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Glyphosate verdict: US court condemns Monsanto to high fine

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Protest against Monsanto at the "We're tired of it" demonstration in Berlin in 2015. Photo c Karin Heinze
Protest against Monsanto at the "We're tired of it" demonstration in Berlin in 2015. Photo c Karin Heinze

A US court in California made a spectacular decision last week. It condemned the new German Bayer subsidiary Monsanto to a "compensation for pain and suffering" equivalent to EUR 254 million for a dying cancer patient.

In the first trial of this kind against the U.S. seed and pesticide company recently acquired by Bayer, the jury found that Monsanto did not give sufficient warning of the risks of its product Round-up. The plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson (46), was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphome in 2014 and is now dying. As groundskeeper at California schools he had regularly used weedkillers containing glyphosate.

Lawsuit avalanche against Bayer-Monsanto expected

This landmark judgment is critical for the Bayer Group because the individual lawsuit appears to be only the beginning of a flood of lawsuits against Monsanto that are still to be expected. A US judge named Vince Chiabria has bundled hundreds of lawsuits into a class action and cleared the way for another trial in July, a German newspaper writes. In any case, the verdict just passed in San Francisco caused Bayer's  share price to plummet: the company lost about EUR 10 billion in market value. Bayer announced that it would appeal.

Green politician Renate Künast and representatives of environmental and organic associations once again called for a comprehensive ban on the use of glyphosate.  For the EU Commission, the ruling is not yet a reason to question the European approval for glyphosate that still exists until 2023. However, the EU member states reserve the right to grant licenses for use or to decide on an earlier phase-out.


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