In 2018, Bayer AG, a German pharmaceutical company, purchased Monsanto, the crop sciences behemoth, for $63 billion. With the acquisition, Bayer also inherited Monsanto’s legal troubles over its chemical compound, glyphosate, which is the main active ingredient in the Roundup weed- and grass-killer product line. Roughly one month after the acquisition was completed, the first of three Roundup lawsuits that have gone to trial began. The trial lasted one month and ended in a victory for the plaintiff, a former groundskeeper from the San Francisco Bay Area named Dwayne Lee Johnson, who was initially awarded $289 million in damages.
The other two Roundup trials that have gone to trial also resulted in multi-million-dollar awards for the plaintiffs. (Monsanto has appealed all three judgements.)
After Johnson’s trial victory, it became apparent that Monsanto could be defeated and thus held liable for its glyphosate-based herbicides and pesticides. Consequently, thousands of Roundup cancer lawsuits have been filed in the last couple of years. Facing approximately 125,000 state-level lawsuits, Bayer announced in June of last year that it would settle approximately 95,000 of those cases for nearly $11 billion.
But that means Bayer still faces 30,000 claims. Some plaintiffs have refused to settle, instead, waiting patiently for their day in court to arrive. In addition, the company will likely have to pay an additional $2 billion to resolve future lawsuits, and faces approximately another 3,500 lawsuits filed at the federal level.
Moreover, at least one plaintiff has filed a secondary, non-injury lawsuit. As opposed to the 128,500 or so Roundup injury lawsuits, in which plaintiffs allege that using the herbicide caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (a type of cancer that attacks the lymph nodes), this plaintiff did not develop cancer. Rather, the plaintiff, a Delaware man, is suing Monsanto (in a Delaware federal court), demanding that there be a cancer warning label on Roundup products.
Recently, Monsanto asked a Delaware judge to dismiss the lawsuit. Attorneys for Monsanto argue that since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that glyphosate does not cause cancer, the the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (‘FIFRA’) requires that pesticides be sold without deviation from the EPA-approved label and requires that pesticides not be misbranded by including false or misleading statements.” [SOURCE]
The EPA is facing a lawsuit by a coalition of farmworkers, farm owners and conservation organizations over its reapproval of glyphosate as a pesticide. At the end of December 2020, opening statements and evidence were presented.
And despite the EPA’s assertion that glyphosate poses no risk to human health, the agency released a report two months ago, indicating that glyphosate is likely to harm over 93 percent of endangered species and 96 percent of their habitats.
In July of 2020, a California judge ruled that the state of California has no basis to enforce a Proposition 65 cancer warning label on glyphosate-based products. Less than one month later, an appeals court in California ruled that Monsanto has an obligation to warn consumers about the inherent risks of using Roundup.
Meanwhile, the judgement on this non-injury Roundup lawsuit is forthcoming…