Germany is limiting the use of weed killers that contain the chemical glyphosate with a goal of ending use of the products in the near future amid fears that glyphosate may cause cancer in those exposed to the chemical, Environmental Minister Svenja Schulze said.
The environmental ministry will also demand new nature conservation requirements for the approval process of herbicides because, Schulze said, “If other perhaps more damaging pesticides are used instead of glyphosate, the environmental won’t be any better off.”
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, one of the most commonly used herbicides in the world. Roundup is made by Monsanto, which was acquired recently by German-based Bayer AG.
In August, Monsanto was hit with a $289 million verdict in a landmark case brought by a California school groundskeeper who alleged that he developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma from regular use the company’s glyphosate-containing products. Last month, the award was reduced to $78 million.
Helmut Schramm, head of Bayer CropScience in Germany, said a ban of glyphosate in Germany would put German farmers at a competitive disadvantage. “Unfortunately, the debate over glyphosate in Germany is shaped by political interests and not by sound scientific insight,” he said. “Glyphosate is a safe, efficient and established product to secure farmers’ harvests.”
In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) listed glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” and pointed to studies in which those who worked regularly around the chemical were more likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.