Number of Bayer Lawsuits May Increase to 45,000

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

Bayer lawsuits

Story at-a-glance

  • Since Bayer acquired Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion, they’ve faced litigation that glyphosate-containing Roundup caused health problems, including cancer
  • Approximately 18,400 U.S. lawsuits from individuals alleging that glyphosate caused them to develop cancer have already been filed
  • Bayer expects the glyphosate/cancer lawsuits to increase, and analysts at JP Morgan suggested the number of glyphosate lawsuits may surpass 45,000
  • Internal Monsanto emails released during the glyphosate trials suggest Monsanto-affiliated scientists questioned the chemical’s safety
  • Germany announced it would be banning glyphosate by the end of 2023, with the phase-out starting even sooner


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Since Bayer acquired Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion, they've been grappling with lawsuits alleging their (formerly Monsanto's) glyphosate-containing Roundup caused health problems, including cancer. Approximately 18,400 U.S. lawsuits from individuals alleging that glyphosate caused them to develop cancer have already been filed,1 but Bayer expects this to rise sharply.

In a written statement shared by Reuters, Bayer said, "With the substantial increase in plaintiff advertising this year, we expect to see a significant surge in the number of plaintiff filings over the third quarter."

In August 2018, jurors ruled Monsanto must pay $289 million in damages to DeWayne "Lee" Johnson, a former school groundskeeper who claimed the company's herbicide Roundup caused his terminal cancer.2 The award was later slashed to $78 million,3 but it signaled the beginning of a running trend in Roundup cancer lawsuits — one that was not missed by attorneys.

Advertisements rounding up people who may have been harmed by this ubiquitous chemical are plentiful, and analysts at JP Morgan suggested the number of glyphosate lawsuits may surpass 45,000.4

Will Glyphosate Lawsuits Reach a Settlement?

According to Bayer, the rise in glyphosate lawsuit filings "may reflect a campaign by plaintiffs' lawyers and lead generators to increase the volume of plaintiffs as quickly as possible in connection with" settlement negotiations.

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria5 ordered attorneys for Bayer and the plaintiffs to meet for settlement talks, appointing attorney Kenneth Feinberg as the mediator.6 Feinberg has been involved in dispute resolutions in a number of high-stakes cases, including for victims of September 11th and the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Bayer said it will act in "good faith" and participate in the mediation, but initially said it doesn't plan to negotiate until its appeals have run their course, a process that could take years. Bayer also continues to defend glyphosate's safety, and said it expects U.S. appeals courts to reverse or "tone down" the first three court rulings they lost.7

After Johnson's case, a judge ruled in favor of another plaintiff, Edwin Hardeman,8 who alleged his repeated exposures to Roundup, which he used to kill weeds on his 56-acre property, caused him to develop cancer.

Bayer was ordered to pay more than $80 million in this case, which also found Monsanto failed to warn consumers that the product carried a cancer risk. Hardeman was awarded $75 million in punitive damages, $5.6 million in compensatory damages and $200,000 for medical expenses, but a judge slashed the amount to $20 million.

When the compensatory damages are factored in, Bayer owes Hardeman $25,267,634, down from the original $80 million.9 In a similar trend, the third Monsanto Roundup case involved a married couple, Alva and Alberta Pilliod, who both developed Non-Hodgkin lymphoma after regular use of Roundup.

The jury ordered Bayer to pay $2 billion in punitive and compensatory damages,10 but the company appealed, asking the judge to throw out the verdict, claiming it wasn't supported by the evidence.11 While the verdict wasn't thrown out, the judge said the punitive damages, which make up the majority of the award, should be reduced.

Additional trials continue to be postponed until 2020, including the first set in the area of Monsanto's former hometown, St. Louis, Missouri. According to U.S. Right to Know:12

"The mysterious delay of what was supposed to be a closely watched St. Louis showdown over claims that Monsanto's Roundup herbicides cause cancer has stirred speculation that a settlement may be in the offing and heartened investors in Monsanto's German owner Bayer, who feared a fourth trial loss.

The trial in St. Louis … was set to begin Aug. 19 and feature live testimony from several Monsanto executives subpoenaed by the legal team representing plaintiff Sharlean Gordon.

Gordon is one of roughly 18,000 plaintiffs suing Monsanto alleging not only that the company's glyphosate-based herbicides cause Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and that the company knew about the risks but rather than warning users instead acted to suppress and manipulate scientific research."

Internal Emails Show Monsanto Questioned Glyphosate's Safety

To the public, Monsanto long stated that glyphosate was safe for people and the environment. Glyphosate — identified as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 201513 — is now the most heavily used agricultural chemical in history. In 2016, Midwest farmers used an estimated 188.7 million pounds of glyphosate, a fortyfold increase from 1992.14

However, internal Monsanto emails released during the glyphosate trials paint a much more sordid picture, one in which Monsanto-affiliated scientists question the chemical's safety. As reported by Medtruth:15

"In a 2014 email exchange, Monsanto toxicologist Donna Farmer warned a company spokesperson to not call glyphosate safe. 'We cannot say it [glyphosate] is 'safe' … we can say history of safe use, used safely etc,' Farmer wrote.

She encouraged the spokesperson to instead call the chemical 'one of the most thoroughly tested herbicides,' and one that 'poses no unreasonable risks to people' when used according to directions."

Further, Monsanto consultants and epidemiologists specifically warned against stating there's "no evidence" that glyphosate causes cancer, while company emails suggest Roundup had never been tested to see if it causes cancer in people, despite company claims that it was safe.

Germany to Ban Glyphosate by 2023

When the EU's approval period for glyphosate ends in 2023, Germany announced it would be banning the chemical, with the phase-out starting even sooner.16 Germany's decision to ban the chemical is based on its effects on insect populations, including pollinators that support the food supply.

Worldwide, more than 40% of insect species are threatened with extinction in the next few decades.17 Overall, the total mass of insects is said to be falling by a "shocking" 2.5% a year. If this rate continues unchecked, insects could disappear within 100 years.18

"It is very rapid. In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none," researcher Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, told The Guardian. The study, published in Biological Conservation,19 is but one to suggest that chemicals like glyphosate could be harming insects.

Researchers cited compelling evidence that agricultural intensification is the main driver of population declines in birds, small mammals and insects. In order of importance, habitat loss due to land converted to intensive agriculture, as well as urbanization, are major problems.

The next most significant contributor named is pollution, primarily that from synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. For instance, a 2017 study published in the journal Ecography noted a strong connection between large-scale Monarch deaths and glyphosate application.20,21

The Guardian quoted Germany's environment minister Svenja Schulze, who stated, "What harms insects also harms people … What we need is more humming and buzzing … a world without insects is not worth living in."22

In the first phase of the ban, starting in 2020, glyphosate will be prohibited in city parks and private gardens. Use of glyphosate will also be banned in areas with rich biodiversity, such as grasslands, orchard meadows and some river and lake shores.23 Not surprisingly, Bayer objected to the ban, arguing glyphosate is "an important tool for ensuring both the sustainability and productivity of agriculture."24

Glyphosate May Trigger Aggressive Breast Cancer

While the glyphosate trials heard so far have focused on Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, there is evidence that glyphosate may also cause other types of cancer, including breast cancer. Research published in Frontiers in Genetics found glyphosate exposure in low concentrations (in parts per trillion) may induce cancer in cells when combined with microRNA-182-5p (miR182-5p).25

MicroRNA-182-5p is a gene regulatory molecule found in everyone, and overexpression of the molecule has been linked to cancer. Michael Antoniou of King's College London, who peer reviewed the study, stated, "These observations highlight for the first time a possible biomarker of glyphosate activity at the level of gene expression that could be linked with breast cancer formation."26

Study author Sophie Lelièvre of Purdue's College of Veterinary Medicine, added, "What was particularly alarming about the tumor growth was that it wasn't the usual type of breast cancer we see in older women. It was the more aggressive form found in younger women, also known as luminal B cancer."27

Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has also noted that the increase in glyphosate usage in the U.S., as well as in Canada, is extremely well correlated with the concurrent increase in the incidence of multiple diseases, including breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid cancer, liver cancer, bladder cancer and myeloid leukemia.28

Cut Your Glyphosate Exposure Now

If you're still using glyphosate (found in Roundup and other formulations) in your yard, stopping is one simple way to reduce your exposure to this toxic chemical. To avoid glyphosate in your food, choose organic or biodynamically grown foods, which are neither genetically engineered nor sprayed with glyphosate as a desiccant. This includes foods such as oats, which are often contaminated with glyphosate residues.

Also, invest in a good water filtration system for your home to lower exposure that may occur via drinking water. If you're interested, the Health Research Institute (HRI) in Iowa developed the glyphosate urine test kit, which will allow you to determine your exposure to this herbicide. They're also in the process of doing hair testing for glyphosate, which is a better test for long-term exposure.

If it turns out that you have measurable levels of glyphosate in your body, Seneff shared some tips for detoxing glyphosate, including consuming organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, as it contains acetobacter, one of the few substances known to break down glyphosate.

Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, who is a specialist in metal toxicity and its connection to chronic infections, also recommends taking 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of glycine powder twice a day for a few weeks and then lower the dose to one-fourth teaspoon (1 gram) twice a day. This forces the glyphosate out of your system, allowing it to be eliminated through your urine.


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