Bayer vows to fight 8,000 glyphosate lawsuits
The German agribusiness giant has officially taken over Monsanto and its Roundup family of herbicides, including associated legal claims of cancer liability.

Bayer, the new owner of Monsanto and its flagship Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides, has acknowledged 8,000 litigations against the products in the US and said it will continue to defend them.

On 10 August, a jury in San Francisco awarded €255m against Monsanto ($39m in compensation and $250m in punitive damages) after groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson claimed that glyphosate-based herbicides had caused him to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of cancer.

"Glyphosate was not the cause. A verdict by one jury in one case does not change the scientific facts and the conclusion of regulators that glyphosate does not cause cancer," Bayer chief executive Werner Baumann said in a conference call with financial analysts on Thursday.

He added that 8,000 legal cases were pending before state and federal courts in the US as of the end of July. The next trial will start in October in Missouri.

We want to make sure that glyphosate will continue to be available

"We will vigorously defend this case and also the cases that are up and coming," Baumann said. "We want to make sure that glyphosate will continue to be available."

In the Johnson v Monsanto case, the manufacturer's legal team will first file a motion with the court's judge to overturn the jury verdict, and is prepared to appeal to a higher court if this fails, Baumann said.

Brazil case

He also gave an update on a case in Brazil, where a court ordered the regulatory agency to remove glyphosate's licence within 30 days of a 3 August decision because of non-compliance with approval procedures. Baumann said Brazil's attorney general had applied to overturned the injunction on Wednesday.

He was speaking as Bayer officially took control of Monsanto on Tuesday after clearing regulatory obligations in the US.

"We are now the leading ag company in the world," Baumann said.

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Russian beef giant moves into lamb industry
The first batch of lambs have been slaughtered at the Miratorg factory in Bryansk, Oblast, Russia.

Beef giant, Miratorg, has processed its first 4,000t of lamb as part of its venture into the sheep industry.

The sheep were reared on a pilot farm with the capacity for 50,000 head, Global Meat News reports.

Miratorg is run by the Linnikov brothers who are Russia’s biggest farmers. They started out in the pig and poultry industries, only forming the fully integrated beef operation in 2006.

Most of Miratorg’s beef operations are centred around Bryansk, which is 550km southwest of Moscow.

The new venture into lamb was announced in October 2018. The company plans to invest €368m in the project by 2023, keep 1.3m sheep across 12 farms and produce 71,200t of sheepmeat per year.

Most of Miratorg’s beef operations are centred around Bryansk, which is 550km southwest of Moscow

“We evidenced a strong demand among consumers for this type of product and, in future, plan to open several other sheep breeding farms in the black earth region,” said Miratorg president Viktor Linnik.

“The expansion of the pilot project would increase both the economic and physical availability of this type of meat for Russian consumers, and would improve the export potential of Russia’s meat industry.”

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BSE case identified in Poland
Polish authorities have notified an atypical case of BSE in the west of the country.

The first case of BSE in Poland since 2013 was found in an herd of 50 cattle at the end of January in Mirsk near the Czech border, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has revealed.

According to the report filed by Poland's ministry of agriculture, a suspected case detected in an animal on 24 January was confirmed one week later by the National Veterinary Research Institute.

The animal was killed and disposed of. As with most atypical cases, the cause of infection was unknown.

Negligible risk status

"This event does not have any influence on official BSE risk status recognition of Poland," the OIE commented.

"For the purposes of official BSE risk status recognition, BSE excludes 'atypical BSE' as a condition believed to occur spontaneously in all cattle populations at a very low rate."

Poland enjoys negligible BSE risk status, the lowest risk level under OIE rules. Ireland has controlled risk status.

Leading beef exporter

Poland is one of the EU's leading beef exporters, largely from its dairy herd. In the crucial UK market, Polish beef is the third largest volume supplier with nearly 16,000t shipped over the first 11 months of last year, behind the Netherlands (18,000t) and Ireland (190,000t).

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Fonterra's John Wilson dies
The former chair of New Zealand's largest dairy co-op has passed away.

One of the world's most prominent dairy farmers, New Zealander John Wilson, died this Monday aged 54.

He was chair of Fonterra, the largest global dairy exporter, from 2012 until his resignation over poor health last July.

From his farm in the Waikato region and a second dairy business he co-owned in South Canterbury, Wilson represented farmers at various levels in Fonterra, including during its foundation through the amalgamation of several co-ops in 2001. As chair, he oversaw expansion and international joint venture developments, followed by the crisis of the 2015-2016 global milk price crash.

Until his death, he was listed as chair of Fonterra's governance development committee, which has been working on farm succession.

'Solutions, not problems'

In a message to members, his successor as Fonterra chair John Monaghan said that Wilson was survived by his wife Belinda and four daughters.

"He always looked ahead and focused on finding a way through tough times that would protect Fonterra's farmers, share-milkers and their families," Monaghan said. "Bringing farmers solutions, not problems, was always his mindset."

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