Bayer Commits $5.6 Billion to Glyphosate Alternatives Amid 13,000 Lawsuits Over the Weedkiller

Bayer Commits $5.6 Billion to Glyphosate Alternatives Amid 13,000 Lawsuits Over the Weedkiller

Friday, June 14, 2019

Bayer AG will pump about 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) of its research and development budget into alternatives to its weedkiller glyphosate over the next decade as it battles more than 13,000 lawsuits claiming the herbicide causes cancer.

Trying to ease concerns about the controversial compound, the German chemical and drug company said it will seek more public feedback during the coming safety certification process in Europe. Bayer wants to offer farmers new products to combat weeds while standing behind glyphosate-based Roundup, which it acquired via its $63 billion purchase of Monsanto.

“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,” according to a statement Friday.

Bayer is working to rehabilitate its image as it battles a wave of U.S.-centered litigation that has spread to other countries such as Australia. Last month, the German company suffered a third straight trial loss over claims that exposure to Roundup caused cancer, prompting some analysts to raise their estimates for settling the litigation to as much as $10 billion.

The 5 billion euros in spending on new herbicides over the next decade does not represent new money. It’s part of Bayer’s existing 2.5 billion-euro annual budget for crop science research and development, spokesman Tino Andresen said. The company expects more growth from seeds and digital farming businesses in coming years, where innovation is expected to yield greater rewards.

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