A few months ago, I wrote a column speculating on the consumer future of the popular herbicide glyphosate. This was in response to an online item I had come across saying that crop protection manufacturer Bayer was considering removing glyphosate from the consumer market to avoid potential future lawsuits involving the herbicide.
As fate would have it, my timing was spot on. Just as this column was hitting mailboxes and being posted on our website, Bayer announced it was planning to take glyphosate off the open market. The company and its partners plan to replace glyphosate-based products in the U.S. residential lawn and garden market with new formulations that rely on alternative active ingredients beginning in 2023, subject to a timely review by the EPA and state counterparts.
“This move is being made exclusively to manage litigation risk and not because of any safety concerns,” said Bayer in a press release. “As the vast majority of claims in the litigation come from lawn and garden market users, this action largely eliminates the primary source of future claims beyond an assumed latency period. There will be no change in the availability of the company’s glyphosate formulations in the U.S. professional and agricultural markets.
“Moreover, Bayer will engage in discussions with EPA about Roundup labels with the goal of providing more information to users about the science as an additional element towards ensuring even more informed purchasing and application decisions,” the release continued. “It will also set up a new website with scientific studies relevant to Roundup’s safety that will provide even more transparency to purchasers about the products they use. The website is expected to be launched by the end of 2021.”
Of course, for some long-time opponents of glyphosate use, this wasn’t good enough. In fact, according to Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety (which has filed numerous lawsuits against glyphosate over the years): “As agricultural, large-scale use of this toxic pesticide continues, our farmworkers remain at risk. It’s time for EPA to act and ban glyphosate for all uses.”
While it’s doubtful a complete glyphosate ban will occur, it will be interesting to see how glyphosate fortunes now fair between now and 2023.