Monsanto found responsible for cancer case by United States court

Another guilty verdict for Monsanto as jury finds weed-killer was a ‘substantial factor’ in causing man’s cancer

Image via Mike Mozart

Although almost all scientific bodies and associated research have affirmed the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, the Hardeman case isn't the first time a jury has bucked the science. They predict that paying to resolve more than 11,000 related USA lawsuits, which Bayer inherited with its acquisition of Monsanto Co., could cost as much as US$5 billion.

Another California man was awarded $US289 million ($A407 million) in August after a state court jury found Roundup caused his cancer, sending Bayer shares plunging at the time. However a judge later slashed the damages payout to $78 million.

For the second phase of the Hardeman trial, arguments will focus on whether Monsanto is liable and if so, for how much. But the financial situation looks precarious, not least because juries tend to rely more on human emotion than hard science, especially when it comes to damages.

"We continue to believe firmly that the science confirms that glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer", said an online statement from Bayer.

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"The decision by Bayer to purchase Monsanto, a company with a long history of environmental malfeasance, could go down as one of the worst business decisions ever made", said Cook.

Bayer questions that finding: "The IARC opinion is inconsistent with 40 years of scientific research on glyphosate".

In fact, it was Singapore's Temasek Holdings which helped Bayer to acquire Monsanto. Share prices in today's early Frankfurt trading after the verdict was announced are down 12.46% at 60.90 euros ($69.12) at 11:09 a.m. GMT. The firm, run by billionaire Paul Singer, wants the CEO to evaluate breaking Bayer into separate pharmaceutical and crop chemical companies, people familiar with the matter said in December.

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One advantage of filing in state court rather than federal court is that state courts often produce outcomes faster - which can be critical for terminally ill patients. It has also cut huge numbers of jobs and sold off parts of the company. The revelations proved pivotal in the previous verdict, which caused Bayer shares to plunge.

Glyphosate, the world's most widely used herbicide and the active ingredient in Monsanto's weedkiller Roundup, is the subject of fierce controversy across the globe and is classified by the World Health Organization as "probably" being carcinogenic. He alleged that exposure to the weed killer led to his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer that affects the immune system.

The unanimous ruling in a federal court comes eight months after another jury granted $289m (£218m) in damages over similar claims of a link to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL).

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