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Bayer agrees to pay for lawsuits, where is Kenya?

BUSINESS
By Jeckonia Otieno | June 26th 2020

Pharmaceutical and chemical multinational Bayer has said it is paying USD10 billion (Sh1 trillion) to settle over 95,000 lawsuits related to its products’ harmfulness.

At least 42,000 people, mostly from the US, have filed lawsuits against Bayer’s Roundup weed killers, claiming it damaged their health.

As the US cases unfold, focus now turns to inert substances found in these products, some of which have come under sharp criticism over concerns that they could have some cancer-causing agents.

The Kenyan authorities have, however, insisted that glyphosate found in the company’s weed killer is safe and has gone through all the quality checks to ensure consumer safety.

Route To Food organisation is, however, against the increasing use of the pesticide and takes issue with the fact that in just four years (2015-2018), its use grew by 144 per cent in the country.

The organisation states, “In Kenya, there is no data available concerning the use of pesticides or the concentrations of pesticides in water, soil and food and the related impacts. Most of the research focuses on persistent organic pollutants.”

It concludes: “Kenyan consumers and farmers are not aware of the extent of pesticide use, their concentrations in food and environment and their possible effects on the environment and ecosystem services.”

Bayer East Africa’s corporate communications manager Antony Maina said the jury is a public trial which “could be swayed by emotions rather than by reasoned judgement”.

“This product has been in use for over 30 years,” he added.

In September, Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Shollei filed a petition in Parliament calling for the withdrawal from the market of 262 pesticides and herbicides that she said have been found to be harmful.

As the US cases unfold focus now turns to inert substances found in these products, some of which have come under sharp criticism over concerns that they could have some cancer-causing agents. Earlier this year, research by scientists in France nailed Roundup manufactured by Bayer after a study found that inertial ingredients in the herbicide could cause health defects.

The study singled out polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA), yet to be fully studied, suggesting it posed a threat to foetal development and could result in low-birth-weight.

 

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