The French government is at odds with several mayors over the use of the controversial weed killer glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. About 20 mayors across the country have banned the use of glyphosate in their municipalities. The government, however, is taking legal action to overrule those bans to allow the use of the herbicide across the country, at least for now.

Glyphosate was developed by Monsanto, which was acquired a year ago by German-owned Bayer. Roundup is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, including in the United States.

In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer listed glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, pointing to studies on farmers exposed to glyphosate who developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Monsanto – and now Bayer – has held firm on the stance that the top-selling weed killer is safe.

In recent years, Monsanto and Bayer have been hit with a growing number of lawsuits alleging glyphosate causes cancer. To date, three cases have gone to trial in the past year, all of which have resulted in multi-million-dollar verdicts for the plaintiffs.

Meanwhile, dozens of countries and municipalities around the world have restricted or banned the use of glyphosate citing health risks. In 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to phase out glyphosate within three years, which went against the European Union’s decision to allow its use at least for another five years. Macron later stepped back, saying a countrywide ban was not possible in that time frame.

The mayors say that a ban is necessary to protect the health of their citizens.

A court is expected to rule on the matter next week.

Beasley Allen is investigating cases involving non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma related to the commercial application of Roundup/glyphosate. For more information, contact John Tomlinson or Rhon Jones in our Toxic Torts Section.

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