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Man looking at Roundup in a hardware store.

A customer Gary Harms shops for Roundup products at a store in San Rafael, California, on July, 9, 2018. (Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

Supreme Court Hearing Likely as 'Reckless' Bayer Loses Third Appeal Over Glyphosate Use

"Monsanto deserves to be punished for decades of hiding the truth about Roundup."

Julia Conley

Chemical giant Bayer lost its third consecutive appeal in a case over its use of glyphosate in the popular weed killer Roundup late Monday, in the latest victory for tens of thousands of people who have filed claims saying their use of the carcinogenic herbicide caused them to develop cancers. 
 
A California appeals court ruled that Bayer, which purchased U.S. agrochemical company Monsanto in 2018, is responsible for the non-Hodgkins lymphoma that Alva and Alberta Pilliod developed after using Roundup for years, and will have to pay the couple $86 million in accordance with a trial judge's ruling in 2019.

"Monsanto's conduct evidenced reckless disregard of the health and safety of the multitude of unsuspecting consumers it kept in the dark."
—1st Appellate District in the Court of Appeal for California

 
The ruling brings the company a step closer to seeking a favorable verdict from the U.S. Supreme Court.
 
The Pilliods provided "substantial evidence from which the jury could infer that Monsanto acted with willful disregard for the safety of others," the 1st Appellate District in the Court of Appeal for California ruled. "Monsanto's conduct evidenced reckless disregard of the health and safety of the multitude of unsuspecting consumers it kept in the dark. This was not an isolated incident; Monsanto's conduct involved repeated actions over a period of many years motivated by the desire for sales and profit."
 
Mike Miller, a lawyer for the couple, called the court's decision “well reasoned and correct."
 
"Monsanto deserves to be punished for decades of hiding the truth about Roundup," Miller told Bloomberg. 
 
Carey Gillam, research director for U.S. Right to Know, applauded the strong language used by the appeals court, which accused Bayer of presenting evidence in its favor "rather than fairly stating all the relevant evidence."
 
The company claimed the verdict "could not be reconciled with sound science," and noted that the U.S. government has not classified glyphosate as carcinogenic.
 
Although the World Health Organization said in 2015 that glyphosate is a "probable" carcinogen, the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. has claimed that including a warning of cancer-causing risk on Roundup's label would amount to a "false claim." In 2017, the National Institutes of Health released a study acknowledging that high levels of exposure to Roundup was associated with some cancers.
 
Bayer is expected to ask the Supreme Court this month to take up a Roundup-related case it lost in 2019.
 
A fourth trial over Roundup began in San Bernardino, California last week. The company is facing tens of thousands of claims and has set aside more than $16 billion to settle the cases. It also announced as part of a settlement deal with plaintiffs last year that it will stop using glyphosate in its weedkillers that are marketed to homeowners by 2023.
 
Bayer plans to continue using glyphosate in herbicides for farmers, who use the chemicals heavily.
 
The case the company plans to take to the Supreme Court was brought by Edwin Hardeman, who was awarded $25 million. An appeals court upheld the verdict in May.

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