Another jury has decided that it can’t be said for sure that the world’s most popular weed killer didn’t cause cancer, and so Monsanto has once again been ordered to pay.
This time, the agribusiness giant owes a California couple $2 billion. Alva and Albert Pilliod used the product Roundup on their property for decades. In 2011, Albert was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; his wife learned in 2015 that she has the same disease.
The monetary award is likely to be reduced since it far exceeds the ratio of allowable punitive damages set by the U.S. Supreme Court. But this is the third time since August that a jury has held Monsanto accountable in cases where people have been diagnosed with cancer.
The first trial saw Dewayne Johnson awarded $289 million after he was diagnosed with terminal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He blames his constant exposure to Roundup as a groundskeeper. A judge has reduced the amount to $78 million.
And in March of this year, a federal jury agreed that Roundup played a significant role in causing Edwin Hardeman’s cancer and awarded him $80 million. Hardeman used the weed killer on his property for 26 years.
In all three trials, the jury’s have come to the same conclusion: Monsanto has not done enough to warn us about the possible dangers associated with using Roundup.
In response to the latest verdict, Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in a $63 billion deal last year, issued the following statement:
“Bayer is disappointed with the jury’s decision and will appeal the verdict in this case, which conflicts directly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s interim registration review decision released just last month (…) that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic…”
It is true that the EPA is backing glyphosate, saying that the chemical poses no risk to those who use it or consume the residues. After a recent review, Health Canada is also standing by its approval of the active ingredient in Roundup and other herbicides.
But the World Health Organization has said glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” and many communities around the world have banned its use since the verdicts against Monsanto started rolling in. France has begun taking some Roundup products off the shelves and has even promised to ban its use entirely by 2021.
According to The New York Times, the cancer trials against Monsanto have hit its parent company hard, with Bayer’s stock losing billions of dollars in value. Shares have dropped 40% since it acquired Monsanto.
It’s not Over
With Bayer set to appeal the latest verdict, the Pilliods’ case is far from over. But it will be an uphill battle for Bayer. There are more than 13,000 cases against Monsanto waiting in the wings. The next trial begins in Missouri in August.