As the battle over Bayer’s flagship weed killer Roundup rages on, a new fight has opened over another one of the company’s agricultural products. And, as if endangering their customers’ lives wasn’t quite bad enough, this time the company seems to be destroying their livelihood as well.
Over 140 lawsuits allege that Bayer’s herbicide dicamba ravaged crops when the chemical drifted onto fields from neighboring fields occupied by plants that had been specifically engineered to tolerate it. The losses have had a severe impact on midwestern-US agriculture and farmers want Bayer to be held accountable.
The results of the first dicamba trial give them a reason to hope. A peach farmer who lost his entire orchard to dicamba was awarded $265 million in a jury decision that has investors questioning whether sticking with Bayer is still a good idea. The company has lost 23 percent of its value since acquiring Monsanto in a deal worth some $63 billion. According to Bloomberg, Bayer CEO Werner Baumann is said to have “staked his career on Monsanto.” And while the corporation is gradually clawing back its value bit by bit, “there is still a huge question mark over the Monsanto transaction and what it’s done to Bayer. There remains a lot to be proven.”
In the meantime, sales of Roundup continue, even as negotiators work toward a settlement that would allow Bayer to put tens of thousands of Roundup cancer lawsuits behind it, likely without having to admit to any wrongdoing. Neither side is disclosing any position in the negotiations, however most stories about the settlement seem to hover around $8-10 billion. And, while many would consider that to be a staggering amount of money, the prospect of such a settlement has excited Wall Street as investors would consider the amount to be a bargain for Bayer. In fact, according to Bloomberg, shares in the company “would probably surge if Bayer can close the Roundup headache for as little as $10 billion.”
One has to wonder how those whose lives have been decimated by Bayer might feel about the corporation moving on from their “headache” for a bargain price that would instantly add tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars to the company’s value virtually overnight.