On March 19, a U.S. jury ruled Bayer’s Roundup weed killer caused cancer, according to an article in Reuters.
The German company, with U.S. headquarters in Whippany, New Jersey, lost the first phase of a jury trial in San Francisco in the case of Hardeman v Monsanto. Plaintiff Edwin Hardeman sprayed the herbicide on his property for decades and says it caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria split the Hardeman case into two phases: one to decide causation, and the other to determine Bayer’s potential liability and damages. While the jury’s decision in the first trial phase was unanimous, liability and damages have yet to be decided in a second trial phase that began March 20.
Bayer acquired Monsanto, St. Louis, the maker of Roundup, for $63 billion last June. Roundup was the first glyphosate-based weed killer but is no longer patent-protected and many other versions are now available. According to an article in Bloomberg, the company’s share price has dropped almost 30 percent since the acquisition.
Bayer, which denies allegations that the glyphosate-based weed killer causes cancer, said in a statement it was disappointed with the jury’s initial decision. “We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto’s conduct has been appropriate, and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman’s cancer,” the company said.
The case was only the second of approximately 11,200 Roundup lawsuits to go to trial in the U.S. Another California man was awarded $289 million in August 2018 after a state court jury found Roundup caused his cancer. That award was later reduced to $78 million and is on appeal.
According to the Reuters article, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the European Chemicals Agency and other regulators have found that glyphosate is not likely carcinogenic to humans. But the World Health Organization’s cancer arm in 2015 reached a different conclusion, classifying glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”