Already facing thousands of lawsuits over its controversial Roundup weed killer, Bayer AG reported in October that the number of cases alleging that the company’s glyphosate-based products cause cancer more than doubled over the past three months, to more than 42,000. Last year, Bayer acquired Monsanto and its Roundup products for $63 billion, a move that effectively created the largest seed and agrochemical company on the planet, and one that has left Bayer reeling under an avalanche of product liability lawsuits. Three U.S. juries have already ruled against Bayer in cases brought by plaintiffs alleging that Roundup caused them to develop cancer and the cancer lawsuits continue to pile up by the thousands.
First introduced in 1974, glyphosate has become the most widely used agricultural herbicide in the United States, used on more than 100 food crops, including glyphosate-resistant corn, cotton, soybean, canola and sugar beet. Glyphosate is also commonly used for non-agricultural purposes, sprayed in orchards, parks, forests, fields, and home lawns and gardens to control weeds and invasive grasses. Unfortunately, what many people didn’t know until now is that Roundup and other glyphosate-based products may pose a risk of cancer to those who come in contact with the herbicides. You could be at risk for cancer if you have been exposed to Roundup through contact with skin, contact with eyes, by inhaling during use, or by ingesting the weed killer, if you did not properly wash your hands after using Roundup.
To say that the “official” view on the safety of glyphosate is complicated is a gross understatement. Consider the following seemingly contradictory findings on the potential link between glyphosate (Roundup) and cancer that have emerged in the past few years alone:
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), declares glyphosate a “probable human carcinogen.”
U.N. experts report that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a risk of cancer to humans exposed to the chemical through their diet.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releases the draft human health and ecological risk assessments for glyphosate, indicating that “glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
California regulators add glyphosate to a state-mandated list of carcinogenic chemicals, but the implementation of the rule is delayed while Monsanto challenges the decision in court.
Email correspondence between the EPA and Monsanto reveals a difference of opinion between the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) and the Office of Research and Development (ORD) about the agency’s glyphosate cancer assessment. Unlike the the OPP, which characterizes glyphosate as “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans,” the ORD determined that “either glyphosate was likely to cause cancer or that there was at least some evidence suggesting a problem.”
Unsealed court documents reveal the efforts Monsanto engaged in to collude with the EPA to cover up the potential risk of cancer from glyphosate.
The EPA reaffirms its 2017 findings, reporting that “there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label” and concluding that “glyphosate is not a carcinogen.”
The EPA also steps in to block California’s Roundup cancer warning, announcing that it would not approve product labels claiming that glyphosate is known to cause cancer.
Bayer says there is extensive scientific research disproving the alleged link between glyphosate-based herbicides and cancer and plans to appeal the recent court rulings. However, throughout the ongoing Roundup litigation, revelations have emerged that raise serious doubts about at least some of this so-called research. For instance, Monsanto has been accused of financing ghostwritten studies aimed at discrediting independent research that questions the safety of glyphosate. Furthermore, Monsanto scientists were the “researchers” behind a paper published in a scientific journal in 2000, which concluded that Roundup posed no public health risk and which the EPA has cited as a reference in backing up the safety of Roundup.
As more information comes to light about the potential for Roundup to cause cancer, the number of Roundup cancer lawsuits pending against Bayer continues to grow at a shocking rate. In July 2019, Bayer reported facing 18,400 Roundup lawsuits, but by October 2019, the number of cases had skyrocketed to 42,700, which is indicative of the widespread nature of the issue. In the first Roundup cancer lawsuit to go to trial, a California jury found that Monsanto had failed to properly warn consumers about the potential risk of cancer from glyphosate and ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages, an award that was later reduced to $78 million. The lawsuit was brought by a school groundskeeper who was regularly exposed to Roundup during his regular work duties and alleged that the weed killer caused him to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
All of the Roundup lawsuits pending against Bayer involve similar allegations that the glyphosate-based weed killer caused or contributed to the plaintiff’s cancer and recent reports suggest that, if any settlement is reached in the Roundup litigation, it could range from $6 billion to $20 billion. If you or someone you love was exposed to Roundup and has since been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or another type of cancer, don’t hesitate to get legal help. Contact a knowledgeable Roundup cancer attorney as soon as possible to find out if you are eligible for compensation.