US jury orders Bayer to pay $2 billion in Roundup cancer case

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01:43 mins.
14.05.2019

Bayer to pay $2 billion in compensation

Bayer-owned Monsanto has been hit with its third jury verdict in California tying its Roundup weed killer to cancer. Bayer faces more than 13,400 Roundup-related lawsuits in the United States.

A California jury has ordered Monsanto to pay $2 billion (€1.78 billion) to a couple who claimed the agribusiness giant's Roundup weed killer caused their cancer.

Business | 14.05.2019

Monday's verdict is the third consecutive one in a California court against Monsanto, which was bought last year by German chemical company Bayer.

Read more: Bayer investors angry over plummeting share price 

Two previous jury rulings awarded $80 million to a man and $289 million to a former groundskeeper, though a judge later reduced the latter ruling to $89 million.

Nature and Environment | 25.09.2018

The state court jury in Oakland found that Alva and Alberta Pilliod's use of the weed killer for over 30 years at their home and other properties caused them to contract non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Lawyers for the couple called the $2.05 billion in punitive and compensatory damages a "historic" ruling. 

Legal experts said a judge would likely significantly lower the payout.

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.

Bayer maintains Roundup is safe

Bayer has said it would appeal the verdict. The company faces more than 13,000 lawsuits in the United States claiming that glyphosate-based weed killers pose health and environmental problems. 

In April, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reaffirmed that the active ingredient found in Roundup is safe.

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

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"The consensus among leading health regulators worldwide is that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic," Bayer said in a statement.

The company added that none of the California courts have considered the EPA's findings.

The pile of cases against Monsanto rely on assessments of California health authorities and a 2015 finding by the International Agency for Research on Cancer that the chemical probably causes cancer.

Read more: Glyphosate: EU agency must release censored study, court says

The lawsuits claim Monsanto deliberately manipulated science, regulatory agencies and the media to hide knowledge that glyphosate is carcinogenic.

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01:34 mins.
Business | 26.04.2019

Bayer shareholders angry over stock price fall

Bayer admits other 'watch lists'

The latest case in California comes as Bayer is under pressure in France after investigators there opened a probe into Monsanto for compiling "watch lists" of journalists and lawmakers to influence their positions on pesticides.

Bayer apologized over the weekend, but said the practice was not illegal. On Monday, the company said similar lists were likely drawn up in other European countries.

cw/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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