The German government is taking steps to eliminate the use of glyphosate weed killers within the next few years.
Germany can’t unilaterally ban glyphosate, as the products are licensed through the European Union. According to Bloomberg News, however, Angela Merkel’s cabinet agreed on Wednesday to oppose all license renewal requests made to the European Union for glyphosate-containing herbicides.
“I don’t expect that there will be a majority anywhere in the EU for glyphosate after 2022,” Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said on Wednesday during a news conference in Berlin.
Glyphosate will remain legal in the European Union, but farming policies will become greener. The German government is apparently aiming for a 75% reduction in the use of glyphosate weed killers by 2023.
Glyphosate is the most popular herbicide in the world, as well as the active ingredient in Monsanto Roundup. But in March 2015, the World Health Organization’s Institute for Research on Cancer declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen, after an independent review linked occupational exposure to an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers.
The move to eliminate glyphosate comes as the Merkel government faces increasing pressure on the environment. A focus on climate change and other environmental concerns have helped push Germany’s Green Party to prominence in recent years, and the once fringe, left-wing party has become a real threat to Merkel’s Social Democrats.
Just two years ago, her government faced a storm of controversy when Germany’s agriculture minister unilaterally voted in favor of extending the use of glyphosate-based weed killers.
This latest action is a serious blow to Bayer AG, the German-based company that acquired Monsanto last year.
Bayer is currently defending more than 18,400 Monsanto Roundup lawsuits in courts throughout the United States, all of which blame the glyphosate weed killer for causing cancer. While three Monsanto Roundup lawsuits have gone to trial since last August, Bayer has yet to win a single verdict.
The company is currently participating in court-ordered mediation efforts to resolve the massive litigation. Those talks are being led by Ken Feinberg, the prominent attorney behind the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and other high-profile legal settlements. Hopes for a Roundup lawsuit settlement grew in late July, when Bayer’s CEO suggested the company would be open to a “financially reasonable” agreement.