Daily News Archive
Bayer Drops Court
Case And Forced to Reveal Ingredients
(Beyond Pesticides, July 2, 2004) Bayer CropScience, the multi-national agro-chemical and biotech corporation, has dropped its court action against Friends of the Earth. Bayer had tried to prevent the environmental group from telling the public how to access safety data on pesticides - including a flagship weedkiller for use on GM herbicide tolerant crops in the UK, Glufosinate Ammonium.
Bayer started legal action when Friends of the Earth told them it had legally obtained copies of safety data from the Swedish pesticide regulator KEMI and said it was going to tell the public how they could obtain the information in the same way. The information at the center of the row is of interest to people exposed to pesticides through work, living near sprayed fields, legal representatives and academics researching the environmental and health impacts of pesticide use.
The group told Bayer it intended to use its website to tell people how to get data from regulators around the world, including Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and the USA. Bayer had previously taken the UK government to court to stop them releasing the same information to FOE. Last October, Bayer applied to the High Court for an injunction to stop Friends of the Earth from: telling people that KEMI or any other regulator held Bayer's pesticide data; telling people that Friends of the Earth had obtained copies of Bayer's pesticide data from foreign regulators; from making any more requests to KEMI or to any other foreign regulator for access to Bayer's data. Bayer has now signed up to a settlement promising never to sue Friends of the Earth again for doing these things, and in particular not to sue Friends of the Earth for telling members of the public how to access this type of data or for requesting this type of data from regulators.
This is not the first time that Bayer has had legal trouble due to their pesticide production. In April of this year, Bayer had to settle with Louisiana crawfish farmers for the use of fipronil. (See April 16, 2004 Edition of Daily News) Several hundred to 1,500 Louisiana crawfish farmers and landowners were financially harmed by the introduction of the pesticide ICON to rice farms where crawfish also were raised. ICON contains the active ingredient fipronil, which disrupts insects' central nervous system, acting with contact and stomach action. According to the U.S. EPA Chemicals Evaluated for Carcinogenic Potential, fipronil is classified as a possible human carcinogen. Local rice farmers blamed rice seed treated with the pesticide fipronil for destroying the crawfish crop and contaminating the fields. Bayer blamed drought conditions.
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