Bayer begins integration of Monsanto as glyphosate controversy rages
Bayer AG, the German company that bought Monsanto on June 7, began to integrate the operations of Monsanto last week as the controversy surrounding glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, Monsanto’s weed killer, continued to rage.
In a news release, Bayer noted that one of the requirements from the Justice Department to approve the acquisition was the divestment by Bayer to BASF of certain crop science businesses with a total sales volume of around 2.2 billion euros. The divestment was completed last week.
In a news release noting the integration, Monsanto also said that a jury’s verdict ordering it to pay $289 million to a groundskeeper who had sprayed Roundup and got cancer, “is at odds with the weight of scientific evidence, decades of real-world experience and the conclusions of regulators around the world that all confirm glyphosate is safe and does not cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”
“The National Institutes of Health recently reaffirmed glyphosate does not cause cancer,” Monsanto said. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the European Food Safety Authority, the European Chemicals Agency and other regulators around the world have also concluded that glyphosate can be used safely.”
“The jury’s verdict is just the first step in this case, and it remains subject to post-trial motions in the trial court and to an appeal,” Monsanto said.
Bayer also noted that due to Justice Department requirements that the businesses remain separate until the divestment, the company “did not have access to detailed internal information at Monsanto.”
“Under these conditions, Bayer was not permitted to influence matters relating to Monsanto’s business, and its ability to actively comment on them in detail was extremely limited,” Bayer said.
“Today, however, Bayer also gains the ability to become actively involved in defense efforts in the glyphosate trials and any other legal disputes, such as potential claims for damages in connection with the product Dicamba.”
Meanwhile, the Environmental Working Group released a study showing Roundup residues in some breakfast cereal.
On Monday Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called on the EPA to release more data on its investigation of glyphosate.
“Startling headlines about glyphosate are popping up like weeds themselves, giving root to lots of serious questions and concerns for the government to act,” Schumer said in a news release.
“So, I am making it known today that the federal government is in fact investigating this chemical, and I am here today to ask them to provide us all with an update on their work so that concerned parents and consumers can get the answers they seek.”
“Respected science tells us that at certain levels, the presence of glyphosate in foods is not life-threatening, but we also don’t know exactly how continued or prolonged exposure might play a role in how our bodies — or the bodies of children — breakdown its molecular structure in those foods,” Schumer said.
“Simply put, the FDA must not only weed out the facts on glyphosate, but they must update the public on their progress. I have full confidence in their ability to effectively continue this study, but we are here to send them a message: get going.”
GLYPHOSATE IN BRAZIL
This week Brazil is expected to appeal the decision by a Brazilian judge to impose a temporary ban on the use of the chemical glyphosate there, AgriCensus Daily reported Monday.
“Brazil’s attorney general is just waiting for some additional information from the Agriculture Ministry to appeal,” Daniele Siqueira, analyst at Brazilian consultancy Agrural, told AgriCensus.
The Brazilian agriculture ministry told AgriCensus that the product is key to the nation’s agroindustry and that the impact of a permanent ban will be “gigantic” on its annual output.
Earlier last week agriculture minister Blairo Maggi described the pesticide as “absolutely safe” and called the criticism “urban legends.”
“Glyphosate makes it viable for us to plant and grow crops. What is the alternative?,” Maggi asked reporters.
“We can’t plant the new soybean crop without glyphosate — and farmers have already bought all the inputs, including glyphosate,” Siqueira said. “Ninety-five percent of our soybean production is no-till (farming) and it’s impossible to do that without glyphosate.”
But AgriCensus also noted that the French minster of environment said he hoped the U.S. case would end political indifference, while the German government hinted it would phase out the use of glyphosates within three years.