AGRI-CHEMICAL manufacturer Bayer has announced that it is to remove glyphosate-based herbicides from the United States lawn and garden market as of 2023.

The company, which acquired the popular Round-Up weedkiller brand as part of its takeover of Monsanto, has since had to cope with costly litigation over its safety, with US courts finding in favour of gardeners who claimed that exposure to the chemical had caused them to develop a form of cancer, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

With Bayer's bill to settle those claims now running into billions of dollars, the company – which has nonetheless continued to defend glyphosate's safety – has announced that it will replace its glyphosate-based products in the US residential market with new formulations that rely on alternative active ingredients.

“As the vast majority of claims in the litigation come from lawn and garden market users, this action largely eliminates the primary source of future claims beyond an assumed latency period," said Bayer. "There will be no change in the availability of the company’s glyphosate formulations in the US professional and agricultural markets.

“Moreover, the company will engage in discussions with EPA about Roundup labels with the goal of providing more information to users about the science as an additional element towards ensuring even more informed purchasing and application decisions,” Bayer concluded.

But with the US legal system now awash with case law precedent enabling sufferers of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma to trace their illness back to exposure to Roundup, Bayer has had to set aside $4.5billion to meet the cost of the backlog of cases yet to arise, on top of the $10.9billion already paid out. Meanwhile, a new ecosystem of campaigners and companies testing for glyphosate residues, or certifying products glyphosate-free, has sprung up to generate income from the absence of the chemical.

Speaking from the Detox Project, director Henry Rowlands, welcomed Bayer’s announcement: “It is a great victory in a small battle for the removal of glyphosate from the lawn and garden market, however this is just part of a much larger war. We must all remember that this will not stop glyphosate being sprayed in parks, schools and on our food crops in ever greater amounts across the US and the world.

"It is time to phase the chemical out globally and to replace it with safe alternatives.”