German chemicals giant Bayer takes huge nosedive after Roundup weedkiller cancer lawsuit

Monday, August 13, 2018
By Paul Martin

SHARES in German firm Bayer plunged more than 10 percent to their lowest in almost two years after a California jury ordered the chemicals giant’s company’s subsidiary Monsanto to pay £226million ($289million) in damages last week. A jury found Monsanto liable in a lawsuit alleging that the company’s glyphosate-based weedkillers, including its Roundup brand, caused cancer.
Mon, Aug 13, 2018

The case against Monsanto, which Bayer acquired this year for £50bn ($63bn), is the first of more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the United States.

Monsanto said on Friday that it would appeal against the verdict.

It said in a statement: “Today’s decision does not change the fact that more than 800 scientific studies and reviews … support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer.”

Bayer shares were down 10.6 percent at 83.48 euros at 0728 GMT, against a 0.6 decline for the DAX index.

In Europe the EU Commission in December renewed the licence for glyphosate despite intense debate over its safety, though Germany and France have taken steps to phase out use of the weedkiller.

Originally an exclusive Monsanto brand, patent-free glyphosate herbicides are now sold by the global crop-protection industry.

American resident Dwayne Johnson, 46, was awarded the bumper payout after it was found the company did not “adequately warn” of the risks.

The jury found the firm acted with “malice and oppression” in selling the product despite risks being known, causing a “substantial factor” in Mr Johnson’s cancer.

Mr Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014 after using Roundup and another Monsanto product called Ranger Pro while working in San Francisco.

Monsanto vice president Scott Partridge hit back at the jury’s finding on Friday evening. He said: ”Roundup has been safe for four decades and will continue to be safe.

There is no credible scientific evidence that demonstrates otherwise.

“It is completely and totally safe and the public should not be concerned about this verdict, it is one that we will work through the legal process to see if we can get the right result. The science is crystal clear.”

But the company’s protestations could not stop the shares tumbling when markets opened this morning.

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