Bayer begins Monsanto integration, remains defiant over glyphosate ruling

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Bayer begins Monsanto integration, remains defiant over glyphosate ruling

Germany-based Bayer has begun the process of integrating Monsanto following the completion on Thursday of a divestment to rival BASF.

The European Commission in March approved Bayer's US$62.5 billion takeover of the U.S. company on the condition that it sells certain Crop Science businesses.

Bayer, which became Monsanto's sole owner on June 7, said these businesses were sold to BASF for around US$2.5 billion.

One of the requirements of the U.S. Department of Justice was that Bayer and Monsanto remain separate companies and continue to operate separately until completion of these divestments.

Bayer said in a statement that the acquisition "gives rise to a leading agriculture company with a high level of innovative strength, a strong product portfolio and the highest ethical standards."

California glyphosate ruling

Monsanto was last week ordered to pay US$289 million in damages in damages to a terminally ill man, after a California jury found that the company’s glyphosate-based weedkillers, including Roundup, caused his cancer. 

The case was the first lawsuit to go to trial alleging glyphosate – the world’s most common weedkiller – is carcinogenic. There are more than 5,000 similar plaintiffs across the U.S. 

Bayer shares have slid significantly since the ruling, with the company having lost about US$18 billion in market value this week, Bloomberg reported.

In its Thursday statement, Bayer said that the jury's decision is "at odds with the weight of scientific evidence, decades of real world experience and the conclusions of regulators around the world that all confirm glyphosate is safe and does not cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma."

It also highlighted that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently reaffirmed glyphosate does not cause cancer, and added that regulators including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) have also concluded that glyphosate can be used safely.

"The jury’s verdict is just the first step in this case, and it remains subject to post-trial motions in the trial court and to an appeal, as announced by Monsanto," it said.

"As this case proceeds, Bayer believes courts ultimately will find that Monsanto and glyphosate were not responsible for Mr. Johnson’s illness."

The company explained that due to the  U.S. Department of Justice's aforementioned requirements, Bayer "did not have access to detailed internal information at Monsanto."

"Under these conditions, Bayer was not permitted to influence matters relating to Monsanto’s business, and its ability to actively comment on them in detail was extremely limited," it said.

"Today, however, Bayer also gains the ability to become actively involved in defense efforts in the glyphosate trials and any other legal disputes, such as potential claims for damages in connection with the product Dicamba."

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