Bayer/Monsanto continues their push to create a liability shield against lawsuits for harm caused by Roundup and the primary chemical gglyphosate. The House Agriculture Committee approved language in the farm bill that would provide pesticide and herbicide manufacturers with complete immunity from charges. Bayer’s lobbying efforts at the state level failed in various states, including Iowa and Kansas. According to the Washington Post, the bill was drafted with assistance from Bayer.

The debate regarding glyphosate has existed since the chemical was approved for use in 1974. Lately, chemical pesticide manufacturers have been facing hundreds of thousands of lawsuits for claims that Roundup has caused health problems for farmers who use the product. In 2015, The World Health Organization classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

The EPA conducted a review of glyphosate in 2020 and came to a different conclusion. They didn’t find any concerns with human health but said there are possible ecological concerns. The agency was brought to court by the Center for Food Safety (CFF), and the court determined that the EPA did not follow all of the necessary protocols for the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The court also determined that the cancer analysis regarding human health and glyphosate use was flawed.

The EPA said they could not conduct the review by October 2022 and now have until 2026 to complete a more thorough review. Meanwhile, Bayer is using the EPA analysis of glyphosate from 1993 as proof that the product is safe. The safety evaluation should negate any additional labeling requirements or liability for a product that the EPA says provides more benefit than harm.

This kind of liability shield doesn’t exist for any other product except vaccines. In the case of vaccines, a person who is injured goes through a review process before receiving funds from the vaccine injury compensation fund. If any plaintiff deems that to be insufficient, then they are unable to sue the manufacturer but can file suit against the federal government.

Certain hospitals and medical providers also have a liability shield under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The HighWire covered this topic regarding gender-affirming care procedures and an ongoing lawsuit in which Fenway Health is claiming immunity from liability under FTCA for its alleged negligence and misconduct.

The HighWire has also reported about the revolving door between the federal agencies and the industries they are tasked with regulating. There have been seven different directors of the EPA’s pesticide office and they all left the office to work for pesticide companies, including Bayer/Monsanto.

The EPA still allows glyphosate and claims it is safe based on an assessment from over 30 years ago. Since then, multiple studies have shown the product’s harmful effects, and a mountain of lawsuits have piled up on the desks of Bayer executives since they acquired Monsanto in 2018. Furthermore, the ecological assessment in 1993 does not account for the increased use of glyphosate.

The strong ties between industry and government were also apparent when Bayer exchanged emails with government officials to sound the alarm about a GMO seed ban in Mexico. That battle is ongoing as Mexico intends to ban GMO seeds for health, safety, and food sovereignty. Yet, the United States government has linked arms with Bayer/Monsanto to push against Mexico’s right to make its own nutritional choices.

In 2022, the USDA announced a $2.8 billion investment in “Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities.” Bayer is listed as a “major partner” for three of these projects. The first allocates up to $65 million to develop “markets for sorghum as a climate-smart commodity.” Another project allocates $60 million to partners Bayer and Tyson to help increase carbon sequestration and reduce emissions related to beef and livestock feed.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also praised Bayer as one of the champions of the “Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils” during his speech at the COP28 climate conference.

The U.S. government praises and works with a large chemical company based on reducing carbon emissions that cause climate change. However, the company’s product is linked to higher carbon emissions. A study from January 2023 shows that pesticide use increases emissions to cause climate change, increasing pests. That leads to farmers using higher amounts of pesticides. It is a harmful loop that degrades the land but enriches the pesticide manufacturers like Bayer.

Bayer has spent $2.23 million lobbying in 2024, according to Open Secrets. Among 46 lobbyists for the company, 38 of them formerly worked for government agencies. Over 80% of the lobbyists Bayer hires have worked previously for the government and maintain contacts within the federal bureaucracy. Every member of Congress who signed this portion of the bill has received financial contributions from Bayer.

A report by Peer.org found that the EPA has a secret backchannel of communication with chemical companies. When they exit the government agency, workers are encouraged to wipe their phones of text messages. Many of these workers go directly to work for chemical companies like Bayer.

Steven Middendorp

Steven Middendorp is an investigative journalist, musician, and teacher. He has been a freelance writer and journalist for over 20 years. More recently, he has focused on issues dealing with corruption and negligence in the judicial system. He is a homesteading hobby farmer who encourages people to grow their own food, eat locally, and care for the land that provides sustenance to the community.

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