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Judge Slashes Payout in Roundup Lawsuit, But Calls Monsanto's Conduct 'Reprehensible'



Roundup on sale in San Francisco, 2019.
Photo: Haven Daley ((AP)

A federal judge in one of the lawsuits between pharmaceutical giant AG Bayer, which bought Monsanto agrochemical giant in 2018, and plaintiffs who claim its Roundup herbicide caused their cancer has slashed a $ 80 million payout, Reuters reported on Monday. [AccordingtoReutersUSDistrictJudgeVinceChhabriainSanFranciscofoundthatwhileevidencesupportsa$527millioncompensatorydamagesowedbyBayertoEdwinHardemanpunitivedamagesshouldbereducedfrom$75millionto$20millionChhabriawrotethatMonsantowas"deservestobepunished"forignoringsafetyconcernsanditsconductwas"reprehensible"healsofoundtheratioofpunitivetocompensatorydamageswastoohigh"particularlyintheabsenceofevidenceshowingintentionalconcealmentofaknownorobvioussafetyrisk"

The Wall Street Journal reported that while Chhabria found mixed scientific evidence as to whether Roundup exposure is a risk factor for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, The paper noted that while Bayer has lost two additional cases involving Roundup (in one case involving a jury award of over $ 2 trillion) and facing thousands of others, it has had success limiting payouts:

judge slash the first roundup jury in the case of a San Francisco Bay Area ground shipper, to $ 78.5 million from $ 289.2 million. The company is now appealing that slimmed-down amount. Bayer is asking for a third jury verdict, in Northern California, or more than $ 2 billion awarded in May to a couple who used Roundup at their home

In Mr. Hardeman's trial, unlike in the other two, jurors first weighed whether or not science showed a link between roundup and his non-Hodgkin lymphoma before turning to the question of Monsanto's liability … The trio of jury verdicts and 13,000 additional claims tying roundup to cancer have sent German-based Bayer into turmoil. Its shares have lost over 30% in value over the past year as investors worry about Bayer billions.

According to Reuters, Chhabria emphasized that it was required to reduce the punitive damages due preceded by the Supreme Court, but he felt the jury's original award was reasonable.

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) with Roundup's key ingredient, glyphosate, a "probable carcinogen" in 2015 – supported by a study this year finding glyphosate exposure was associated with significantly higher risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hardeman says that he used the herbicide on a large property north of San Francisco for over two decades.

Monsanto insists that Roundup is safe, but court documents have shown it in hand over supposedly independent evaluations of its safety. The Environmental Protection Agency's official position is also that Roundup is safe when used according to label instructions, though an EPA officially responsible for evaluating its safety has caused a suspiciously cozy relationship with Monsanto.

That said, there is disagreement on how much of a risk roundup truly poses. University of California, Riverside Toxicologist David Eastmond, author of a glyphosate review for the World Health Organization's Joint FAO / WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues, told NPR earlier this year that the IARC had simply found that the chemical could cause cancer without evaluating how likely it was. is a risk to the public.

“From cancer to cancer, it is pretty weak carcinogen, which means that you're going to need pretty high doses in order to cause it,” Eastmond customs NPR, based on his conclusions, was not considered by the IARC.

“We are pleased that the judge of Monsanto's motion to throw out the verdict, and recognized that Monsanto deserved to be punished, ”Jennifer Moore, a member of Hardeman's legal team, told Reuters. "We disagree with any reduction in the jury's verdict."

Backlash against Roundup is building elsewhere as well. Austrian legislators recently approved a total ban on glyphosate, positioning it to be the first member state of the European Union to do so and creating the possibility of other nations following suit.


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