Bayer AG, which acquired agri-giant Monsanto in June, posted more than 300 studies on the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in its widely used weed killer Roundup. The move comes four months after the company was hit with a $289 million verdict in a landmark trial brought by a school groundskeeper who alleged his exposure to the herbicide contributed to his terminal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis. (The award was later reduced to $78 million.)
The studies were posted to mark the first anniversary of Bayer’s “Transparency Initiative,” a major PR campaign designed to “enhance trust in the science behind crop protection products” in light of growing concerns about the safety of the products.
Bayer and Monsanto have maintained that glyphosate is safe despite the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) listing it as a probable carcinogen. The company faces more than 9,500 lawsuits from landscapers, farmers and even home gardeners who claim they developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from regular use of the product.
Roundup was introduced by Monsanto in the 1970s and shortly thereafter the company introduced genetically modified seeds that were resistant to the weed killer, allowing farmers to douse their crops with Roundup. The herbicide killed the weeds without harming the crops. Sales quickly boomed worldwide.
Bayer may post studies on its belief that glyphosate is safe but according to an opinion piece in The Guardian, at least three studies – in the U.S., Canada and Sweden – have linked glyphosate to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and California’s state environmental protection agency has also classified the chemical as a probable carcinogen.