Bayer ordered to pay $2bn in new US Roundup trial

The trials were the first of an estimated 13,000 lawsuits against Monsanto

TOM DILLANE STUFFThe trials were the first of an estimated 13,000 lawsuits against Monsanto

The jury ruled that Monsanto-which was acquired by the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer last year-is liable for the Pilliods' non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), the third such ruling in less than a year.

From left, Alva Pilliod, lawyer Brent Wisner, Alberta Pilliod and lawyer Michael Miller appear at a news conference, Monday, May 13, 2019, in San Francisco, a few hours after an Oakland, Calif., jury ordered Monsanto Co.to pay the Pilliods $2.055 billion.

The Pilliods allege the regular use of Roundup on their property between 1975 and 2011 caused them to develop cancers of the lymph system. A California jury has awarded $2.055 billion to Alva and Alberta Pilliod of Livermore, California.

This follows almost six weeks of testimony followed by closing arguments last Wednesday.

There have also been concerns about whether Monsanto has had undue influence over regulators, with internal company documents playing a key role in Monday's verdict, according to the plaintiffs' lawyers. She says they are unable to enjoy the same activities they participated in before their cancer diagnosis.

In their suit, they accused Monsanto of "fraudulently representing that Roundup is safe despite scientific evidence linking exposure to National Hockey League".

It called the jury's decision "excessive and unjustifiable" adding that both Alva and Alberta Pilliod had histories of illnesses that were known risk factors for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In addition, the largest and most recent epidemiologic study - the 2018 independent National Cancer Institute-supported long-term study that followed over 50,000 pesticide applicators for more than 20 years and was published after the IARC monograph - found no association between glyphosate-based herbicides and cancer. He said judges rarely allow punitive damages to exceed four times actual damages awarded.

In a statement, Bayer said it was disappointed with the verdict and would appeal. "Bayer must also wonder if Monsanto deployed the same underhanded tactics during their courtship that courtroom disclosures have shown permeated its corporate culture: deep deception, prevarication and denial in a headlong pursuit of profit, human and environmental consequences be damned".

Glyphosate was developed by Monsanto in the United States in the 1970s and has become one of the most widely used ingredients in weed killers worldwide.

The prior two jury verdicts against Bayer in Roundup trials in the U.S. triggered steep declines in Bayer shares.

On Friday, the French newspaper Le Monde broke the news that the public relations agency FleishmanHillard had compiled a list of over 200 journalists, politicians and scientists showing their positions on Monsanto, in an effort to help Bayer launch a media counter-offensive. "We consider what we have seen so far to be completely inappropriate", he said.

In March, a federal jury in San Francisco awarded $80m to another California man after finding Roundup caused his cancer.

Monsanto was acquired by the pharmaceutical giant Bayer for $63 billion previous year.

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