Glypho report fails to quell Bayer shareholder unrest

Glypho report fails to quell Bayer shareholder unrest

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Glyphosate remains a contentious subject, in spite of a US EPA report saying it was not carcinogenic.

Glyphosate remains a contentious subject, in spite of a US EPA report saying it was not carcinogenic.

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A report found glyphosate was not a carcinogen, but Bayer shareholders remain restless in light of Roundup-related court cases in the US.

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THE CROP protection industry is claiming a report from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reaffirming the safety of the popular herbicide glyphosate as further evidence it is safe to continue to use the product.

However, on a week where proponents of the herbicide should have been on the offensive, a tense Bayer annual general meeting, where shareholders questioned the German giant's decision to acquire agriculture giant Monsanto, primarily because of the spate of lawsuits based on Monsanto's flagship Roundup herbicide, which has glyphosate as the active ingredient.

Bayer shareholders are unhappy at the hit the company value may take as a result of the reported 13,400 lawsuits currently filed in the US by plaintiffs claiming Roundup has contributed to their cancer.

Two such cases have already been upheld in favour of the plaintiff in California, although Bayer remains adamant this does not set a precedent.

A third case, however, is currently in front of the courts, and it has been reported another loss could see Bayer look at some form of global settlement rather than contesting each case, which would cost the company a massive sum.

Shareholders voted not to absolve Bayer chief executive Werner Baumann and other high ranking executives from responsibility from their responsibilities in regards to the Monsanto takeover.

The motion is not binding, but demonstrates the unrest felt about the decision to acquire the controversial Monsanto business.

Meanwhile, the EPA has said glyphosate is not a carcinogen and is no risk to public health when used according to label instructions.

CropLife Australia chief executive Matthew Cossey said it was yet another scientific study showing the herbicide was safe.

"The finding is consistent with the world's most sophisticated and globally leading independent regulatory agencies, that glyphosate is safe to use."

He said more than 800 scientific studies and independent regulatory safety assessments support the fact that glyphosate does not cause harm to humans or the environment.

Mr Cossey said the science behind the EPA review was much more rigorous than that used by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in its bombshell 2015 report that found glyphosate was a 'probable' carcinogen.

The IARC finding has been a key argument for those looking to stop the use of the herbicide.

However, Mr Cossey said the EPA used 15 carcinogenicity studies in its evaluation, almost double the number of studies considered by IARC.

Meanwhile the world continues to await for more clarity regarding Vietnam's glyphosate ban.

Vietnam last month made a ban on the use of the herbicide, and while there has been lobbying to urge the Vietnamese government to reconsider the decision, at present the ban remains.

The Australian grains industry is confident that the ban will not impact wheat exports to Vietnam, as glyphosate residues are rarely found in testing of Aussie wheat for herbicide residues, such as the National Residue Survey.

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