Jury awards $2bn in another verdict against Monsanto

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A California jury has awarded a couple more than $2bn in a verdict against Monsanto, a subsidiary of Bayer. According to a NPR report, this is the third recent court decision involving claims that the company’s Roundup weed killer caused cancer.

The jury in Alameda County, just east of San Francisco, ruled that the couple, Alva and Alberta Pilliod of Livermore, California, contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma because of their use of the glyphosate-based herbicide. They were each awarded $1bn in punitive damages and an additional $55m in collective compensatory damages.

Many legal experts believe the damages will be drastically reduced on appeal.

The report says the verdict represents the third such legal setback for the company in California since mid-2018. In March, a San Francisco jury awarded $80m to a man who blamed his cancer on his extensive use of Roundup. In August 2018, another San Francisco jury awarded $289m to a fourth plaintiff. On appeal a judge later slashed that pay-out to $78m.

The report says Bayer is appealing each of these verdicts. The company insists there is no link between Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “Bayer is disappointed with the jury’s decision and will appeal the verdict in this case, which conflicts directly with the US Environmental Protection Agency‘s interim registration review decision released just last month, the consensus among leading health regulators worldwide that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic, and the 40 years of extensive scientific research on which their favourable conclusions are based,” the company is quoted as saying.

At least one environmental group praised the verdict. Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said in the report: ‘The cloud hanging over Bayer will only grow bigger and darker, as more juries hear how Monsanto manipulated its own research, colluded with regulators and intimidated scientists to keep secret the cancer risks from glyphosate.’

The report says four years ago, a UN-sponsored scientific agency declared that Roundup probably causes cancer but the finding from the International Agency for Research on Cancer caused Monsanto to launch a fierce campaign to discredit the IARC’s conclusions.

More than 13,000 other lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto.

And, after three jury verdicts in California, a trial is scheduled for August in St Louis County in Missouri, the site of Monsanto’s former headquarters.

NPR material

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