Bayer’s Appeal to Dismiss Roundup Weedkiller Lawsuits Dismissed by U.S. Supreme Court

Roundup weed killer products. Scott Olson/Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by German company Bayer AG to dismiss lawsuits from customers who claim that one of its products – the glyphosate-based weedkiller Roundup – causes cancer. The multinational chemical and pharmaceutical company could potentially owe billions of dollars in damages, Reuters reported.

The Supreme Court’s ruling meant a lower court verdict that upheld $25 million awarded to Edwin Hardeman – a California resident and Roundup consumer who blamed Bayer’s weed killer for his cancer after using it in his home for 26 years old – was left untouched.

In 2015, Hardeman was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and claimed Bayer failed to issue a warning about the cancer risks of glyphosate, The Washington Post reported.

“[N]Now that thousands more cancer victims can continue to hold Monsanto accountable for its decades of corporate wrongdoing,” attorneys representing Hardeman, Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said in a statement, as reported by The Washington Post.

Bayer acquired Monsanto, the original maker of Roundup, in 2018.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified the herbicide glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015.

The weedkiller is still approved for use in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, BBC News reported. Parts of the European Union have banned the herbicide, according to Deutsche Welle.

A 2019 analysis showed glyphosate to be the most widely used pesticide in the United States, the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting said.

Bayer is currently in the midst of thousands of lawsuits, with another Bayer appeal on the horizon for the Supreme Court in the coming weeks, Reuters reported. The Court’s rejection of Bayer’s current appeal sent the company’s stock down 2.9%.

Last week, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was ordered by a federal appeals court to reconsider whether glyphosate poses unreasonable risks to people and the environment.

In a ruling favorable to agricultural workers, environmental and food safety advocates, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the EPA failed to sufficiently consider whether glyphosate was a threat to endangered species and caused cancer.

In its annual report released in March, Bayer said about 107,000 of its approximately 138,000 cases had been resolved. The lawsuits against the company argue that customers should have been warned of the alleged cancer risk.

Bayer asserted that claims that glyphosate and Roundup cause cancer are contrary to science and endorsement by the EPA, which has backed claims that glyphosate is not carcinogenic and, when is used as directed on the label, does not pose a public health risk.

Bayer has asked for a review of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hardeman case. The company argued that it should not be punished when the EPA did not allow a cancer warning to be placed on its product and determined it was safe.

Bayer said it plans to replace glyphosate-based weed killer ingredients in non-professional products in the United States with alternative active ingredients to “manage the risk of litigation in the United States,” but not in due to security concerns, The Washington Post reported.

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