Frankfurt am Main — Bayer CEO Werner Baumann was on the defensive at the German chemical giant’s AGM on Friday, relitigating the decision to buy US seeds and pesticides maker Monsanto before restive shareholders. About 500 protesters gathered outside the Bonn conference centre with placards mocking Bayer’s corporate motto “science for a better life” or calling to “stop glyphosate”, the Monsanto-made herbicide at the centre of the group’s woes. And supervisory board chair Werner Wenning said in his introduction that “a string of shareholders have asked if the Monsanto buyout was the right thing to do”. Some 13,400 US lawsuits relating to glyphosate and initial unfavourable judgments against Bayer “are placing a heavy burden on our company and worrying many people”, Baumann acknowledged in the first moments of his speech. Bayer’s share price fell by about 40% following its $63bn takeover of Monsanto last June. The plunge was driven by the first of two jury rulings so far that have awa...

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