Bayer’s stock price was down eight percent when markets opened on Monday morning, and later fell further to around minus 11 percent, marking its lowest point since May 2016
The Leverkusen-based multinational was hit by an unprecedented decision at a San Francisco court at the weekend, in which Bayer subsidiary Monsanto lost a case against school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, and was ordered to pay $290 million in damages.
The court ruled that Monsanto had failed to warn Johnson that its glyphosate-based weed-killer Round-up could cause cancer. Johnson, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2014, wept as the ruling was read out.
Bayer’s $66 billion acquisition of Monsanto was completed only last June after both the EU and the USA approved the takeover deal.
The company disputed the court ruling at the weekend, saying that it went against scientific evidence.
“On the basis of scientific conclusions, the views of worldwide regulatory authorities and the decades-long practical experience with glyphosate use Bayer is convinced that glyphosate is safe and does not cause cancer,” the company said in a statement.
Glyphosate is a fiercely controversial topic in Germany, with many concerned about health risks.
In November last year, then agricultural minister Christian Schmidt caused embarrassment for Angela Merkel when he ignored express instructions and voted at EU level to extend the licence on the use of the chemical, in direct contravention of German government policy.