The German pharmaceutical giant Bayer bought Monsanto for over 60 billion dollars in June 2018. Bayer thereby became the owner of Monsanto seeds and herbicides. Monsanto's strong product concept has been to genetically modify seeds for crops such as corn, soy, rapeseed and cotton to be resistant to their best-selling herbicides with the active ingredient glyphosate. Glyphosate herbicides could be used at relatively high concentrations against all weeds in the fields with glyphosate-resistant seeds and crops. In contrast, the extensive use of glyphosate led to the establishment of glyphosate-resistant weeds in many places. This reduced the profitability of herbicides with glyphosate, which have become cheaper.
Bayer has had its own herbicide products before. These have glufosinate ammonium as an active agent against plants. Like glyphosate, glufosinate works by stopping all activity of an essential enzyme in plant cells. Higher concentrations of glufosinate that are lethal to plants can be used where the crops have been genetically modified to be resistant to glufosinate herbicides. These genetically modified plants have inserted a gene from a bacterium that can make a variant of the glutamine synthase enzyme for the plants that cannot be deactivated by low concentrations of glufosinate-ammonium. Genetically modified seeds have also been developed for crops with resistance to both the glyphosate and glufosinate herbicides.
Lack of herbicide resistance can also harm genetically modified crops. There are genetically modified soya in which genes from bacteria have been inserted for resistance to glyphosate, glufosinate and 2,4-D. Still, these are vulnerable to another herbicide from Monsanto; Dicamba. This herbicide is notorious for evaporating in summer heat and drifting into nearby areas where it can damage other crops. Soybeans are very sensitive to dicamba and the leaves will curl up and the plants will die if they receive pesticide applications with dicamba from other crops sprayed with dicamba. Bayer has bought Monsanto, but with it also many of Monsanto's problems.
Monsanto glyphosate products named Roundup for use on Roundup Ready crops have sold enormously. Monsanto seeds have been patent protected, but the last patent on glyphosate expired in 2000. There are now many other glyphosate producers mainly in China. This reduces the profitability of the glyphosate market. Investments have been in a production plant for dicamba. Seeds have been produced with both glyphosate and dicamba resistance. This is to extend the use of the dizzying pesticide glyphosate. The problem is that dicamba destroys the economy of the many people who have had their crops damaged by moving clouds of dicamba herbicide.
Monsanto has also protected its glyphosate products by going against research that has revealed the many harmful effects of glyphosate. There is science that can prove that consuming glyphosate can promote the building of tumors. This research was strongly criticized and opposed by those who make heaps from the sale of glyphosate. New research shows that the accepted concentrations with consumption of glyphosate can harm the offspring of experimental animals. This happens because glyphosate concentrations in breast milk can change the intestinal flora and give way to pathogens. Bioaccumulation of glyphosate could occur over time and contribute to this disease picture. Glyphosate reduces the protective effect of the gut microbiota against opportunistic pathogens.
Mao Q., Manservisi F., Panzacchi S., Mandrioli D., Menghetti I., Vornoli A., Bua L., Falcioni L., Lesseur C., Chen J., Belpoggi F. and J. Hu. 2018. The Ramazzini Institute 13-week pilot study on glyphosate and Roundup administered at human-equivalent dose to Sprague Dawley rats: effects on the microbiome. Environmental Health. 17:50.