Bayer Jury Awards on Roundup Underscore Legal Rift Over Science

Roundup labels sit on a spool during packaging at a Belgian herbicide manufacturing facility operated by Monsanto Co. in 2016. Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Jurors have sided with plaintiffs in all three cases over Bayer AG’s herbicide Roundup to go to trial so far, finding that glyphosate causes cancer and awarding a total of more than $2.2 billion in damages.

Those results underscore a growing skepticism of juries to trust the science conducted by regulators, which, if it continues, could have profound impacts on the ability of companies to defend themselves in product liability cases, several legal analysts told Bloomberg Environment.

“Over the past 10 years, jurors have become increasingly skeptical of government regulators and the notion that science is pure,” said Allan Kanner, a plaintiffs’ attorney with Kanner & Whiteley LLC who handles toxic tort cases.

Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer AG last year and which makes Roundup, has been accused of covering up the chemical’s health risks.

The first Roundup verdict came in August 2018, when a state jury awarded California groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson $289 million, which was later reduced to $78 million. Since then, the number of plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits blaming Roundup for their cancers has grown to 18,400, according to Bayer’s second-quarter report released July 30. And the actions have been filed by a wide range of plaintiffs including, just last month, former NFL running back and ESPN analyst Merril Hoge.

Despite losing at trial in each of the three cases to go before a jury, the company remains confident that appellate judges will be more willing to side with the company’s toxicology evidence, which includes findings by both federal and international regulators.

“We continue to believe that we have meritorious defenses and intend to defend ourselves vigorously,” the company said in its report.

But Kanner said that strategy is based on a premise that regulatory experts still hold a deciding influence over jurors.

“That model, which Bayer has used in these first three trials, is based on a world view among jurors that no longer exists, or is rapidly eroding,” he said.

As the number of cases against Bayer mounts, speculation is growing among legal analysts that glyphosate has the potential to prompt a raft of claims globally. MORE

WATCH: Investigative reporter talks about Bayer/Monsanto’s efforts to discredit her work

“I really was just doing my job as a journalist.”

Investigative reporter Carey Gillam sat down with nonprofit newsroom The Real News Network to discuss recent reporting on how Bayer/Monsanto attempted to discredit her reporting on the weedkiller glyphosate— the active ingredient in Roundup.

The interview comes on the heels of Gillam’s piece in The Guardian last week, I’m a journalist. Monsanto built a step-by-step strategy to destroy my reputation, that outlined how Monsanto had an action plan specifically to discredit her reporting and her award-winning book, Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science.

“This campaign by Monsanto against me has been going on for a long time … well more than a decade certainly,” Gillam says in the Real News Network interview.

“And I really was just doing my job as a journalist. I was reporting on the new scientific evidence that was coming out about different risks—cancer risks and other health risks—associated with Monsanto’s herbicides.” SOURCE

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As a retired teacher and organic gardener in Ben Lomond, California, he decided to join the Environmental Committee for the local San Lorenzo Valley Water District. The small district serves 7,900 connections with mostly surface water.

Six months into the appointment things were going well. Then, Rick Moran began reading through a proposal titled “French Broom Management Plan for the Olympia Watershed.” He realized that the Water District had used, and was going to again use, the controversial herbicide glyphosate in a “cut and dab” process to kill about 19,000 invasive broom plants. Worse yet, the herbicide would be used near two well heads. MORE