Couple awarded $2 billion after claiming Roundup weed killer caused cancer

Couple awarded $2 billion after claiming Roundup weed killer caused cancer

A jury on Monday ordered agribusiness giant Monsanto Co.to pay a combined $2.055 billion to a couple claiming that the company's popular weed killer Roundup Ready caused their cancers.

The jury in Alameda County, just east of San Francisco, ruled that the couple, Alva and Alberta Pilliod of Livermore, California, contracted non-Hodgkins lymphoma due to their use of the glyphosate-based herbicide. "The contrast between today's verdict and EPA's conclusion that there are "no risks to public health from the current registered uses of glyphosate" could not be more stark".

In a statement, Bayer said it was disappointed with the verdict and would appeal.

The verdict in Oakland includes more than $55 million in compensatory damages to the couple and $2 billion in punitive damages, a statement said.

It awarded $18 million in compensatory and $1 billion in punitive damages to Alva Pilliod, and $37 million in compensatory and $1 billion in punitive damages to his wife, Alberta Pilliod. St. Louis-based Monsanto is owned by the German chemical giant Bayer A.G.

"The cloud hanging over Bayer will only grow bigger and darker, as more juries hear how Monsanto manipulated its own research, colluded with regulators and intimidated scientists to keep secret the cancer risks from glyphosate", said EWG President Ken Cook.

The company said both Alva and Alberta Pilliod had long histories of illnesses known to be substantial risk factors for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. And the company insists there is no link between Roundup and non-Hodgkins's lymphoma. "By now, most Bayer executives, its board and shareholders must all be questioning the decision to acquire Monsanto and its mounting liability over its cancer-causing weedkiller". Both are in remission but testified about lasting damage from the cancer. On appeal a judge later slashed that payout to $78 million.

Monsanto, the maker of Roundup acquired by Bayer last June, is the named defendant in similar US lawsuits filed by at least 13,400 plaintiffs.

The EPA reaffirmed its position in April, saying that the active ingredient glyphosate found in the weed killer posed "no risks of concern" for people exposed to it by any means - on farms, in yards and along roadsides, or as residue left on food crops. The company is appealing the two previous verdicts in Roundup cases, and it said it would appeal this verdict as well. It also remains to be seen how juries in other part of the country react to the evidence in upcoming trials, he said.

"In this case there appeared to be more detailed evidence damaging to Monsanto, which strengthens plaintiffs' cases down the pipeline even further", said Pavlik, who has followed the trials.

"However, we were of the opinion that the reports of these dealings with journalists, politicians and activists are not in order and not in agreement with what Bayer stands for".

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