German chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer has announced plans to invest billions over the next decade to develop “additional methods to combat weeds” as questions swirl around the safety of its popular glyphosate-based Roundup weedkiller. Bayer said it plans to invest $5.6 billion in the effort over the next ten years as part of a previously approved budget. In a statement, the company said that “while glyphosate will continue to play an important role in agriculture and in Bayer’s portfolio, the company is committed to offering more choices for growers.”
Roundup is at the center of more than 13,000 lawsuits over the safety of glyphosate, which plaintiffs claim caused cancer. Bayer has already lost three court cases in the U.S. over the matter. In the latest judgement, a California jury concluded that sustained exposure to Roundup weed killer led to a couple’s cancer diagnoses and awarded them $2 billion in punitive damages, the largest-ever U.S. jury award over such claims.
Bayer became the owner of Roundup when it bought Monsanto last year for $63 billion. It has continued to argue that studies have established that glyphosate is safe. The courts are not the only ones that disagree. The World Health Organization’s cancer agency says that the weedkiller is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
Bayer’s shares hit seven-year lows after it lost the case with the California couple. The shares have lost more than 40 percent since the Monsanto deal closed a year ago. The share price slide has left Bayer with a market valuation of $56 billion, less than what it paid in the Monsanto deal.
Bayer has promised to reduce its environmental impact by 30 percent through 2030. It has also promised to increase transparency around its research efforts. Bayer says that its efforts “will help to restore and retain biodiversity, combat climate change, and make the most efficient use of natural resources.”