Bayer AG CEO ready to put Roundup legal battle in past

Bayer CEO: Roundup is a safe product

Bayer CEO Werner Baumann discusses the company’s $10 billion Roundup settlement.

On the heels of a legal settlement with thousands who claimed Bayer AG weedkiller Roundup causes cancer, the company's CEO has said he is glad the conflict has been resolved so they can now focus on the other important issues grappling the nation.

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Speaking to FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on Thursday morning, Bayer AG CEO Werner Baumann said he and the company were ready “to put this now behind us” and turn their focus to other important issues, such as world hunger.

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“There are much more important things for us as a company that we are in business for that we can focus on now. If you look at 800 million people that will go to bed hungry tonight, the 10 billion people that need to be fed in a few decades from now,” Baumann said. “These are the things that we are working on as a company to provide better solutions for farmers to produce more with less going forward and at the same time do the right thing to protect the planet.”

BAYER REACHES $10.5 BILLION SETTLEMENT OVER WEEDKILLER ROUNDUP

Bayer announced Wednesday it will pay up to $10.9 billion to settle litigation over Roundup. The company will pay an additional $1.22 billion to settle two additional areas of intense litigation, one involving toxic chemical PCB in water and one involving dicamba, another weedkiller.

Ken Feinberg was a mediator in the matter, Baumann said. Feinberg was one of the people who handled the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund and was enlisted in July 2019 to oversee Boeings' victim fund.

The company said the settlement over Roundup, which is made by its Monsanto subsidiary, involves about 125,000 filed and unfiled claims. Under the agreement, Bayer will make a payment of $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to resolve current litigation and $1.25 billion to address potential future litigation.

Containers of Roundup are displayed on a store shelf in San Francisco on Feb. 24, 2019. (Associated Press) 

Monsanto developed glyphosate — a key ingredient in Roundup — in the 1970s. The weedkiller has been sold in more than 160 countries and widely used in the U.S. Bayer, which bought St. Louis-based Monsanto in 2018, said last year that all government regulators who have looked at the issue have rejected a link between cancer and glyphosate.

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The herbicide came under increasing scrutiny after the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, classified it as a “probable human carcinogen” in 2015.

Nonetheless, Baumann and the company continue to maintain that Roundup is safe.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says glyphosate is safe for people when used in accordance with label directions.

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Baumann reiterated the notion Thursday, emphasizing that glyphosate is not carcinogenic and will be “fully available” to both farmers and consumers.

Customers “continue to demand the product and continue to buy it because it is safe, it is very efficacious,” he stressed. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with the product.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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