Bayer is planning a major cost-cutting effort that includes selling off well-known brands, such as Dr Scholl’s foot care and Coppertone sunscreen in an effort to cut costs that includes a loss of up to 12,000 jobs. Part of the job losses is likely stemming from fall out from the thousands of legal cases about possible cancer dangers of Roundup, a popular weedkiller previously owned by Monsanto and now part of Bayer AG’s product portfolio.
The cuts will account for approximately 1/10 of workers around the world. A lot of the job cuts will occur in Germany, Bayer also is going to sell off its animal health division, which could be worth billions of dollars.
Share in the German drug giant have been falling for more than a year. Part of the reason for the plunge came after a surprise US ruling that connected glyphosate to cancer. Glyphosate is the key ingredient in Roundup and RangePro.
Bayer is under growing pressure to show that its new way of doing business makes sense as it is boosting its core pharma and agricultural businesses. The deal with Monsanto turned the company into the world’s biggest seeds and chemicals maker, with its consumer health and pharmaceutical units under the same large roof.
Among the 12,000 job cuts, many of them will cope from corporate and supporting jobs, while another third will be from the crop science division as the Monsanto aspect takes effect. Another 12.50 positions will probably be in the pharmaceutical section.
Controversial Case Could Cost Bayer AG Millions
It is unclear how much the problems with Monsanto’s weedkiller products has led to the job losses. In the California verdict in summer 2018, the company was ordered to pay $289 million in damages to Dewayne Johnson, a groundskeeper who claimed that his extensive use of weedkillers had caused his non-Hodkgins’ lymphoma.
The landmark lawsuit was the first one to go to court that alleged a glyphosate was linked to cancer. The claimant was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, and his lawyers claimed that he used RangerPro while he worked at a school in Benicia CA.
The jury in California said that Monsanto did not perform enough warnings to users to about the dangers of Roundup and RangerPro weedkillers. Johnson is one of more than 5,000 plaintiffs across the United States that are making similar claims against Baker AG and Monsanto.
What Makes Glyphosate So Hazardous?
Glyphosate was first brought onto the market by Monsanto in 1974, but the patent expired in 2000, so the chemical is sold by several manufacturers. In the United States, at least 750 products contain glyphosate.
Glyphosate works as a non-selective herbicide, meaning that it will kill almost all plants. It makes plants incapable to maker certain proteins that are essential for growth. While pure glyphosate is low in toxicitity, products usually contain other ingredients that make glyphosate get into the plants. Other ingredients in the product can make it even more toxic. Products such as Roundup that contain glyphosate can cause skin or eye irritation. People who breathe in mist containing glyphosate may feel irrigation from their throat and nose. Swalling products that contain glyphosate can lead to burns in the mouth and throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
When high doses of glyphosate are administered to lab animals, some studies have shown the chemical has the potential to be a carcinogen. Studies on cancer rates in people have shown conflicting results on whether the use of products with glyphosate may cause cancer, such as non-Hodgin lymphoma.
- IARC Monographs Volume 112: Evaluation of Five Organophosphate Insecticides and Herbicides, March 20, 2015, 150 Cours Albert Thomas 69372, Lyon DECEX 08, Franc. Retrieved from https://www.iarc.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/MonographVolume112-1.pdf
- Monsanto Weedkiller Case: Bayer Shares Tumble After Payout. (Aug. 2018). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46391337
- National Pesticide Information Center. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/glyphogen.html