer first made a bid for Monsanto in September, but was spurned because Monsanto executives said their company is worth more.
Bayer upped its bid and reached a deal.
Many hurdles remain, such as satisfying competition watchdogs in the many countries where both companies market their products.
Both are world leaders in developing and marketing crop varieties and pesticides.
Farmers are big losers in this deal, and not just because seed and pesticide prices will probably go higher.
They lose because research and development will be merged under one leader, lessening innovation and competition in that important sphere. That leader will also probably pare research and development facilities.
What's needed is far more innovation and competition, and several good places to start are by:
- cancelling patents that apply to variety development, including patents on genes and genetic-manipulation technologies;
- cancelling plant breeders' rights that enable companies to charge premiums for improved varieties and
- greatly increasing funding for public institutions, such as universities and government research centres, so they can pursue plant breeding with the goal of improving farming and nutrition.