Monsanto owners call weed killer ‘safe’ after jury orders big payout

By AFP Source:Reuters Published: 2018/8/12 22:13:39

Monsanto's German owners insisted Saturday that the weed killer Roundup was "safe," rejecting a California jury's decision to order the chemical giant to pay nearly $290 million for failing to warn a dying groundskeeper that the product might cause cancer.

While observers predicted thousands of potential future claims against the company in the wake of Monsanto's defeat, Bayer - which recently acquired the US giant - said the California ruling went against scientific evidence.

"On the basis of scientific conclusions, the views of worldwide regulatory authorities and the decades-long practical experience with glyphosate use, Bayer is convinced that glyphosate is safe and does not cause cancer," the company said in a statement.

It said other court proceedings with other juries might "arrive at different conclusions" than the jury which ruled in the California lawsuit, the first to accuse glyphosate of causing cancer.

Jurors unanimously found that Monsanto - which vowed to appeal - acted with "malice" and that its weed killers Roundup and the professional grade version RangerPro contributed "substantially" to Dewayne Johnson's terminal illness.

Johnson, diagnosed in 2014 with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma - a cancer that affects white blood cells - says he repeatedly used a professional form of Roundup while working at a school in Benicia, California.

"The cause is way bigger than me. Hopefully this thing will get the attention it needs," Johnson, 46, said after the verdict.

Johnson wept openly, as did some jurors, when he met with the panel later.

The lawsuit was built on 2015 findings by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the UN World Health Organization, which classified Roundup's main ingredient glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, causing the state of California to follow suit.

"We are sympathetic to Mr Johnson and his family," Monsanto said in a statement, but promised to "continue to vigorously defend this product."

"The jury got it wrong," Monsanto vice president Scott Partridge told reporters.


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