For the first time since the inception of the Competition Act, the Competition Tribunal (Tribunal) granted two Non Governmental Organisations leave to intervene in merger proceedings.
The African Centre for Biosafety and Biowatch South Africa (Biowatch) sought to intervene in the proposed merger between Panner Seed and Pioneer Hi-Bred International, the latter being an US based seed company. Application was made to intervene in the merger proceedings so that submissions regarding the public interest aspect of the proposed merger could be made. The public interest grounds included that the merger may lead to potential negative consequences for employment, food supply and seed sovereignty within South Africa by effectively placing control of most of South Africa's seed supply into the hands of two US-based corporations.
In a turnaround of events, Biowatch subsequently withdrew as an intervening party during September 2011. Biowatch has elected not to publicly state reasons for its withdrawal until the Tribunal has reached a decision regarding the proposed merger, stating only that it remains resolutely opposed to the merger and "continues to strive to promote a country and a world where people have control over their food supply systems, where benefits arising from commercial use of biological resources are fairly shared and where choices are open to small farmers as to their own agricultural practices and inputs".