Following $10 billion Roundup settlement, Bayer uses climate program as front to lock in control of farmer data and sell more Roundup
by Jason Davidson, food and agriculture campaigner
On the heels of the massive $10 billion proposed lawsuit settlement for more than 95,000 people alleging Bayer’s weed-killer Roundup© caused their cancer, Bayer announced a new program, the Bayer Carbon Initiative, which would pay farmers to sequester carbon in their soil. While this may appear to be a good-faith PR move to bolster the megacorporation’s poor reputation, the Bayer Carbon Initiative is just another attempt to sell more toxic products, monetize farmer data and maintain control of our food system.
Digital agriculture can be broadly defined as the use of mass amounts of data to influence decision-making on farms. Bayer’s data arm, The Climate Corporation, runs Climate FieldView™, a one-stop-shop for digital products — from satellite imagery to farm management tools.
Products like Climate FieldView™ have been rapidly expanding in the market thanks to aggressive, anti-competitive practices. Over the past few years, small-to-medium size agriculture retailers have come to rely more and more on rebates to turn a profit. In practical terms, this means pushing specific products to hit the minimum levels of sales dictated by the company offering the rebate. CropLife Magazine reported that retailers were having so much trouble reaching the minimum sales figures for Climate FieldView™ that they resorted to giving it away for free. Thanks to Bayer’s rebates, retailers were practically throwing the paid version of the platform at farmers. Now, Bayer is collecting enormous amounts of data on over 120 million acresof farmland, raising privacy and competition concerns.
One of the largest questions surrounding digital agriculture has been how to make it profitable. Bayer seems to think leveraging the climate crisis is the answer.
To participate in the Bayer Carbon Initiative, farmers must enroll in the company’s main digital agriculture platform, Climate FieldView™, and implement certain practices — dictated by Bayer — to receive compensation. From there, Bayer claims that Climate FieldView™ can not only provide guidance…