It’s a Cold Day in July
A neighbor sprays Roundup around his pristine, impressive flowerbed that runs along the front of his property. I am lucky that I was tipped off on the frequency of his spraying, because I have since changed the walking route that I take with my two puppies.
But as of 2023, I might be able to reinstate my former walking route. Bayer has announced that they will be pulling the glyphosate-based, residential Roundup products off of the shelves by 2023!!
Where will I place my keenly critical eye when it no longer is fixated on the neighbors flaunting their glossy glyphosate-spritzer wands? I won’t need to contemplate kicking over the glyphosate pyramids right at the entryway of Home Depot, or spend any more time quietly relocating the Roundup bottles distastefully displayed next to the baby toys at Target.
Today is a most excellent day.
In the online glyphosate-concerned circles, many have moaned that we shouldn’t be celebrating, given the big glyphosate fish still waiting to be fried over in agriculture. Indeed, the pull of glyphosate-based Roundup from residential markets does very little to address glyphosate’s role in the chronic disease epidemic and the gut ramifications of the pre-harvest desiccation of grains. The residential market is a very small slice of the overall glyphosate problem. However, speak to the thousands of plaintiffs who have developed cancer from home-use – they would surely agree that today’s news is momentous.
So what brought about this pull? While I would love to say that Bayer has decided to own up to knowingly selling a carcinogen, we can attribute the move purely to litigation risk management. Most of the NHL cases arose from the home use of Roundup. As noted in previous GG posts, Bayer’s previous proposals for dealing with glyphosate-exposed plaintiffs who have not yet become ill with NHL were nixed by a rightfully skeptical and appropriately snarky Judge Chhabria.
In response, Bayer has ditched their proposed class action group (bad news for the hungry class-action attorneys), and instead will wait to see what comes of an appeal of the Hardeman case to the US Supreme Court. The Supreme Court could reject review of the case, which means Hardeman wins his trial, and litigation would continue. The Supreme Court could also review the case and award the verdict to Bayer – a situation that is not too far fetched given the intertwined nature of the branches of our corporatocracy.
If the rulings are unfavorable for Bayer, they will provide a formal process to address the claims of future plaintiffs alleging Roundup caused their NHL. Bayer has allotted an additional $4.5 billion for future payments due to the litigation. While that number is large, so is their potential liability. In fact, $4.5 billion doesn’t seem nearly large enough, given the next two years in which people can purchase glyphosate at Home Depot, and the commonly experienced 10-15 year latency period to develop NHL.
Understandably, Bayer is under pressure to convince investors that they can get the Roundup litigation under control. Given how highly levered Bayer is, the move can’t come soon enough. Bayer’s ability to pay down the debt that was raised to acquire Monsanto and pay for litigation stands to be strained. Bayer’s pharmaceutical unit will take a huge hit when their blockbuster drug, the blood thinner Xarelto, loses patent protection beginning in 2023. Their other key Bayer pharma revenue driver, eye treatment Eylea, will also soon lose its patent. If the Supreme Court doesn’t save Bayer’s ass, there will be some highly lean years over at Bayer if they are going to successfully avoid bankruptcy.
Bayer plans to continue to sell “Roundup”, but with yet-to-be revealed, glyphosate-replacing ingredients. Bayer already sells a glyphosate-free version of Roundup in Europe, but I imagine the US Roundup Part 2 will be more toxic than its European counterpart. Dicamba will certainly be present. Other mysterious potions of confidential ingredients will likely join the party. The highly toxic surfactant POEA, that so effectively delivers glyphosate into the bodies of plant and animal life, will likely remain. So I will keep my daughter’s soccer cleats handy in the likely event that I need to deliver a swift kick into the pyramid of reformulated Roundup at Home Depot.
Nonetheless, today I choose not to play devil’s advocate, and instead simply enjoy the win! Barring an extensive black market of glyphosate-based Roundup (not kidding – such markets exist), we are one step closer to walking bare-footed or bare-pawed around our neighborhoods, without concern of acquiring cancer.