April 16, 2024

News and Political Commentary

Bayer turns to state lobbying in battle over Roundup weedkiller

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Bayer has embarked on a lobbying effort to persuade US states to pass legislation that would cut billions of dollars in liabilities and reduce the legal threat the German company faces from an allegedly carcinogenic weedkiller.

Since 2018, Bayer has been ensnared in a complex and costly US legal battle over the weedkiller Roundup, whose active ingredient glyphosate has been blamed by tens of thousands of Americans for giving them cancer.

The German conglomerate maintains that the product is safe and says scientific research supports that view. Despite that, the company has taken steps to end the protracted crisis over Roundup, which Bayer acquired as part of its ill-fated $63bn acquisition of US crop sciences business Monsanto in 2016.

In 2020, Bayer reached a $10.9bn settlement over claims and set aside another $4.5bn a year later. The strategy Bayer embarked on this year has targeted Idaho, Iowa and Missouri, states where it has significant business operations.

Bayer lobbyists are pushing for local legislatures to pass bills that would affirm the primacy of federal laws on the labelling of Roundup, a key point of contention in the cases that have been fought across the US.

In a series of courtroom victories, lawyers for plaintiffs have argued that Roundup’s warning labels failed to meet state requirements and these are not pre-empted by federal law, helping them win billions of dollars.

Bayer has previously pointed to the fact that the US Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates weedkillers and their labelling, has ruled that Roundup is safe and approved its labelling.

The legal quagmire is one of multiple challenges facing Bayer chief executive Bill Anderson, who joined from Swiss drugmaker Roche last year and has vowed to restore the fortunes of one of Germany’s best-known companies.

Last month, Bayer said it would slash its…

2024-03-04 00:00:27

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