The CEO of German chemical giant Bayer, Werner Baumann, has defended the multibillion-dollar takeover of Monsanto despite the huge legal costs that are piling up over the firm’s Roundup weed killer.
“The Monsanto acquisition was and is a good idea,” Baumann told Frankfurter Allgemeine when asked if he would change his mind about buying the US firm if he could. The acquisition was carried out after careful due diligence, he said.
Bayer is currently facing a total of 11,200 US cases over Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate, which is the most popular weed killer in the US.
The German company has rejected the accusations, claiming there are hundreds of scientific studies and regulatory authorities that show glyphosate is safe to use.
“Regulatory authorities around the world consider glyphosate-based herbicides as safe when used as directed,” it said, highlighting “800 rigorous studies” of the effects of glyphosate.
Bayer’s stock has lost almost 40 percent of its value since the US$63 billion (€55.6 billion) Monsanto acquisition in 2018.
Just two months after the acquisition was completed, Monsanto lost a case to a school groundskeeper suffering from terminal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, who had sued the company over the glyphosate weed killers Roundup and Ranger Pro. The jury ordered the company to pay a staggering $289 million in damages after ruling that the biotech corporation failed to properly warn users of Roundup’s health hazards.
In a separate US case last week, a jury decided that Roundup was a “substantial factor” in causing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma of a California man.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic. The EPA labeled glyphosate a carcinogen in 1985, but reversed its position in 1991.
The World Health Organization’s cancer research agency classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015. California has listed glyphosate in its Proposition 65 registry of chemicals known to cause cancer.