Did Bayer AG do a Sly Deal on Glyphosate with EU Commission?
By F. William Engdahl
24 January 2017
There is growing evidence that the EU Commission’s extraordinary ruling of June 29, 2016 granting the toxic weed-killing agent Glyphosate a reprieve of 18 months until December, 2017 was made in order to allow sufficient time for Bayer AG, the new owner of Monsanto since December time to bring its substitute weed-killer on the market once the merger is complete. The issue is highly controversial not the least owing to a determination from an agency of the Geneva WHO that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen.” The EU Commission ignored that WHO determination, relied on a fraudullent German government safety assessment and ignored the will of a majority of EU Governments to give glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s world-leading weed-killer, Roundup, an artificial life extension.
Early in 2016, the EU Commission recommended re-approval for another 15-years of the license for the controversial glyphosate toxin, the most widely used weed-killer in the world, the main ingredient in Roundup of Monsanto. The Commission, a decidedly anti-democratic, non-elected body of faceless bureaucrats, declared then that their “yes” decision was based on the determination by the EU’s European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that there was no reason to believe glyphosate is a carcinogen. That all was before the decision by Germany’s Bayer AG to takeover Monsanto.
The snag in that early EU Commission decision to renew for another 15 years glyphosate lies in the fact that the EFSA refused to make open disclosure of the relevant health and safety studies EFSA claimed to rely on. Most alarming in that initial EU decision to renew was the fact that EFSA’s decision went totally against the 2015 determination by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that glyphosate, was a “probable human carcinogen.” In lay terms that means odds greater than 50% are that it causes human cancers on exposure. Glyphosate presence has been tested in ordinary drinking water or in food crops sprayed with Roundup of other glyphosate-based weed-killers.
German Government Corrupt Science
EFSA based its initial early 2016 glyphosate renewal approval solely on a report by Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), which in turn took its decision from a clearly biased report by Monsanto and other agrochemical industry groups. Using the Monsanto-linked assessment for glyphosate, the German BfR went against the professional and highly-respected WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer, stating, again using Monsanto’s self-interested claim, that glyphosate was “unlikely” to pose a cancer risk. IARC used only data that was in the public domain, but the corrupt German BfR based its report on secret industry studies by Monsanto and other agrichemical firms that it refused to release to IARC or to the public
Public pressure, the objections of several EU states and an EU-wide petition signed by more than one million EU citizens demanding an end to glyphosate use as well as a letter of protest signed by almost one hundred leading scientists to EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner (also known as DG SANTE) Vytenis Andriukaitis, were ignored.
The fact that the member states of the EU were unable to reach a required Qualified Majority vote in favor of renewing glyphosate, allowed the decision, through an EU Commission technical loophole, to fall to the clearly biased Vytenis Andriukaitis.
To little surprise, Andriukaitis ruled to extend. Until now however, the bizarre aspect was that he stated a renewal for only 18 months and not the 15 years requested by Monsanto and approved by him only a few months before.
Bayer Swallows Monsanto
The EU Commission extrordinary ruling flew in the face of the widely-accepted and even EU law that requires decisions based on the “precautionary principle,” namely that when there is the slightest doubt about health risks of a crop or chemocal, err on the side of precaution and ban.
Notably, Andriukaitis’ ruling for limited renewal of glyphosate was made on June 29 just as the boards of the German pesticide giant, Bayer AG and Monsanto were finalizing weeks of discussion of a friendly $66 billion takeover of Monsanto to create the largest agribusiness leviathan on the planet, with an alarming 29 percent of the world’s seeds, most of the market share of GMO patented seeds, and 24 percent of its pesticides and agrichemicals.
To make the situation more alarming for those of us seeking a healthy diet, in 2016 a huge cartelization of world agrichemicals and GMO seed makers took place. In addition to the Baywer swallow of Monsanto, ChemChina, a China state chemical company bought the large Swiss GMO and pesticide company, Syngenta. And the two other US GMO and agrichemical giants, Dow Chemical and DuPont, have also merged in the past twelve months. The Swiss company fended off that offer only to agree later to a takeover by China’s state-owned ChemChina. The effect is that these now three giant behemoth companies control nearly 70 percent of the world’s pesticide market and 80 percent of the U.S. corn-seed market, most all the latter GMO seed.
Bayer Takes Liberty
At this point, since the WHO determination that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen,” glyphosate’s days were clearly numbered. Now once the technical corporate takeover by Bayer of Monsanto is completed, expected towards the end of this year, 2017, just as the renewal for glyphosate expires, Bayer AG plans to push its fast-growing substitute for glyphosate known by the trade name, Liberty and Basta, a so-called systemic Glufosinate weed-killer similar to glyphosate but without (so far) the WHO stigma of carcinogenic.
Moreover, since the Monsanto patent on glyphosate-based Roundup expired, other companies have been flooding the market globally with cheap substitutes. Three Chinese companies — Jiangsu Sevencontinent, Hebei Veyong, and Sichuan Lier — have been aggressively exporting glufosinate since 2015. Production of glufosinate on the other hand is far more limited allowing Bayer AG, minus Roundup, to emerge as the dominant weed-killer giant. Moreover, by offering to sell off its Roundup busiess, the new Bayer AG appears to be making a noble sacrifice in the interest of reducing anti-trust concerns.
There is no aspect of the Bayer AG takeover of Monsanto that is positive for the world. To mention “anti-trust” violations is putting it mildly. Government anti-trust, certainly in the agribusiness sector is a dead letter. True protection of consumer health and safety is a dead letter, certainly in Brussels. How the Trump Presidency and his Agriculture Secretary nominee, former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, weigh in on this will be more than interesting to see. After all, Bayer-Monsanto is not “America First,” but a German company.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”