Weed-killer woes

Monsanto’s Roundup a looming liability for Bayer as megamerger nears

Roundup Herbicide Production And Shipping Operations At A Monsanto Co. Facility As Bayer AG Continue Acquisition Quest
A farmer's friend or foe? Source: Bloomberg

As Europe’s antitrust watchdogs deliberate over one of the largest mergers in the global seed and chemicals industry, letters from constituents calling for a halt to the deal between Bayer and Monsanto are flooding into Brussels. Citizens worry that together, Bayer, as the world’s largest producer of pesticides, and Monsanto, the leading supplier of genetically-modified seeds, will stifle competition and create a monopoly.

Thanks to recent concessions made by Bayer to assuage anti-trust regulators, which include parting with its remaining seed business and providing a competitor access to its popular IT platform, the German conglomerate’s prospects for cinching the deal are more promising than ever.

Yet Bayer’s compromises might not be enough if Missouri-based Monsanto’s legal troubles throw a wrench in the works: The agrochemical giant currently faces 2,200 law suits in the US alone, which claim Monsanto’s flagship product, Roundup, and more specifically its main ingredient glyphosate, causes cancer.

Monsanto is also involved in legal action against the state of California. It wants to end regulations that force it to include warnings on products containing glyphosate. The rules were passed after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer announced in 2015 that glyphosate was likely carcinogenic. Monsanto says its product is safe if used as directed.

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