Europe’s high court has determined that honeybees are being harmed, in part, because of the application of glyphosate, an herbicide that’s the main active ingredient in Roundup, the world’s best-selling weed killer, developed by the Monsanto Corporation, which was acquired by Bayer in 2018 for $63 billion.
According to Law360.com, yesterday, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the EU’s highest court, rejected Bayer’s final attempt to overturn a regulation that restricts the use of glyphosate and other pesticides. (Glyphosate is also a registered pesticide.)
The EU high court ruled that evidence supports the concern that certain herbicides and pesticides such as glyphosate cause harm to pollinators such as honeybees.
All five grounds of appeal brought by Bayer were rejected. Bayer’s appeals were supported by the U.K.’s National Farmers’ Union and five other agricultural trade groups based on the continent’s mainland.
Supporting the ECJ’s ruling on the ban were seven environmental groups.
Bayer argued that there’s insufficient evidence to warrant new restrictions and that a risk assessment of pesticides was incorrect.
However, per Law360.com, the EU’s high court said that the European Commission (EC), the entity that put the restrictions in place, was entitled to take precautionary measures to stop potential harm to the honeybees in the absence of scientific certainty.
Bayer was ordered to pay for the costs of the appeal.
The European branch of the Pesticide Action Network celebrated the Commission’s decision to uphold the precautionary principle. In effect, it means that in case there’s any doubt about the toxicity of a pesticide, the European Commission can enforce a temporary ban.
An article in Science Magazine provided evidence that spurred the ECJ’s ruling. The article found that so-called “neonicotinoids,” a new class of insecticides chemically related to nicotine, could have a considerable effect on the stability and survival of colonies of honeybees and bumblebees.
Over the last few years, more than 125,000 claims have been filed against Monsanto/Bayer, alleging that Roundup causes a rare form of cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After losing three trials, which resulted in multi-million-dollar judgements for plaintiffs, Bayer announced in June 2020 that it would settle the bulk of the claims for approximately $10 billion.
Plaintiffs who have filed claims allege that Monsanto became aware of the possible risks of applying glyphosate since the 1990s, “when studies began showing a correlation between the product and lymphoma,” says Law360.com.
Bayer’s plan to put an end to Roundup litigation for good, by settling future claims for $2 billion, is coming under attack by plaintiffs and their attorneys. The future settlement plan caps compensation at $200,000 and pauses litigation for four years. The plan is awaiting approval by a judge. Over 40,000 Roundup claims remain unresolved despite the settlements.
Bayer is also on the hook for a $75 million judgement against another Monsanto-developed herbicide, dicamba.