Last last year, Mexico’s Agriculture Department proposed rules for phasing out, by 2024, the controversial weed-killing chemical compound, glyphosate, and banning genetically-modified corn.
But late last month, according to Reuters.com, glyphosate proponents, including Roundup Weed and Grass Killer owner Bayer, scored a temporary legal victory when a Mexican judge ruled that the inability to use glyphosate risks negatively “affecting agricultural production and as a result, food security and sovereignty” that could force Mexico to import more corn.
Glyphosate is the main active ingredient in Roundup, which was developed by Monsanto Corp. Bayer acquired the Roundup brand when it purchased Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion.
The proposed glyphosate ban was initially announced by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who described the chemical as toxic. Germany, along with many other governments, have introduced legislation that seeks to limit its use.
Thus far, only one organization has deemed glyphosate potentially harmful to human health: the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.
However, over 125,000 people have filed suit against Bayer/Monsanto. Plaintiffs, mostly farmworkers, landscapers and gardeners, allege that applying the herbicide caused them to develop a particular type of cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
After losing the first three cases that have gone to trial, Bayer, in June 2020 announced that it would settle approximately 90% of the Roundup cancer claims filed against it for about $10 billion. More recently, Bayer devised a plan to settle future Roundup litigation for an additional $2 billion. Over 40,000 claims remain unresolved and dozens of plaintiffs and their attorneys are opposed to the settlement plan.
In response to the Mexican judge’s ruling, a spokesperson from Bayer released a statement, referencing its four decades of commercial and agricultural use in Mexico, saying “Glyphosate is safe and hundreds of scientific studies support that.”
Update: On May 7, Reuters.com reported a Mexican court has reversed the temporary reprieve granted to Bayer by the judge in Mexico. Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources issued a statement that said that the Collegiate Court, in a decision dated May 3, had “revoked” the provisional suspension.