BAYER has made the decision to remove its glyphosate products from domestic use in the United States.
While standing by the safety record of the products, which it maintains are safe to use, the company is conscious of the large legal burden created by lawsuits alleging its products have caused cancer.
"The decision to replace glyphosate-based products in the U.S. residential lawn and garden market with new formulations that rely on alternative active ingredients beginning in 2023 has been taken exclusively to manage litigation risk in the U.S. legal system and not because of any safety concerns and it has no implications for other markets," a Bayer spokesperson said.
The spokesperson clarified it had no implications in Australia or to agricultural use generally.
"This announcement is specific to residential lawn and garden products in the United States and does not impact residential lawn and garden products in Australia," they said.
Glyphosate is by far the most important agricultural herbicide in the Australian market.
There was no US government requirement for Bayer to make its decision.
Last year, Bayer announced multiple massive settlements regarding glyphosate, paying out more than AU$14.9 billion in legal costs.
Environmental groups are celebrating the news, saying it marks a big win in their bid to have glyphosate products overall phased out.
However, CropLife Australia chief executive Matthew Cossey said it was disappointing Bayer had been forced into this commercial decision in spite of scientific evidence to the contrary.
"The scientific evidence supporting glyphosate's safety is clear, overwhelming and voluminous, covering more than 40 years of significant use around the world," he said.
"Independent, evidenced-based approvals of appropriate weed killers will remain registered and available to farmers, environmental land managers and home gardeners."
He urged Australian regulators to continue to focus on the science.
"Ministers and public policy leaders must continue to defer to the independent experts - the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for decisions regarding agricultural chemicals," he said.
"Decisions of Californian juries cannot trump science and evidence."
Brett Hosking, GrainGrowers chairman, said while the decision was up to Bayer he hoped it would not be something that happened in Australia.
"I tend to think if it has legal permission to be used you should be able to buy the product," Mr Hosking said.
"I don't think we need to send a signal there is something wrong when there isn't."
However, Matt Landos, an aquatic veterinarian and a strong critic of glyphosate, said public confidence in the product was waning.
"These articles (about garden glyphosate products being phased out) do little to instill public confidence in the safety of the product, nor in the robustness of the regulatory framework (pre-independent review)," Dr Landos said.
"The weight of evidence continues to grow that glyphosate-based herbicide (GBH) is unsafe and that regulation settings are insufficient to detect the problems- and in so doing, challenges the oft touted history of GBH studies and regulatory risk assessments showing it to be safe," he said.
Meanwhile, Bayer has lost a third appeal against US court findings that awarded damages to glyphosate users.
A California appeals court late on Monday upheld an $A117 million verdict that found Bayer responsible for a couple's cancer after using Roundup against weeds.
Bayer in February 2020 filed an appeal, saying the verdict could not be reconciled with sound science or with product clearance from the federal environment regulator.
The Bayer spokesperson said the company disagreed and would assess its options.
"We respectfully disagree with the court's ruling as the verdict is not supported by the evidence at trial or the law," the spokesperson said.
"We continue to stand strongly behind the safety of Roundup, a position supported by four decades of extensive science and the assessments of leading health regulators worldwide that support its safe use," they said.
The story Bayer to phase out domestic glyphosate products in the US first appeared on Farm Online.