Lawsuits centered around Bayer’s weed-killer Roundup® have surged over the last 3 months in the wake of a landmark verdict that saw a terminal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patient receive $289 Million; the victim’s case alleged Roundup was the cause of his cancer. The jury unanimously agreed.
The verdict has since been reduced to $78 Million, but the California Superior Court Judge, Suzanne Bolanos, confirmed the jury’s verdict, opting not to reverse their decision. Bayer completed their $63 Billion acquisition of the agriculture giant Monsanto this year, and, as a consequence, inherited the thousands of Roundup lawsuits it faced. These lawsuits allege that the key ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is a carcinogenic substance that led Roundup users to develop cancer.
In mid-August, it was reported that 8,700 Roundup-related lawsuits were awaiting trial. Since then, however, that number has swollen to 9,300 – a 7 percent spike in a mere 90 days.
Bayer Claims Product Is Safe, but Mounting Lawsuits Beg to Differ
Unsettling to many is the fact that, in spite of the already enormous – and still growing – number of Roundup lawsuits, Bayer still stands by the safeness of their product. Bayer CEO Baumann said,
“We continue to believe that we have meritorious defenses and intend to defend ourselves vigorously in all of these lawsuits…. Glyphosate is an indispensable chemical for modern agriculture that is safe to use, very effective and saves resources. When used appropriately, glyphosate is a completely safe and good product…. completely safe.”
Baumann did state, however, that in spite of the company’s confidence in their product’s safeness, “more lawsuits are to be expected.”
Baumann, Bayer, and Monsanto may stand by the efficacy and safety of their glyphosate-containing products, but the fact of the matter remains its classification by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a “probable carcinogen” to humans. Used in large quantities by agricultural workers and groundskeepers, among others, the constant exposure to the carcinogen seems an obvious chemical health hazard.
Bayer Considers Settlement with Its Eyes Only on Profit
As reported recently, Bayer would consider settling all Roundup lawsuits, so long as settling proves more economical than fighting each suit individually. The Pharma company has used this tactic before with other large liability claims, such as settling all of its contraceptive-device Mirena lawsuits with an “inexpensive” $12 Million.
As for our neighbors to the north, tension is growing over the health studies submitted to Health Canada for approval of Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate in 2015. Advocates, including the group Canadian Physicians for the Environment, claim that a majority of the papers used to confirm glyphosate’s safeness were influenced or even sponsored outright by Monsanto. If true, such a claim would demonstrate the lengths to which a greedy company will go in order to rake in a profit at the expense of public health.
Still, the fact remains that 9,300 Roundup lawsuits await trial in the U.S.; that’s 9,300 Americans who have allegedly been injured by or developed cancer from the country’s best-selling weed killer. The 600-lawsuit increase demonstrates the difficult situation Bayer now faces amidst tumbling stock prices (that have decreased by as much as 18 percent) and new investor concerns that the acquisition of Monsanto has led to a costly liability that could ultimately bleed the company by billions.