Harvesting of herbicides: US Supreme Court deals a severe blow to Bayer

Harvesting of herbicides: US Supreme Court deals a severe blow to Bayer


Roundup herbicide on shelves in Los Angeles, California on September 1, 2019 (AFP / Mark RALSTON)

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to grant a request from German group Bayer, owner of Monsanto, in a case related to its herbicide Roundup, opening the door to several billion dollars in compensation.

By not taking the case back, the high court finalized an earlier court decision that sentenced the group to pay $ 25 million to a retiree, Edwin Hardeman, who attributes his cancer to glyphosate-based herbicide.

As usual, the Supreme Court did not give reasons for its decision.

But the latter risks having serious consequences for the group, which is already facing more than 31 thousand complaints in addition to those for which it has already concluded an agreement, a figure that could rise.

The German company had already allocated 6.5 billion dollars to deal with these new procedures (2 billion initially then further 4.5 billion after the rejection of a previous agreement). You may be required to pay more depending on the handling of complaints.

The Supreme Court decision “opens a clear path” for cancer victims to court, says attorney Matt Stubbs.

His company represents thousands of Roundup-related plaintiffs and “a flurry of cases” will be prosecuted “in the next few months,” he says.

Bayer shares fell 2.05% on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

A French farmer uses Roundup herbicide in his fields in Saint Germain-sur-Sarthe on September 16, 2019 (AFP / JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER)

A French farmer uses Roundup herbicide in his fields in Saint Germain-sur-Sarthe on September 16, 2019 (AFP / JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER)

“Bayer respectfully disagrees with the Supreme Court’s decision,” but “is fully prepared to face the legal risk associated with potential future US complaints,” the group responded in a statement.

The company says it “admits no wrong or responsibility” and “continues to support its Roundup products, a valuable tool for efficient agricultural production around the world.”

– Ready to fight “unreasonable” complaints –

Edwin Hardeman, diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015, was one of the first to take Monsanto to court, blaming his cancer on the herbicide he had used on his large estate for 25 years.

He accused the Monsanto group of misleading users by claiming that the glyphosate-based product was harmless and did not display warnings on its labels.

Bayer was sentenced in 2019 to pay him $ 25 million, a decision confirmed on appeal in 2021.

Edwin Hardeman (left) in San Francisco, California on March 27, 2019 (AFP / Josh Edelson)

Edwin Hardeman (left) in San Francisco, California on March 27, 2019 (AFP / Josh Edelson)

The company then went to the US Supreme Court, pointing out that the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes that glyphosate poses no health hazard and therefore does not deserve any special cancer warnings. .

Last week a California-based appeals court ordered the EPA to reconsider that conclusion.

Glyphosate, the main active substance in Roundup, is classified as a ‘probable carcinogen’ by the World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

But Monsanto has always insisted that no studies have concluded that glyphosate and Roundup, marketed in the 1970s, are dangerous.

German group Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018 for $ 63 billion, has since found itself embroiled in multiple herbicide-related proceedings in the United States.

The Bayer Group logo on one of its buildings in Berlin, Germany, on March 20, 2019 (AFP / Odd ANDERSEN)

The Bayer Group logo on one of its buildings in Berlin, Germany, on March 20, 2019 (AFP / Odd ANDERSEN)

In June 2020, he signed a $ 10 billion deal to settle the lawsuits. The parties had agreed to add $ 2 billion to resolve future claims, but that part of the deal was rejected by a California judge.

In an attempt to permanently end all proceedings, the group presented a five-point plan in the summer of 2021 providing that in the event of a defeat in the Supreme Court on the Hardeman case, it would initiate discussions on the complaints not included. in the 2020 agreement.

On Tuesday, Bayer said it was “fully prepared to defend cases in court where plaintiffs’ expectations are unreasonable and outside the scope of this program.”

After some defeats in American courts, the German company recently registered four sentences in its favor and recalls that the Supreme Court must rule on another case it has appealed: a decision that grants 87 million dollars to Alva and Alberta Pilliod, both with lymphoma after years of using Roundup.

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