In the last few years Bayer AG, the company behind the weed killer brand Roundup, has come under fire from several lawsuits. These lawsuits allege that the largest agricultural product company in the world uses a chemical in their flagship weed killer that might cause cancer.
Earlier this year, judges in California levied a record-breaking and unprecedented 2 billion dollar fine against the company during the latest Roundup class action. This was the result of a case wherein an elderly couple, who had been using Roundup every day for 30 years, developed terminal Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas.
The couple claim that their cancer was caused by using the product without protective clothing; Roundup’s label does not specify that protective clothing should be worn while using the product.
The chemical in question in regards to their claim is called Glyphosate. What makes this a strange case is the fact that this chemical has actually been found to be completely non-carcinogenic by the federal agency and the EPA. In April, the Environmental Protection Agency actually produced a public statement guaranteeing that Glyphosate is not carcinogenic, and they concluded that there is no reason to believe that Roundup caused the couple’s cancer to develop. In that same statement, they said that the scientific reviews were consistent with other studies done by other organizations in other countries, all of whom stated the same thing.
However, the EPA’s findings clash with studies carried out by the World Health Organization. In 2015, WHO declared that Glyphosate is “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” This is in line with research done by the University Of Washington, which found that using Roundup raised the risk of cancer by 41%.
Although this is the most significant lawsuit that has been directed at the company to date, there have actually been other substantial class actions against the company already filed and won.
Last August, in the first lawsuit against Roundup, a groundskeeper was awarded 289 million dollars after a California jury ruled in favor of his claims that Roundup gave him terminal cancer.
In another case from March of last year, 80 million dollars in compensation was awarded to a man, who also blamed roundup for his development of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
In June, Bayer, the world’s largest seed and agrochemical company, obtained the rights for the Roundup brand for a staggering 63 billion dollars. Unfortunately, they obtained those rights just before the multitude of lawsuits aimed at the herbicide started rolling in. Ever since they took over the company, over 12,000 lawsuits have been filed against the Roundup line of products.
Bayer has always stood firm that its product and its active ingredient Glyphosate have absolutely no correlation to the claimant’s unfortunate circumstances. Unfortunately for the company, class action lawsuits like this have a habit of building up exponentially.