WASHINGTON – In a settlement reached today, Bayer AG agreed to pay $10 billion over claims its signature herbicide Roundup causes cancer in people, according to a report by Reuters.
The $10 billion settlement will be apportioned to four leading plaintiffs’ law firms, who will in turn distribute the money to nearly 100,000 clients who were stricken with cancer after prolonged use of the toxic weedkiller.
The German company acquired the St. Louis-based agrochemical giant Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion, and inherited liability in thousands of lawsuits filed by people who claim exposure to Roundup and its main ingredient glyphosate was the cause of their cancer.
EWG President Ken Cook made this statement on the settlement:
Today’s settlement is vindication for all those who have fallen ill with cancer as a result of being exposed to this chemical. No amount of money can reverse the damage Bayer-Monsanto has inflicted on these victims and countless others, but because of their and their attorneys’ tireless fight for justice, the company that exposed them is now paying a heavy price for its duplicitous deception.
The most damning revelations in this case uncovered, through the company’s own internal documents, the extent to which Monsanto-Bayer recognized early on the risk of cancer and other health problems posed by glyphosate and its commercial formulations. Monsanto-Bayer aggressively conspired for decades to withhold or lie about the evidence to the public and to regulators, while relentlessly attacking scientists and organizations that sought to tell the truth about the company’s products.
This damning information only became public because plaintiff’s lawyers pried it out of the company in court and made it public. That coverup killed the company’s integrity as systemically as its chemicals kill plants. Monsanto-Bayer’s dissembling for profit at the expense of public health is a permanent stain on its reputation. Nothing in this settlement amends the conclusion that this is a company that simply cannot be trusted.
Glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the world, was classified in 2015 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as “probably carcinogenic” to people. In 2017, glyphosate was also listed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a chemical known to the state to cause cancer.
Glyphosate is mostly applied to corn, soybean and wheat crops, but is increasingly sprayed just before harvest on oats, chickpeas and other crops as a drying agent, or desiccant, to speed the harvest. The pre-harvest use is why many oat-based cereals are contaminated with glyphosate.
Three separate rounds of laboratory tests commissioned by EWG in 2018 and 2019 found glyphosate in nearly every sample of popular oat-based cereals and other foods marketed to children. The contaminated brands included cereals and breakfast bars made by General Mills and Quaker.
A new EWG testing report, coming next month, will show glyphosate contamination widespread in hummus and chickpeas.
Besides its use in agriculture, millions of Americans spray Roundup on their yards and gardens – a main source of exposure for those who were sickened and sued Bayer-Monsanto. Four people in California have already won their cases in jury trials, including Dewayne Johnson, a Bay Area school groundskeeper.
“Even as we celebrate and congratulate those who made this day possible, millions of people are being exposed to glyphosate through the food they eat, working as groundskeepers or farmworkers, or gardening at home,” Cook said. “Bayer-Monsanto must be held accountable beyond today’s settlement. The Food and Drug Administration must immediately eliminate its use as a pre-harvest desiccant, and the Environmental Protection Agency must ban all home uses. That is the only way to assure future generations of Americans do not get sick or die from exposure to this cancer-causing chemical.”
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action. Visit www.ewg.org for more.