The Monsanto takeover in 2018 promised big business for Bayer. At a time of intense pressure on pharmaceutical companies, the strengthening of Bayer’s agrichemical division seemed like the perfect solution. Monsanto owned Roundup, a leading weed killer, and genetically modified plants that worked perfectly with it. Together these products were a multibillion-dollar money-making machine. Bayer, meanwhile, had an established lobbying machine that was highly experienced in promoting toxic substances. To the company’s executives, Monsanto’s Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate looked to be a seamless fit.
In August 2018, a jury in California awarded $289 million to a cancer patient whose cancer was caused by the Monsanto weed killer Roundup. Monsanto (an agro-giant, now part of the pharmaceutical company Bayer) has spent years claiming that their glyphosate-based herbicides are safe for humans. This court case also revealed that Monsanto knew and concealed the carcinogenic effects of this herbicide. For decades, researchers have warned about the cancer causing potential of glyphosate, however, there was no consensus until now. In 2015, the International Agency of Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO), concluded that glyphosate has a substantial potential to cause non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in humans. Yet, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presently allows 50 times more glyphosate on corn crops than they did in 1996.
Roundup is a highly toxic herbicide containing the active ingredient glyphosate. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide which means that it kills most plants by preventing them from making certain proteins required for their growth. Monsanto produces Roundup and the seeds that grow into genetically engineered (GE) plants that are tolerant to glyphosate. Worldwide Roundup sales are approximately $6B annually. They are projected to be $9B by 2019 due to the demand created by the company’s proprietary Roundup Ready genetically modified crops. Roundup destroys all life in the soil. It kills all microbes that would typically help in plant growth by providing nutrients and protection from diseases.