Bayer Shares Plummet Upon Verdict That Roundup Caused Man's Cancer

Jeannie Matthews
March 21, 2019

The steep falls came after a second USA jury ruled that blockbuster pesticide Roundup - made by recently-acquired Monsanto - causes cancer.

The German company, which acquired Roundup as part of its $66bn takeover of United States rival Monsanto, said it was disappointed with the jury's initial decision.

A jury in the US District Court for the Northern District of California found on Tuesday that Monsanto's herbicide Roundup was, more likely than not, a "substantial factor" in 70-year-old Sonoma County farmer Edwin Hardeman's cancer.

Another jury reached that conclusion a year ago and awarded the plaintiff, DeWayne Johnson, $289 million.

The latest case has so far brought no damages award against Bayer, as jurors now have to decide whether Monsanto is liable for the harm suffered by Hardeman.

Bayer denies allegations that Roundup, or glyphosate, cause cancer. In this second phase of the trial, lawyers will be allowed to present evidence. We have great sympathy for Mr. Hardeman and his family, but an extensive body of science supports the conclusion that Roundup was not the cause of his cancer. Monsanto said studies have established that the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is safe. Even as more cases are waiting to be heard in U.S. courts, more cancer sufferers are also queuing to file suits against Monsanto. But the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a subsidiary of World Health Organization, concluded in 2015 that glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic to humans".

Not all disagree with the verdict, such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a group critical of glyphosate use.

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Jurors in the earlier California state court case of Dewayne "Lee" Johnson, a school groundskeeper who suffers from terminal non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, found in August that Monsanto acted with "malice".

Evidence is nearly certain to resurface that Monsanto ghostwrote scientific literature and influenced regulators to claim that Roundup is safe. Bayer said that it would appeal the award and decision entirely. "The day of reckoning for Bayer and its cancer-causing weedkiller is getting closer".

A wave of lawsuits has put pressure on Bayer since its $63-billion takeover of Monsanto a year ago, spooking investors who worry damages payouts could quickly mount into the billions if the firm fails to convince courts its product is safe.

The stock drop during Wednesday morning trading on the Frankfurt exchange wiped out nearly $8 billion from Bayer's market value.

Last August on an investment community teleconference, Bayer executives said insurance is in place for circumstances such as this.

German chemical giant Bayer, which has seen its stock shed nearly 40 of its value since it acquired Monsanto for $63 billion in June 2018, has defended Roundup.

Colombia became the last country in the world to outlaw aerial spraying of glyphosate in 2015, but President Ivan Duque in March 2019 called for the ban to modified in order tackle record cocaine crops. "There is a reason glyphosate has been used (successfully) for over four decades".

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