The Bayer AG company is often seen in a positive light because so many people have relied on its aspirins and drugs for years, but few people know the true history.
The Germany chemical and drug giant was once a part of IG Farben, which played a key role in giving tools to the Nazis to commit some of the most egregious war crimes in history.
Now Bayer is the new owner of Monsanto, a company that shareholders feared could drag its reputation (and bottom line) down into the mud even further.
And judging by the events of recent days, that seems to be the exact scenario that is playing out as Bayer’s merger with Monsanto has lost a significant amount of value already.
Monsanto Loses Landmark Cancer Trial in Federal Court
If you haven’t heard by now, you’re missing out on one of the biggest stories for the health of the planet and people in decades: 61-year-old Dewayne Johnson recently won a $289 million verdict against Monsanto in federal court, after it was determined that the company acted with “malice and oppression” toward the former school groundskeeper, who now may have only months to live according to doctors.
For its part Monsanto, which is now under the Bayer Cropscience umbrella, has insisted that Roundup is safe. But the Johnson trial is just the beginning in a miles-long line of lawsuits that includes over 4,000 plaintiffs, who are all expected to have their day in court in the coming months.
The monumental costs of this legal war could come close to sinking both companies, when it’s all said and done, or perhaps just their reputations at the very least.
Bayer AG Shares Tumble to Lowest Levels in Nearly Seven Years
Now that the cat is out of the bag and people are starting to realize that Bayer is the owner of one of the oft-voted “Most Evil Companies in the World,” its bottom line has taken an unprecedented hit.
Bayer AG’s share prices have tumbled to their lowest levels in nearly seven years, in large part due to concerns of the potential costs of a protracted legal battle over Roundup, according to a new report in Bloomberg.
The official drop was recorded at 14 percent as investors recalled another major Bayer legal disaster in which the company was forced to pay $1.1 billion to settle lawsuits surrounding the heart drug Lipobay in 2005.
Now all of a sudden, what looked so promising for the two companies is anything but, as a whopping $14 billion was knocked off the German agrochemical and drug maker’s market value on Monday, about 20 percent of the total value of the entire Monsanto acquisition.
If any more rulings go against the new Bayer/Monsanto machine, the costs could be “ruinous,” according to investment management company Sanford C. Bernstein analysts, the article said.
The Future of the Monsanto/Bayer Merger
While the Johnson case is a major setback for the new Monsanto/Bayer merger, the coast is far from clear for activists seeking to mitigate the companies’ impacts on the environment and human health.
The new company is expected to own as much as a quarter or more of the world’s seeds and pesticides market, which has many decrying it as a monopoly in the world agriculture sector.
Monsanto has also invested $125 million in new “longer-lasting” GMO crops using the CRISPR technology, which will be unlabeled and not independently tested as usual (even though preliminary studies have also linked the new technology to cancer).
Bayer and Monsanto are expected to begin integration next month — all while the specter of the Johnson trial and thousands of other alleged cancer victims’s lawsuits looms large.
It’s not the way Bayer envisioned things going when they purchased the St. Louis-based company, but those are the risks of doing business when you’re a chemical conglomerate known for creating some of the world’s most toxic products.
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