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Bayer to provide public access to glyphosate safety studies

Study summaries to be available next month with underlying reports available next year

Bayer’s Crop Science division will provide public access to data on its legacy company Monsanto’s herbicide, glyphosate, via its transparency platform as of next month.

Safety study summaries for glyphosate will be available on the company’s dedicated transparency website from December 7, 2018 to mark the first anniversary of Bayer’s Transparency Initiative.

Furthermore, access to the underlying safety study reports – owned by Bayer and submitted for the review that led to the EU renewal in December last year – will be enabled next year, the company added. The EU approved the herbicide for just five years after several member states rejected reapproval.

In a statement, Bayer group board member and president of the Crop Science division Liam Condon emphasised the company’s intention to add to its policy on safety data and noted the popular demand for information on the increasingly controversial herbicide.

“We recognise that people around the world want more information around glyphosate – and we are eager to offer access to our glyphosate-related safety data on our dedicated transparency platform,” he said.

Bayer finally completed the purchase of Monsanto in June this year, after originally agreeing on merger in 2016, in a deal worth around $66 billion.

Outcomes not inputs

Separately, Condon told the FT Global Food Systems conference in London this week that Bayer’s longer term aim is to move away from providing farmers with inputs and towards delivering outcomes.

This could be achieved via new digital technologies and services, such as those offered by Bayer owned business Climate Corporation.

He highlighted the challenges facing the agriculture sector in the years ahead, including climate change, limits to available farmland and evolving consumer preferences, and said Bayer will in the future be able to offer farmers guaranteed outcomes such as a particular target yield for crops, or a completely disease-free field.

Condon said such outcome-based models are common place in other industries such as pharmaceuticals – a sector in which he himself worked for a number of years.

French actions on glyphosate

Meanwhile, glyphosate use remains a key topic for legislators on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the EU, France’s agriculture and ecology ministers last week confirmed their intention to phase out the main uses of the herbicide within three years, despite the French National Assembly rejecting a bid to enshrine the ban into law last September.

Addressing the joint information mission on the National Assembly, the ministers said the phase-out is part of a wider plan to reduce the use of plant protection products and insisted farmers will not be left without solutions.

Ecology minister François de Rugy said he is determined to get French agriculture out of glyphosate use by the end of 2020. “The exit plan for glyphosate will allow concrete progress without waiting until the end of 2020,” he said.

But agriculture minister, Didier Guillaume, pointed out that the commitment requires a deep transition in the country’s farming systems based on agro-ecology. “We must operate all the levers to offer concrete solutions to make this transition with farmers,” he said.

In the US, a groundskeeper who alleged exposure to weed killers containing the herbicide caused his terminal cancer was awarded $289 million in damages earlier this year, later reduced to $78m, while other similar cases are ongoing.

A version of this article first appeared on IEG Policy's sister website Agrow

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