Facing Another Court Ruling, Bayer to Invest Billions in New Weedkillers

Shares of German chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer are tanking as the extended controversy over its glyphosate persists in US courts.  If you were not aware, US litigation over claims that glyphosate pesticides (ie Roundup, which the life sciences brand acquired in its $63 billion takeover of Monsanto, last year) have hit the company hard and a $2 billion jury award in California dragged Bayer shares to a seven-year low. 

On its website, the 155-year old company confirms that they have listened to consumers and are learning to make better choices. The statement adds that the company has a “heightened responsibility” and is now in a unique position to advance their farming techniques to benefit both society and the planet. 

The statement continues, “While glyphosate will continue to play an important role in agriculture and in Bayer’s portfolio, the company is committed to offering more choices for growers.” Furthermore, the company insists that glyphosate is, in fact, safe. 

Still, the latest payout is the result of the third consecutive jury verdict against Roundup, in the United States. Each of these cases allege that those who used Roundup developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma over time.  More importantly, the payoff severely tanked Bayer’s share price, which has now pulled down the company’s market valuation to $56 billion. 

That in mind, Bayer is now saying they plan to invest at least 5 billion euro (approximately $5.6 billion USD) over the next decade to research new formulations that will not rely on glyphosate. In addition, Bayer has promised to reduce its environmental impact by 30 percent, also within the next ten years. The focus on this move is mainly into developing more precise and sparing applications of their crop chemicals. 

Indeed, Monsanto has already launched a new herbicide, but that is more because of the fact that glyphosate’s widespread popularity has contributed to herbicidal resistance among many plants. This includes palmer amaranth and waterhemp. The new herbicide is based on a different chemical, called dicamba.  And Monsanto has also genetically engineered soybean and cotton seeds to better withstand the spray. 

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