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John Reitman

By John Reitman

Bayer facing more cancer claims even after settling billions in suits


Almost a year after Bayer agreed to drop billions to settle nearly 100,000 cases in which plaintiffs claimed the weedkiller was responsible for their cancer, another round of suits against the chemical company are set to begin.

A California woman who used Roundup for more than 30 years is the next person to say glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular weed killer, caused her non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The trial is set to begin July 19 in San Bernardino County Superior Court.

In September, Bayer settled thousands of cases for a total of $11 billion. The company also sought to shelter itself against future litigation, but a judge in San Francisco denied Bayer's proposal to set aside another $2 billion to settle all future claims.

Instead, many attorneys have rejected offers from the class action settlement as insufficient, according to published reports. With thousands of cases still pending, and Bayer's turf and ornamental segment up for sale, it appears the legal system is ready to let this play out until the company has nothing left to give. 

Bayer bought Monsanto (and Roundup) in 2018 for $63 million and has been defending itself against cancer claims ever since. It has said it is considering removing Roundup for sale to the residential consumer market.

The decision to divest Bayer Environmental Science includes its professional turf and ornamental business, but does not include the segment's agricultural  or commercial units, which are among its most profitable divisions. The company's Crop Science division plans to focus heavily on growing its presence in the agriculture industry. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released studies indicating that Roundup was safe if used according to label instructions. The courts, however, sided with those who cited World Health Organization data and a document known as the Zhang paper that state glyphosate could be a carcinogen.

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