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US farmer awarded $265 million from Bayer

February 16, 2020

Bayer has been ordered to pay millions in damages to an American peach farmer who lost his crops to weedkiller. The German firm said it was "disappointed" with the verdict, insisting its products "were not responsible."

Farmer Bill Bader checks his peach crops
Farmer Bill Bader checks his peach cropsImage: Imago-Images/ZUMA Press/B. Gray

German agrochemicals giant Bayer announced on Sunday it would appeal a US jury's $265 million (€245 million) award to a Missouri farmer who said the company's dicamba herbicide had devastated his peach orchards.

Farmer Bill Bader sued Bayer and chemical producer BASF, arguing their weedkiller had drifted onto his trees from nearby farms. The jury handed him $15 million in compensation and $250 million in punitive damages.  

"We are disappointed with the jury’s verdict," Bayer said in a statement, adding that it would launch an appeal. BASF also said it would appeal. Both companies said their dicamba herbicides are safe when used as per instructions. 

"We believe the evidence presented at trial demonstrated that Monsanto's products were not responsible for the losses sought in this lawsuit and we look forward to appealing," Bayer said.

Founded in Wuppertal in western Germany in 1863, Bayer is one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

Read more: Opinion: Chemicals giant Bayer stuck in Monsanto trap

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The $265 million damages award is the first of more than 140 dicamba cases to come to trial.

The award is separate to the multi-billion-dollar litigation Bayer is trying to settle over the Roundup weedkiller made by US agrochemical firm Monsanto.

Monsanto produced both Roundup and dicamba. Bayern, which acquired Monsanto for $63 billion in 2018, is being sued over both products. BASF makes its own dicamba-based herbicide.

The US Environmental Protection Agency imposed a number of restrictions on the use of dicamba in November 2018 after concerns were raised about possible destruction of crops surrounding those it was being applied to.

Bayer’s genetically engineered soy seeds are designed to be resistant to the herbicide. 

mvb/nm (dpa, Reuters)

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