Bayer Wins Fourth Roundup Appeal as EPA Zooms in

21.06.2022 - Bayer has won its fourth consecutive appeal of a US court case previously decided in favor of a plaintiff who claimed that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The circuit court of Jackson County, Oregon, agreed with Bayer that Roundup does not cause cancer. The Oregon victory followed a decision earlier in June, when a Missouri court ruled in favor of Bayer.

In both cases, the German group saw its stance that Roundup is not a carcinogen vindicated. The decisions were "consistent with the assessments of expert regulators worldwide as well as the overwhelming evidence from four decades of scientific studies concluding that Roundup can be used safely,” it said. "We continue to stand behind the safety of Roundup and will confidently defend the safety of our product as well as our good faith actions in any future litigation."

Despite the encouraging outcome of the cases tried this year, Bayer cannot rest assured that it will eventually prevail. For one thing, the verdict and the damage awards in the major California cases do not look threatened at present. The group is still waiting to see whether the US Supreme Court will hear its petition to overturn the verdict in favor of Edward Hardeman, who charges that Roundup caused his cancer.

The highest US court had been expected to hear the Bayer challenge last week, but without explanation took it off the docket. The administration of US president Joe Biden has asked that the petition not be considered.

Meanwhile, the question of whether or not glyphosate is a  carcinogen continues to be heatedly debated in the main markets where it is sold. With no cases pending in Europe, the health and regulatory agencies’ unclear positions on the issue will not make  much difference to Bayer in the short term if a decision on renewing glyphosate’s reapproval is postponed to 2023 as expected.

Trouble could be looming on the US regulatory front, however. Last week, the ninth US circuit court of appeals based in Pasadena, California, ordered the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take another look at whether glyphosate causes cancer and threatens endangered species, giving it a deadline of Oct. 1 this year.

Litigation in this case has been ongoing since the EPA—in one of the final acts of the outgoing administration of president Donald Trump—in January 2020 reauthorized the use of glyphosate.

US advocacy groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Food Safety the farmers’ Rural Coalition and the Pesticides Action Network accused the agency of rubber-stamping glyphosate, despite its alleged hazards to agriculture, farmers exposed during spraying and wildlife such as the Monarch butterfly.

In its decision, the Pasadena court said the EPA did not properly justify its findings that glyphosate does not threaten human health and is unlikely to be carcinogenic to humans, In part, it  criticized the agency’s approval process, saying in particular that it had ignored the opinions of its own advisory panel.

While the EPA said only that it will review the California decision, Bayer said it believes agency will continue to conclude that glyphosate-based herbicides are safe and are not carcinogenic. Not all observers are convinced that this confidence is justified.

Even before the decision, Michael Regan, the EPA administrator appointed by Biden, took steps to unravel some of the decisions of Trump-appointee Andrew Wheeler, as well as giving states more power to restrict pipelines crossing their territory as well as regulating PFAS and addressing the issue of compensating Louisiana residents downstream of the massive Gulf Coast chemical complexes.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist


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