From the Guardian 24th June 2020
Numerous lawsuits have been brought against the pharmaceutical subsidiary over claims the chemical causes cancer
Bayer has reached a $10.9bn settlement over Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
German pharmaceutical company Bayer says it’s paying up to $10.9bn to settle a lawsuit over subsidiary Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup, which has faced numerous lawsuits over claims it causes cancer.
Bayer said it was also paying up $1.22bn to settle two further cases, one involving polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) in water.
Bayer said the Roundup settlement would “bring closure to approximately 75%” of the current 125,000 filed and unfiled claims. The resolution also puts in place a mechanism to resolve potential future claims, the company said.
“First and foremost, the Roundup settlement is the right action at the right time for Bayer to bring a long period of uncertainty to an end,” said Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer, in a statement on Wednesday.
Bayer said the agreement is subject to approval by judge Vince Chhabria of the US district court for the northern district of California.
Three Roundup cases that have gone to trial in recent years are not covered by the settlement and will continue through the appeals process, Bayer said.
A California jury ordered Monsanto in May 2019 to pay more than $2bn to Alva and Alberta Pilliod, a couple that got cancer after using Roundup.
The victory for the Pilliods was the latest in a series of trial wins taking on Monsanto over Roundup. Dewayne Johnson, a former school groundskeeper with terminal cancer, won a $289m victory in a California court in 2018, and Edwin Hardeman, who sprayed Roundup on his properties, was awarded $80m in the first federal trial in 2019.
Bayer has appealed all three rulings.
Bayer said it would also pay up to $400m to settle cases involving the weedkiller dicamba having drifted onto plants that weren’t bred to resist it, killing them.
A further payment of up to $820m will be made to settle “most” claims for exposure to PCB, a highly carcinogenic substance, that Monsanto produced until 1977 and which has been found in US waters.
Bayer said it would start making payments this year and these would be financed from existing liquidity, future income, proceeds from the sale of its animal health business and the issuance of additional bonds.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled last year that it was false to say glyphosate, the herbicide marketed as Roundup, caused cancer, and recently issued a report concluding the product did not cause risks to human health when used correctly. Advocates have long criticized the EPA’s continued approval of Roundup in the face of research linking the herbicide to cancer.
“Even Bayer’s billions can’t magically make glyphosate’s well-documented links to cancer disappear,” Nathan Donley, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement. “Bayer only settled after three multi-million-dollar verdicts over the past year from jurors who, unlike the EPA, wisely put more trust in the safety assessments of independent scientists than in Monsanto/Bayer’s confidential reviews of its own product.”