We’ve been reporting for years on the negative health effects of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the Roundup herbicide. While world bodies like the World Health Organization say that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen,” the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains that glyphosate is safe. Let’s not forget, though, that cronyism mars the EPA decision: unsealed court documents showed that a top EPA official (Jess Rowland) promised Monsanto he would quash efforts by the Department of Health to conduct its own review of glyphosate. So much for the federal government protecting the interests of people rather than special interests. There are now 13,400 cases pending that allege Roundup causes cancer. We hope these legal developments accomplish what government regulators were unable (or unwilling) to do: get glyphosate off the market for good.
After less than two full days of deliberations, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay just over $2 billion in punitive and compensatory damages to a married couple who both developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma they say was caused by their many years of using Roundup products. After listening to 17 days of trial testimony, jurors said Monsanto must pay $1 billion to Alberta Pilliod, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma brain cancer in 2015, and another $1 billion to her husband Alva Pilliod, who was diagnosed in 2011 with non-Hodgkin lymphoma that spread from his bones to his pelvis and spine. The couple, who are both in their 70s, started using Roundup in the 1970s and continued using the herbicide until only a few years ago. The jury also awarded the couple a total of $55 million in damages for past and future medical bills and other losses. In ordering punitive damages, the jury had to find that Monsanto “engaged in conduct with malice, oppression or fraud committed by one or more officers, directors or managing agents of Monsanto” who were acting on behalf of the company. Pilliod v. Monsanto is the third Roundup cancer case to go to trial. And it is the third to conclude that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides can cause cancer and that Monsanto has long known about – and covered up – the risks.
Monsanto Not Only Problem Facing Bayer: Investors Question Ethics in Selling Banned Pesticides in Brazil
Bayer CEO Werner Baumann recently lost a crucial confidence vote as investors questioned his handling of the $63 billion Monsanto deal and the wave of US lawsuits that followed. In what Bloomberg called "a stunning development for the German drugs and chemicals company", about 55 percent of shareholders voted against absolving Baumann and other managers of responsibility for their actions in the takeover last year. The vote threw Baumann's future into question and prompted an immediate supervisory board session. While much of the investor unrest undoubtedly focuses on financial liability, strong concerns are being raised about Bayer's ethics. At Bayer's annual general meeting, Christian Russau from the umbrella organization, the Critical Shareholders, made a speech in which he launched a scathing attack on the company for its "double standards". According to Russau, Bayer sells pesticides in Brazil that are banned in the EU. Russau said he feared that companies such as Bayer will continue to participate, perhaps more than ever, in the sale and distribution of highly toxic agrochemicals in Brazil. As a survival tactic in the face of Monsanto's multi-billion dollar acquisition, Bayer will go for growth at any price. Any poison which can be sold will be sold.
Jury Slams Monsanto for Corporate Malfeasance in Roundup Cancer Trial, Awards $80 Million in Damages
Today, a second jury in less that 8 months found Bayer-Monsanto’s signature weedkiller Roundup responsible for causing cancer. The verdict in the case Hardeman v. Monsanto before a federal district court in San Francisco found exposure to glyphosate, the signature ingredient in Roundup, caused plaintiff Edward Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Jurors awarded $80 million in damages to Hardeman. “Clearly, the testimony that informed the jury’s decision was Bayer-Monsanto hiding Roundup’s carcinogenic properties, manipulating the science and cozying-up with EPA so it would not have to warn consumers of its dangerous product,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Bayer-Monsanto has known for decades the cancer-causing properties of Roundup and I applaud the jury for holding the company accountable for failing to warn consumers of the known danger. This verdict puts Bayer’s back firmly up against the wall as the cost of litigation mounts and its stock price gets pummeled once again,” said Cook.
Judge Rejects Monsanto’s Bid to Overturn Glyphosate Conviction but Reduces Punitive Damages from $250 Million to $39 Million
Earlier this week (October 2018) San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos rejected Monsanto’s appeal to overturn the jury verdict which found that glyphosate in the herbicide RoundUp causes cancer. Judge Bolanos had earlier hinted that she might overturn the jury's verdict, and eliminate the $250 million in punitive damages. While denying Monsanto's attorneys their request for a new trial, Judge Bolanos did reduce the punitive damages from $250 million to $39 million, the same amount (39 million) that was awarded to the plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, who is not expected to live much longer due to his cancer diagnosis. Judge Bolanos also stated that if Dewayne Johnson and his attorneys did not accept the reduction in punitive damages, that she would order a new trial. Johnson’s lawyers said in a statement that the “reduction in punitive damages was unwarranted” and that his legal team, Baum Hedlund and the Miller Firm, was “weighing the options.” Bayer, now the parent company for Monsanto, stated that they would file another appeal of the jury's verdict.
The recent Monsanto-Bayer merger has been approved by both American and European continent authorities, merging two of the world's top seed biotech companies and producers of genetically modified seeds. Bayer, a company based out of Germany, is a name most often associated with aspirin in the United States and around the world. But even before this merger, they already hold a huge market share of seed production. Bayer is somewhat constrained in developing their GMO products, as Germany bans the cultivation of GMO crops. Most of Bayer's GMO development is done in the USA, and by purchasing Monsanto, they will become, by far, the largest GMO company in the world. This has prompted some to refer to the Bayer-Monsanto merger as "A Marriage Made in Hell."
A $66 billion buyout by the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer could make it harder for consumers to avoid products from the biotech behemoth. The number of companies controlling our food supply is about to shrink even further now that Bayer has bought Monsanto for $66 billion in cash, creating the world’s largest seed and pesticide company. The new megacorporation will control 25% of the world’s seeds and pesticides. Along with two other proposed biotech mergers, three companies will soon control the lion’s share of the world’s agricultural services, from seed production, to the herbicide and pesticide sprays that go on them, to the biotechnology used to produce them all. Monsanto/Bayer, Dow/DuPont, and Syngenta/ChemChina will sell 59% of the world’s seeds and 64% of the world pesticides.