Bayer AG’s takeover of Monsanto Co. faces deeper scrutiny from European antitrust regulators who say they have “serious doubts” about uniting two of the world’s largest manufacturers of genetically engineered crop seeds and pesticides.
The European Commission said the $57 billion deal could add pressure on farmers already struggling against low crop prices. It has completed a preliminary probe but said Tuesday that it may need until January to finish its work, throwing into doubt the companies’ plans to complete their deal by year-end.
European Commission officials have said the Bayer-Monsanto deal raised concerns that farmers could wind up paying more for a narrower range of seeds and sprays, and see a slower pace of innovation in the labs where crop scientists tweak plant genes to enable them to survive herbicides and repel bugs.
Some farm groups and lawmakers in the U.S. have warned that the succession of mergers will diminish competition and lead to higher prices on the farm, and potentially for consumers.
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