Roundup cancer case: Monsanto ordered to pay US man $80 million

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.

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.

Business | 21.03.2019

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.

Yummy, yummy glyphosate!

Ice cream

Glyphosate has been found in Ben & Jerry's ice cream samples from Europe, according to the Health Research Institute. The attested quantities could be a health risk, says the US-based Organic Consumers Association. Ben&Jerry's insists the levels of glyphosate detected "were significantly below all allowable US and European standards."

Yummy, yummy glyphosate!

Grains

When glyphosate is used to kill weeds on fields of wheat, barley or rye, it can find its way into bread, buns, cakes, cookies or any other baked goods. That's how the herbicide ends up in your Ben & Jerry's cookie dough ice cream.

Yummy, yummy glyphosate!

Breakfast cereals

Take cornflakes and muesli. Yes, these are made from field crops that are also sprayed with a glyphosate-based weed killer like Roundup. A 2018 Environmental Working Group report titled "Breakfast With a Dose of Roundup?" noted that all but two of 45 products tested had oats with traces of glyphosate, but that 31 of these showed alarming levels exceeding its own child safety standards.

Yummy, yummy glyphosate!

Water

Glyphosate is also in our water. In the water? Indeed, even there! When the weed killer is used on cultivated fields, after it rains, glyphosate seeps into the groundwater, rivers and lakes. And this way, it turns up not only in our food, but also in beverages ...

Yummy, yummy glyphosate!

Beer

... like the world's most popular chillaxing drink — beer. Several studies have shown small amounts of glyphosate in the beverage made from grains and water — although the more dangerous thing about beer may still be the alcohol content.

Yummy, yummy glyphosate!

Honey

And whoever, at the end of this list, believes it's okay to smear some honey on what is hopefully a glyphosate-free organic roll, is likely to be unhappy. Flowers that attract bees, and that grow near fields sprayed with glyphosate, are likewise affected, and could turn your sweet hopes into something fairly bitter.

"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.

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Business | 07.03.2019

Glyphosate - Friend or Foe?

cw/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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