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Monsanto must pay $80 million in Roundup case

March 28, 2019

In a blow to German chemical giant Bayer, a jury has ordered subsidiary Monsanto to pay $80 million to a man who said Roundup weed killer caused his cancer. Monsanto is facing hundreds of similar complaints in the US.

Monsanto Roundup at a store in California
Image: Getty Images/AFP/J. Edelson

A US jury has awarded $80 million (€71 million) in damages to a California man who blamed Roundup weed killer for causing his cancer.

The ruling is a blow to German chemical and pharmaceutical giant Bayer, whose subsidiary Monsanto makes the herbicide. The trial could pave the way for more cases linking Roundup's main ingredient, glyphosate, to cancer.

Read more: Glyphosate: The key points in an endless debate

Safe, or 'probable human carcinogen'?

The jury in San Francisco decided earlier this month that Roundup was a "substantial factor" in the 70-year-old plaintiff Edwin Hardeman's non-Hodgkin lymphoma, finding that Roundup was defectively designed, that Monsanto failed to warn of the herbicide's cancer risk and that the company acted negligently.

Monsanto has repeatedly pointed to studies showing glyphosate is safe. But the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, classified glyphosate as a "probable human carcinogen" in 2015.

"This verdict does not change the weight of over four decades of extensive science and the conclusions of regulators worldwide that support the safety of our glyphosate-based herbicides and that they are not carcinogenic," Bayer said in a statement on Wednesday. It plans to appeal the court ruling.

Read more: Study shows glyphosate may be killing honeybees 

Monsanto facing thousands of lawsuits

Hardeman's case is seen as a bellwether trial for litigation and settlement options for more than 700 cases consolidated in San Francisco's federal court. More than 11,000 Roundup lawsuits are expected to go to trial in the United States.

Last year, a judge in San Francisco upheld a jury's verdict that found Monsanto liable for a groundkeeper's cancer. The case is under appeal after the judge slashed damages from $289 million to $78 million.

cw/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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