With the Monsanto acquisition, Bayer faced enormous legal risks – largely because of glyphosate, which kills weeds. Leverkusen counted on liberation before the Supreme Court.
The Bayer group has lost a groundbreaking legal dispute over alleged cancer risk associated with herbicide glyphosate by appealing to the US Supreme Court.
In Washington, the US Supreme Court announced that it would not pursue the case, which would pave the way for many other US cases. For Bayer, it is the dying of – at least initially – hope of liberation in an ongoing conflict over the legal problems that the agrochemical and pharmaceutical company led to the $ 60 billion purchase of the US seed giant Monsanto in 2018.
In particular, the complaint to the Supreme Court concerned a review of the judgment in favor of plaintiff Edwin Hardeman, who accused Monsanto’s glyphosate-containing products of cancer. In 2019, after a court hearing, he finally received a good $ 25 million in damages. Bayer vehemently denies that glyphosate causes cancer. The company argues for regulatory approval and research to show herbicides like Monsanto’s controversial Roundup are safe when used as directed.
Legal risk worth billions
Bayer had high hopes for the Supreme Court to overturn the decision. This would be a signal to the many other glyphosate lawsuits in the US that depended on the billions of dollars in legal risk to the Dax group. But the decision of the US Supreme Court not to accept Hardeman’s case comes as no surprise. President Joe Biden’s administration has previously advised the Supreme Court against this. It was a remarkable turnaround – under Donald Trump, Washington initially supported Bayer.
“We cannot understand the Supreme Court rejection of the Hardeman case,” Bayer said. In its statement, however, the group indicates that it intends to continue seeking a glyphosate clarification ruling at the highest level of a US court. While this decision ends the Hardeman case, there are other cases – including Roundup – that the Supreme Court can deal with. “We are encouraged by the intense support from public officials, farmer groups and other stakeholders who are following the US government’s legal return.”
Additional reserves of $ 4.5 billion
Leverkusen has already set a course of failure at the Supreme Court. Bayer set up additional $ 4.5 billion in reserves last summer for the case. The company wants to use this money to create a program that will address claims of potential new claimants in the US over the next 15 years. Bayer previously committed approximately $ 11 billion to settle Monsanto’s legal problems with a major US settlement. Even if a Supreme Court decision was to be expected, Bayer shares initially responded with significant price drops.
The numerous lawsuits facing Bayer in the US are based in particular on an assessment by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. In 2015, she classified the Monsanto weedkiller as “possibly carcinogenic” to humans. On the other hand, the US environmental protection agency EPA has so far agreed with Bayer and considers glyphosate safe when used properly. The company also argued in the Supreme Court that its weed control agent Roundup was classified by the EPA as safe and that US federal law should not conflict with state court decisions.
But recently, the environmental agency itself has come under legal pressure with its evaluation of glyphosate. On Friday, an appeals court ordered the EPA to re-examine the health risks. In its ruling, it was particularly worrying the judges how the EPA had justified glyphosate not being a carcinogen. The underlying analysis is ‘inadequate’ and not in line with the authority’s guidance. The EPA declined to comment on the criticism when asked to do so. A spokeswoman said the glyphosate decision would be reviewed.
However, recently things have turned in favor of Bayer in lawsuits involving multiple individual US plaintiffs blaming Roundup for their cancers. After losing the group’s first three treatments, he had the fourth successive success on Friday. A jury in Jackson County, Oregon unanimously acquitted Bayer of the cancer charges. “We remain fully committed to the safety of Roundup,” the company said. Bayer has announced that it will “confidently” defend itself in future legal conflicts on this subject. (dpa)