In an effort to shield itself from future litigation, the German pharmaceutical giant, Bayer AG, announced Wednesday that it will remove Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides from retail stores by 2023, Courthouse News Service reported.
The move comes after 125,000 individuals have filed Roundup cancer lawsuits since 2018. Plaintiffs who have filed claims have alleged that glyphosate, the main active ingredient in Monsanto’s branded line of Roundup weed- and grass-killing products, caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Bayer’s $63 billion acquisition of Monsanto was finalized on June 7, 2018. One month later, the first of only four Roundup cancer lawsuits that have gone to trial, began. Bayer lost the first trial in August 2018 as well as the two other trials that have concluded. The fourth trial is currently in the jury selection process.
In June 2020, Bayer announced it would settle approximately 75% of the filed lawsuits for approximately $10 billion. Nearly 30,000 lawsuits remain unresolved. In addition to losing all three trials, in which plaintiffs were each awarded multi-million-dollar judgements, Bayer’s plan to resolve Roundup lawsuits that have yet to be filed—
for an additional $2 billion—has been rejected twice by a federal judge who is overseeing a consolidation of federal Roundup cases in multidistrict litigation (MDL).
Despite the announced phase-out of commercial glyphosate, Bayer said Roundup will continue to be available for agricultural professionals. The company added that it will formulate Roundup with an as-of-yet-named alternative chemical by 2023; the formulation would require approval from the Environmental Protection Agency.
In addition to the $10 billion it has already established for settlement funds, Bayer is allocating over $4.5 billion for future Roundup litigation expenses, the Associated Press reported. Bayer is likely to ask the Supreme Court to review the second Roundup trial that resulted in a $25 million award for plaintiff Edwin Hardeman. In May, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a San Francisco jury’s decision.
Bayer is banking that if the U.S. Supreme Court reviews the case and rules in its favor, unresolved and future Roundup litigation would finally be put to rest.
Dozens of research studies on glyphosate show at least a correlational relationship between exposure to high levels of glyphosate and the development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Courthouse News Service reported.