The legal troubles keep mounting for German pharmaceutical giant Bayer since it acquired Monsanto last June for $62.5 billion as its weedkiller Roundup has now been linked to a second man’s cancer, as more than 11,200 other plaintiffs are waiting in the wings.
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This week, a federal jury in San Francisco found that Monsanto's Roundup was a “substantial factor” in causing 70-year-old Edwin Hardeman to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The company denies the connection. The trial now moves to phase two, which will decide whether Monsanto's conduct makes it liable.
The loss follows last year's groundbreaking case when another California jury found that the weedkiller was responsible for Dewayne “Lee” Johnson developing the same type of cancer. Last August, a jury awarded Johnson $289 million, which was later reduced to $78.5 million.
“Monsanto not only lost another trial this week but also this week the largest study ever done of 300,000 [farmers who were exposed to glyphosate] showed an increased risk for the vast majority of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” attorney Michael Miller of the Miller Firm, who served as one of Johnson’s attorneys during the trial and now represents several thousand other Roundup victims across the country, told FOX Business.
The new study, which was released Monday by the International Journal of Epidemiology, showed links between glyphosate (a chemical that Roundup uses) herbicides and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, using data from more than 300,000 farmers and agricultural workers in France, Norway and the U.S. Researchers found that the specific type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma linked to glyphosate exposure was diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, the same type of cancer Hardeman has.
Miller, who is currently in Oakland, California picking a jury for a husband and wife who both claim they developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after long-term exposure to Roundup, said Bayer's management is still in denial about the weedkiller.
“The best move for Bayer is to settle with their victims before the company drowns in this litigation,” Miller added.
Christopher Loder, a spokesperson for Bayer, told FOX Business that despite the more than 11,200 pending litigations the company is facing across the country, it “stands behind these products and will vigorously defend them.”
“Roundup products and their active ingredient, glyphosate, have been used safely and successfully for over four decades worldwide and are a valuable tool to help farmers deliver crops to markets and practice sustainable farming by reducing soil tillage, soil erosion and carbon emissions. Regulatory authorities around the world consider glyphosate-based herbicides as safe when used as directed,” Bayer said in statement following Hardeman's verdict.
The company added that there have been more than 800 rigorous studies submitted to the EPA, European and other regulators in connection with the registration process that confirms that these products are safe “when used as directed.” Bayer, however, did not reply to a request for comment on the new study released this week on glyphosate.
However, glyphosate has been under scrutiny for years. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization, identified the ingredient as a “probable carcinogen.”
Miller and his law firm are urging Bayer to put a bold warning on Roundup and restrict its use.
Last August, Timothy Litzenburg, another attorney for Johnson, told FOX Business that after defeating Bayer in court, calls from other victims keep pouring into their offices and they are currently shifting through thousands of new complaints.
Bayer's shares have been on the decline since the company's first jury loss last August, down from almost $28 per share to around $17 on Thursday morning.