According to EcoWatch.org, Bayer AG announced last Thursday that it is considering ending sales of glyphosate-based herbicides for residential use in the United States.
The announcement comes roughly one week after a judge rejected the Germany-based pharmaceutical giant’s revised plan to settle future Roundup cancer cases.
“Bayer will immediately engage with partners to discuss the future of glyphosate-based products in the U.S. residential market” in a move aimed at “mitigating future litigation risk,” the company said in a statement.
Bayer added that despite the company considering putting an end to selling Roundup for regular consumers, glyphosate-based products would remain for sale, for “professional and agricultural users.”
Last Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Vincent Chhabria, who is overseeing Roundup multidistrict litigation, called Bayer’s plan B attempt to resolve future Roundup lawsuits for $2 billion as “clearly unreasonable.” Chhabria said the plan would benefit Monsanto, which Bayer acquired for $63 billion three years ago, but would accomplish far less for Roundup users.
Roughly one month after Bayer acquired Monsanto and the Roundup Weed Killer product line, the first Roundup suit went to trial. One month later the trial ended, resulting in a victory for plaintiff Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, a former groundskeeper from Vallejo, CA, who used Roundup for several years and once accidentally spilled it on his body. Johnson developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or NHL, a relatively rare type of cancer, allegedly because of Roundup exposure.
Initially awarded $289 million, Johnson’s award has been twice reduced and now stands at $20.5 million.
Last month, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a $25 million lower court award in favor of Roundup plaintiff Edwin Hardeman. Hardeman’s case was the second of only three Roundup claims to have gone to trial; Hardeman’s was the first tried in a federal court. The third trial witnessed a California jury awarding a couple—Alva and Alberta Pilliod of Livermore—$2 billion, which was later reduced to $87 million.
Eventually, over 125,000 individuals would file Roundup cancer claims. Seeking to put an end to the litigation it inherited after taking over Monsanto, Bayer announced in June 2020 that it would settle the majority of those claims for $11 billion. The future settlement plan would have capped compensation at $200,000, and would have paused Roundup litigation for four years.
Per EcoWatch.org, Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), said in a statement, “Removing glyphosate from residential use would be a step in the right direction, as most of the cases now pending settlement involved serious exposure from non-farm uses.”
Cook added, “Another clear step would be for Bayer to withdraw the pesticide from end-of-season use on food crops, which gave rise to the contamination EWG has found on oat products, in hummus, and other food.”
Despite Bayer’s mulling pulling the plug on Roundup for residential use, the EPA recently recommended the herbicide be allowed to remain on US shelves indefinitely. The announcement last month by EPA came under fire by environmental groups because EPA recently admitted that the approval process for Roundup was flawed under the Trump administration. Also, recent reports by the regulatory agency reveal that glyphosate, the main active ingredient in Roundup, harms dozens of endangered species of plants and wildlife.