German drug and chemicals company Bayer AG says it has entered talks with the Monsanto Company about the possible acquisition of the U.S.-based specialist in genetically modified crop seeds.

Leverkusen-based Bayer said in a short statement Thursday that its executives had met recently with their Monsanto counterparts "to privately discuss a negotiated acquisition of Monsanto Company."

Bayer, whose farm business produces seeds as well as compounds to kill weeds, bugs and fungus, says the proposed acquisition would help it "create a leading integrated agriculture business."

St. Louis, Missouri-based Monsanto said late Wednesday that it was reviewing Bayer's proposal. Neither company gave other details.

The possible deal had been rumored for a week but it was the first comment from either company.

Monsanto has some 20,000 employees; Bayer 117,000 worldwide.

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