Germany pharmaceutical giant Bayer has criticised Mexico for stopping imports of glyphosate – the active ingredient in its herbicide Roundup – warning that the country’s farmers will face a major disruption in fighting weeds.

The Mexican government announced on 25 November that it was denying entry to 1,000 tonnes of glyphosate as a precaution and would keep doing so for as long as “no conclusive” scientific proof existed that the chemical was safe for people and the environment, Bloomberg reported.

Mexico became the latest in a string of countries to ban the weedkiller. Austria voted in July to ban it as of January 2020 while politicians elsewhere in Europe were considering whether to let the chemical’s authorisation expire at the end of 2022.

Meanwhile, Vietnam and Thailand were facing pressure from the chemicals industry, as well as the US government, to back down from their plans to ban glyphosate, Bloomberg said.

“Bayer respects and shares the Mexican government’s interest in protecting farmers and consumers,” the company said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the decision to ban imports of glyphosate will not help improve food safety, security or sustainability in the country.”

Bayer bought Roundup as part of its US$63bn acquisition of US agrochemicals firm Monsanto in June 2018 and insists that glyphosate is safe.

The company is currently facing more than 42,700 cancer lawsuits in the USA over Roundup.

It has agreed to postpone its next two US lawsuits scheduled in January to allow more time for settlement talks, according to a Reuters report on 6 December.