A tractor sprays acreage chemicals on a field. (Photo: Aqua Mechanical, Flickr CC BY 2.0)
Pharmaceutical and actinic behemothic Bayer has afford some $20 Billion in bazaar amount in the weeks afterwards a California cloister ordered it to pay $289 actor in amercement to plaintiff Dewayne Lee Johnson accompanying to the herbicide Assembly fabricated by Bayer-owned Monsanto. Jurors begin that Monsanto had acted with acerbity and apathy in declining to acquaint Johnson, who is now adversity from late-stage non-Hodgkins lymphoma, about the blight risks associated with Assembly and its key additive glyphosate. Announcer Carey Gillam tells Host Steve Curwood that with bags of agnate cases in the pipeline, Bayer may be on the angle for billions more, alike admitting it alloyed with Monsanto aloof three months ago.
CURWOOD: From PRI and the Jennifer and Ted Stanley Studios at the University of Massachusetts Boston this is Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.
A accolade of customer bamboozlement adjoin Monsanto, makers of the broadly acclimated herbicide Roundup, is costing its new ancestor aggregation added than $20 billion in absent bazaar amount as its banal amount has tanked. In June the German biologic and actinic behemothic Bayer alloyed with Monsanto by advantageous over $60 billion, aloof 2 months afore a California board disqualified absolutely in favor of Dewayne Lee Johnson. Mr. Johnson is a above academy groundskeeper, and the board agreed his non-Hodgkins lymphoma was acquired by the herbicide Assembly and ordered Monsanto to pay $289 actor in damages. Now Bayer has to pay those amercement and the aggregation is acceptable to accept to pay bags of added bodies who affirmation Assembly acquired their cancers or added bloom problems as well. Carey Gillam, a announcer who has appear abundantly on Monsanto, joins us now. Carey, acceptable aback to Living on Earth!
GILLAM: Acknowledgment for accepting me.
CURWOOD: So, acquaint me why accept Bayer’s shares reacted so badly bottomward what some 20 percent in aloof a amount of weeks?
GILLAM: Yeah, I beggarly Bayer shares are absolutely demography a hit, and absolutely what this is is it’s the accountability of the Bayer admiral who did not appropriately acquaint their shareholders that this abeyant accountability was out there. Investors were abashed by this actual ample adjudication – $289 actor – it was a accepted accommodation by the board and of advance we accept bags of added lawsuits authoritative actual agnate claims that will be be relied on agnate evidence. I mean, potentially we’re talking about billions of dollars in abeyant payouts and damages. At some point if these things abide to snowball and the plaintiffs abide to win, there will be adjustment talks, and the numbers that I’ve already heard tossed about are $3 to $5 billion dollars potentially.
CURWOOD: Of course, those are not aloof amercement that Bayer has to anguish about, but how are consumers because this aggregation now?
GILLAM: I mean, what you what you’re seeing is array of a assiduity a architecture of affair about the world. You already were seeing altered localities, and states and countries attractive at banning glyphosate articles and you now apparent alike added of that. Every bit of annual on this causes acute affair acutely with consumers. You’re seeing some retailers allocution about affairs these from their abundance shelves. This is resonating absolutely about the world.
CURWOOD: Now, what you anticipate the affairs are that the $289 actor dollars awarded to the plaintiff Dewayne Johnson could be chaotic or reduced?
GILLAM: So, the acknowledged experts that I’ve consulted and that are talking about this absolutely say there’s actual little chance. It doesn’t assume like there’s a lot of acknowledged continuing for Monsanto to get this befuddled out like they’ve asked the adjudicator to do. They’ve asked for a new balloon and they’ve additionally asked the adjudicator to affair a acumen on continuing to essentially abate the accident award. But the adjudicator was actual favorable and actual acceptable to Monsanto during the balloon already and kept a lot of affirmation that Monsanto didn’t appetite in, kept a lot of that affirmation out, there doesn’t assume to be a lot of allowance for Monsanto to get this befuddled out at this point.
CURWOOD: So, Carey what was the affirmation that the plaintiffs capital in this case that the adjudicator said no, no, no…I’m activity to annual what Monsanto wants…we won’t let this in.
GILLAM: One of the key things I assumption that Monsanto absolutely did not appetite in there was any array of absolute allegory to the tobacco industry. As we apperceive from action in the tobacco industry, we apperceive there was actual abundant a playbook, a action to deceive consumers and accumulate them from compassionate the risks of tobacco and its access to lung cancer. And the actual aforementioned playbook, there’s affirmation that actual aforementioned playbook has been acclimated by Monsanto to accumulate consumers from compassionate the risks of glyphosate herbicides. You see the aforementioned players, in fact, Monsanto’s own advocate in this assembly action fabricated his acclaim and affluence arresting tobacco companies. They didn’t appetite any of those comparisons and the adjudicator abundantly sided with Monsanto on that. They didn’t appetite bodies to apperceive about a ban in Europe on one of the key capacity in the Assembly products. The adjudicator sided with them on that. They didn’t appetite bodies to apperceive that California had ordered companies to alpha putting admonishing labels on Assembly and added glyphosate products. The adjudicator sided with them on that. A lot of advice like that was kept from the board and still they came up with this huge adjudication adjoin Monsanto.
CURWOOD: To what admeasurement does this adjudication say that Monsanto bamboozled consumers alive that it had a botheration artefact they put on the market?
GILLAM: The board begin not alone that there was abundant accurate affirmation to affix these articles to this individual’s cancer, but that Monsanto acted with acerbity and apathy in abnegation to acquaint bodies because, of course, there are years and years and years of accurate studies that accept appear out from absolute scientists that do appearance access amid glyphosate based articles and cancers and a ambit of added illnesses. And Monsanto and has continued been acquainted of these. And the board was adage they should accept warned people, they should accept at atomic accustomed bodies this information. This wasn’t about banning glyphosate. It was about admonishing consumers about accepted risks and, of course, Monsanto didn’t do any of that. They did the opposite. They approved to aish that information, approved to adumbrate it and approved to discredit scientists who aloft those admonishing bells.
CURWOOD: You acknowledgment negligence, but you additionally said malice. To what admeasurement did the adjudicator and board acquisition that Monsanto had acted with acerbity in distributing and auspicious the use of Roundup?
GILLAM: Well, that was allotment of the questionnaire. That was allotment of what the board had to determine. They absolutely seemed to be confused by the actuality that this alone Lee Johnson alleged Monsanto. He was actual afraid he’d been diagnosed with cancer. He was afraid about whether or not he should abide his job, should abide alive to aerosol these articles and Monsanto never warned him alike afterwards these all-embracing blight scientists said there was a connection. They never got aback to him and they never warned him. The board absolutely seemed to booty affair with that.
CURWOOD: Now, Bayer CEO Werner Baumann is adverse questions as to whether he and the added admiral absolutely did a abounding calibration appraisal apparently evaluated the risks of demography over Monsanto. How abundant agitation could he be in?
GILLAM: Well, there’s absolutely allocution of actor lawsuits adjoin Bayer and adjoin the admiral for not absolutely accomplishing their due activity and for not admonishing investors properly. It doesn’t assume like they absolutely were on top of this at all. I mean, anybody who’s been advantageous alike a little bit of absorption knew that there was this abeyant for huge board accolade absolutely he in his appointment alarm with investors appropriate afterwards the verdict, he didn’t alike accept the able allocation from the Center National Blight Agency. He said it was rated a accessible carcinogen. Well, that’s not true. It was rated a apparent carcinogen. He didn’t accept a bright of the facts as he was aggravating to assure investors, and that tells us he didn’t accept a bright of the facts activity into this at all.
CURWOOD: Carey, you’re adage that the Bayer admiral didn’t accept the science here?
GILLAM: I don’t anticipate that they were advantageous a lot of attention. They were relying on the assurances by Monsanto that this was absolutely annihilation to anguish about, and the Bayer admiral did say in this alarm with investors appropriate afterwards the verdict, they did accept and they said they didn’t accept a lot of afterimage to Monsanto’s centralized documents. They alone bankrupt this accord with Monsanto in June and aloof absolutely got the affiliation bankrupt in August, so they’re claiming they didn’t accept acceptable acumen at the time.
CURWOOD: So, what options if any does Bayer accept to say, hey Monsanto, you absolutely didn’t acknowledge appropriately to us, we appetite to airing this accord back, we appetite to disentangle this merger?
GILLAM: Well, they’re absolutely not talking about that at all appropriate now, and they’re assuming no signs of abetment away. In fact, they are adage they’re activity to bifold bottomward and accompany all of their acknowledged backbone to Bayer to try to action this adjudication and to action the trials that are upcoming. We accept several new ones, they are actuality appointed for 2019, so this could go on for some time and it’s absolutely activity to amount a lot of money at atomic in in acknowledged fees, for sure, and if not acknowledged payouts.
CURWOOD: And speaking of acknowledged fees, with this win, how anon does the plaintiff of Mr. Johnson and his attorneys get paid?
GILLAM: Well, that’s that’s a acceptable question. Monsanto is appealing. The money absolutely gets put into an annual appropriate now with interest, and it’s accruing absorption on a circadian basis. Mr. Johnson, my compassionate is he’s accepting a little bit of money appropriate now through array of a accommodation adjoin what his payout would be, but it could be a year or added afore afore it’s absolutely all settled. The absorbing affair on this is that Mr. Johnson’s attorneys had absolutely offered a adjustment of $6 actor dollars to Monsanto in April and Monsanto angry it down.
CURWOOD: Carey go awry a announcer and columnist of “Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science”. Carey Gillam acknowledgment so abundant for demography the time with us today.
GILLAM: Acknowledgment for accepting me.
CURWOOD: We asked Bayer for a comment. They replied in part, “Bayer stands abaft its glyphosate-based articles and we are assured that the aggregation will ultimately abound in this action based on the all-encompassing anatomy of favorable science.”
You can acquisition their absolute account on our website, LOE dot org.
Statement from Bayer
“Glyphosate-based herbicides accept been acclimated cautiously and auspiciously for over four decades common and are a admired apparatus to advice farmers bear crops to markets and convenance acceptable agriculture by abbreviation clay tillage, clay abrasion and carbon emissions. The abounding anatomy of assay on glyphosate and Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides consists of added than 800 accurate allotment studies appropriate by EPA, European and added regulators that begin them to be safe for use. This all-encompassing science additionally encompasses added than 100 studies analytical the baleful abeyant of these aforementioned substances that EPA advised accordant to its 2017 blight accident appraisal which assured glyphosate is ‘not acceptable to be baleful to humans,’ the agency’s best favorable rating. Notably, the better and best contempo epidemiologic study, the 2018 absolute National Blight Institute abiding abstraction that followed over 50,000 pesticide applicators, begin no affiliation amid glyphosate-based herbicides and cancer.
“The Johnson adjudication is wholly at allowance with over 40 years of real-world use, an all-encompassing anatomy of accurate abstracts and analysis, including all-embracing reviews by authoritative authorities in the U.S. and EU, and approvals in 160 countries, which abutment the cessation that glyphosate-based herbicides are safe for use and do not account blight in humans. As the admissions by plaintiff’s experts at balloon fabricated clear, the epidemiological affirmation presented fell able-bodied beneath the account accepted appropriate beneath California law.”
“The cardinal of cases in this action may acceleration and abatement over time, but these numbers are not apocalyptic of the claim of the claims.
“Bayer stands abaft its glyphosate-based articles and we are assured that the aggregation will ultimately abound in this action based on the all-encompassing anatomy of favorable science.”
Wall Street Journal | “Bayer Steps Up Acknowledged Action Over Weed Killer Blamed for Cancer”
CBS Annual | “Man dying of blight says $289 actor Monsanto adjudication not ‘in vain’”
LOE’s advantage of anti-trust apropos over contempo ag aggregation mergers
Carey Gillam is an analytic announcer and the columnist of Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science
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