Step 2 Part 2 - character card 10: Werner Baumann

Werner Baumann

In 2018, Baumann, CEO of German company Bayer, lead the acquisition of Monsanto - an American agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation. Monsanto is the major producer of genetically engineered crops and one of the largest US corporations by revenues. The soybean, a key ingredient for feeding the world’s cattle, pigs, chickens and fish, is modified to make it more resistant to insects and pests, and also more resistant to the herbicide glyphosate.

In 2019, the European Court of Justice dismissed an action brought by three German NGO’s against the authorisation of genetically modified soy products. The NGO’s argued that more research was necessary to determine the product's risks. In agreement with the NGO’s, many environmental scientists say that it is possibly dangerous for people’s health, for example by triggering allergic reactions (as they may contain genes from an allergen that it is not well studied), contributing to the development of cancer (as it can be dangerous to introduce new genes into the body) or that these crops could affect the ability of people to defend against illness by becoming resistant to antibiotics.

The resolution allowed Monsanto to continue selling genetically modified soybeans developed in South America (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay).

The company argues that they provide solutions for a growing population. In its opinion, farms can slow the effects of climate change, as their crops require less water. These farms are more sustainable, with plants that are more adaptive and resilient and agriculture increases economic prosperity for all families and their communities.