A year after German-based Bayer AG paid $63 billion to acquire chemical company Monsanto, Bayer announced plans to sink an additional $5.6 billion into the company over the next decade to develop new weed killers. Monsanto is the manufacturer of the widely used Roundup, which contains the active ingredient glyphosate, which has been the center of legal battles in the United States involving claims that the chemical causes cancer.
“While glyphosate will continue to play an important role in agriculture and in Bayer’s portfolio, the company is committed to offering more choices for growers,” Bayer said in a statement.
When Bayer purchased Monsanto last year, the company was confident that it could quell attacks on the safety of its herbicide. But just a few months after its acquisition of Monsanto, the company was hit with a $289 million verdict in the first trial to accuse glyphosate in the weed killer of causing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymph system. The award was later reduced to $78 million.
Since then, Bayer and Monsanto have faced two additional trials – one in March that resulted in an $80 million verdict; and one in May, brought by a couple who both developed the disease, which resulted in a $2 billion verdict. To date, an additional 13,000 lawsuits making similar claims are pending.
Bayer continues to defend the safety of its herbicides despite the World Health Organization in 2015 classifying its active ingredient glyphosate as possibly carcinogenic to humans.
Bayer’s announcement comes the same week as reports from an environmental watchdog that tested 21 oat-based cereals and snacks and found traces of glyphosate, most of which had levels of the chemical at levels considered unsafe for children.
Beasley Allen is investigating cases involving non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma related to the commercial application of Roundup/glyphosate. For more information, contact John Tomlinson, Rhon Jones or Grant Cofer in our Toxic Torts Section.