The German cabinet passed legislation today that completely phases out glyphosate, the controversial chemical that’s the main active ingredient in Roundup weed killer. A Reuters report says that the legislation is intended to preserve clean habitats for insects, and that German farmers will have to phase out their usage of glyphosate—which is both an herbicide and a registered pesticide—and stop using it by 2024.
Per Reuters, a statement from the German environment minister Svenja Schulze reads, ““The exit from glyphosate is coming. Conservationists have been working toward this for a long time. Glyphosate kills everything that is green and takes away insects’ basis for life.”
German farmers are not happy about the legislation. They say that cooperation between farmers and conservationists would be more effective at promoting ecological diversity than an outright ban. Furthermore, the farmers object to the ban because, they say, it puts family-run farms at risk of earning a living.
The planned law also stipulates that any herbicide or pesticide that can potentially harm pollinators such as bees will be banned. (In an effort to curb light pollution, the legislation also bans the installation of certain lighting installations.)
However, before the proposed glyphosate ban is implemented, Reuters reports that both Germany’s lower and upper houses of parliament (the Bundestag) needs to pass the draft. Legislation in Germany is typically first drafted by the Federal Government. Then, the legislation needs to be passed by the Bundestag, the German parliament before it is signed into law. This legislative process involves 16 regional governments in Germany, and is likely to take several months.
Germany is home to Bayer AG, the pharmaceutical giant that acquired Roundup, the world’s best-selling glyphosate-based herbicide. Bayer acquired Roundup when the company completed its purchase of the Monsanto Corporation in 2018 for $63 billion. In taking over Monsanto, Bayer inherited an eventual 125,000 Roundup cancer claims.
Plaintiffs that have sued Monsanto/Bayer allege that Roundup caused them to develop rare cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Bayer has settled approximately 90,000 of existing Roundup claims for nearly $11 billion. An additional $2 billion settlement proposal to address future Roundup claims is currently being reviewed by a U.S. District Court Judge overseeing thousands of federal Roundup cases.
On January 1 of this year, Luxembourg, which borders Germany’s central-western flank, recently became the first European country to completely ban glyphosate.