Bayer/Monsanto Lose Glyphosate Case
Bayer and Monsanto have lost their first legal case as a merged company. A jury in the US state of California ordered the former US agribusiness market leader, since June part of the German agrochemicals and pharmaceutical group, to pay $289 million in damages to a 46-year-old school groundskeeper who was diagnosed in 2014 with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The jury upheld allegations by the plaintiff, DeWayne, Johnson, that Monsanto knew about the risks associated with the herbicide ingredient glyphosate but failed to warn buyers or users. It said Monsanto acted with "malice," and its weed killers contributed "substantially" to the groundskeeper’s terminal illness.
According to Johnson’s lawyers, he regularly used both the US company’s top-selling herbicide Roundup and its generic version, RangerPro, while working at a school in Benicia. Both have glyphosate as the active ingredient.
As Monsanto’s now-largest shareholder, Bayer will be liable for any litigation, even though the two are still operating separately until US authorities put their final seal of approval on the sale of certain activities to BASF. This is expected to come during August.
Estimates vary as to the number of glyphosate cases pending in US courts and range from “at least 4,000” to “as many as 5,000,” according to the source
Bayer said it is “confident, based on the strength of the science, the conclusions of regulators around the world and decades of experience, that glyphosate is safe for use and does not cause cancer when used according to the label."
During the trial, experts squared off on the possible hazards associated with the chemical. Christopher Portier, an environmental health expert currently serving on the board of several US scientific institutions, charged that safety studies by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – both of which concluded that glyphosate is not a carcinogen – were flawed.
Portier advised the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the WHO sub-group that declared glyphosate to be a probable human carcinogen. He claims that EFSA failed to follow its own guidelines for animal tests, which state that if two positive animal tests are observed, the chemical in question must be classified as a possible carcinogen.
Monsanto’s lawyer, Kirby Griffis contended, however, that tests involving mouse and rat tumors found could well have been “false-positives.” In a statement, Monsanto said the court decision “does not change the fact that more than 800 scientific studies and reviews support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer.”