Bayer Now Faces Roundup Issues at Home

(Bloomberg) -- Germany’s Environment Ministry laid out a plan Tuesday for a step-by-step retreat from glyphosate, the weedkiller that has been a thorn in Bayer AG’s side since its $63 billion acquisition of Monsanto Co.

The plan calls for a ban on the chemical, the active ingredient in Bayer’s Roundup herbicide, in areas that are environmentally sensitive or important for groundwater. The new rules would also make it tougher for farmers to use similar chemicals that kill a broad range of plants and insects, requiring them to reserve acreage for pesticide-free planting as well.

“There’s nothing gained for the environment if instead of glyphosate other, perhaps even more damaging pesticides are used,” Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said in a statement. She called for using “every kind of legal leverage” to abandon glyphosate.

Schulze’s effort to lead a long-term retreat from Roundup comes after a tussle within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition over the chemical last year. Defying objections from center-left Social Democrats, Merkel’s agriculture minister unilaterally voted to keep the weedkiller on the market in the European Union until 2022. That makes it tough to ban the chemical outright at home.