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John Reitman

By John Reitman

Bayer nears deal to settle Roundup claims

Bayer has reached a deal to settle most of the thousands of cases alleging that its weedkiller Roundup is responsible for causing cancer among its users.


Bayer has set aside $8 billion to settle an estimated 50,000 to 85,000 existing cases, according to published reports by Bloomberg and Fortune. The company has earmarked another $2 billion to cover future claims, the reports say. In exchange, Roundup will remain on the market and attorneys involved say they will stop advertising for and accepting new claims against Bayer, which bought Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, in 2018. 

As many as 125,000 suits have been filed against Monsanto alleging that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is responsible for the plaintiffs' non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer continues to appeal some of the early verdicts, just three of which resulted in jury awards of more than $2 billion damages, which were later reduced by a judge to $191 million. 

The first trial in the ongoing Roundup saga, which resulted in a $289 million verdict for the plaintiff in August 2018, went before a California appeals court this week. Bayer asked the court to set aside the verdict or at least order a new trial, according to Reuters. The results of that case could affect the payout each party receives in the settlement, said an arbiter working between attorneys on both sides. Awards will range from a few thousand dollars per claim to a few million, Fortune said.

Bloomberg suggests Bayer has a strong chance to win its appeal in California, but adds that if the court upholds the earlier ruling it could result in Bayer paying more in its settlement and in future cases.

At the center of the glyphosate debate are conflicting reports by the World Health Organization and the EPA. In 2015, the WHO concluded that glyphosate was a "probable" carcinogen. The EPA, on the other hand, has said that there is no evidence indicating that glyphosate causes cancer based on the results of more than 800 tests and studies.

Bayer's stock value has taken a hit since 2018, dropping by as much as 62 percent. Stock prices currently are down about percent since the acquisition in 2018.

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