German Chancellor Angela Merkle told lawmakers that the controversial chemical glyphosate in Bayer AG’s widely used weed killer Roundup up will “eventually come to a point where glyphosate isn’t deployed anymore,” adding that it should be done in such a way as not to overburden farmers.
Bayer, which is based in Germany, purchased Monsanto last year for $62.5 billion. Since taking over the agribusiness, Bayer has faced three different trials in the United States alleging glyphosate in Roundup is a carcinogen and caused consumers to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The latest trial involved the case of an elderly married couple who had been been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The couple claimed that they had used Roundup in their garden for several years. Their trial, which ended in May, resulted in a staggering $2 billion verdict. The company faces nearly 10,000 similar lawsuits in the U.S.
Shares of Bayer tumbled after the verdict, reaching a seven-year low. Bayer has since announced that it would spend €5 billion to develop alternative herbicides, but insisted that it still saw a future with glyphosate. The company then said it had hired an outside attorney to assist the board in efforts to resolve cases.
Glyphosate has been on the market for more than 40 years and has become one of the most widely used weed killers in the world. Bayer – and Monsanto before it – continues to hold firm on its stance that the chemical is safe despite the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer listing glyphosate as a probable carcinogen.