Iowa Senator Grassley Calls for Full Review of ChemChina, Syngenta Deal

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, wants a thorough governmental review of ChemChina’s expected $43 billion purchase of Syngenta, citing concerns about U.S. food security.

In remarks to reporters on Tuesday morning, Grassley said he was sending a bipartisan letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, asking for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) to review the purchase.

And he wants the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration – who are not normally participants in CFIUS – to weigh in as part of that process.

However, as of Wednesday night, the senator’s letter was not yet publicly available, as additional signatures were being courted.

“While foreign direct investment is generally positive, careful consideration should be taken, especially if foreign governments are the buyers,” Grassley told Agri-Pulse.

“My concerns of concentration and national security are compounded by the fact that the Chinese government – if the Syngenta/ ChemChina deal is approved – would be both a regulator in regard to biotech product approval and also, at the same time, owner of an entity that needs biotech approval.”

Grassley noted that his concerns extend beyond this specific acquisition. Earlier this month, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack expressed similar reservations about seed industry consolidation.

“Clearly, there’s a desire by the Chinese government to acquire agricultural assets that give them access to better food production technology. My concerns for this transaction go beyond the jurisdiction of CFIUS.

“I remain troubled about the long-term effects of continued consolidation in the seed industry and what that will mean (to) the farmers who have fewer companies to buy seed from,” Grassley said.

After announcing the proposed deal in February, ChemChina and Syngenta voluntarily initiated a CFIUS review. The companies expect to close the deal by the end of 2016.

Source: Agri Marketing

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