Published: Wed, August 15, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Bayer shares nosedive after Monsanto weedkiller cancer ruling

Bayer shares nosedive after Monsanto weedkiller cancer ruling

There are now more than 5,000 similar lawsuits in the US against Monsanto's weed killers, according to Reuters, with Johnson's trial coming first because doctors claimed that he was close to dying. "As this case proceeds, Bayer believes courts ultimately will find that Monsanto and glyphosate were not responsible for Mr. Johnson's illness".

Monsanto said it will appeal the verdict, adding that more than 800 scientific studies and reviews support its claim that glyphosate, the ingredient used in Roundup, does not cause cancer.

But the World Health Organization's cancer arm had in 2015 classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans" and earlier this month Brazil suspended the use of the chemical for 30 days while it weighs health concerns. "You did something wrong and now you have to pay, '" said Brent Wisner, Johnson's lead trial lawyer. The company, whose market value fell by more than $11.4 billion Monday, August 13, says Roundup is safe.

Australia's National Farmers' Federation has rejected the finding of a United States court that the weedkiller Roundup causes cancer, saying it set a "reckless precedent" that could harm agriculture.

Partridge, meanwhile, announced that Monsanto had no intention of settling the slew of similar cases in the legal queue.

Macquarie Bank analysts estimate Nufarm earns about a fifth of its revenue from products containing glyphosate, the world's most widely-used herbicide.

"The Johnson vs Monsanto verdict is a win for all of humanity and all life on earth", said Zen Honeycutt, founding Executive Director of non-profit group Moms Across America.

Emma Hockridge, head of policy at the Soil Association, said the "landmark" ruling in the U.S. highlighted the "problem with relying on chemical pesticides globally as so little is known about the long-term environmental and health impacts".

Throughout the proceedings, attorneys for Johnson told the court that Monsanto's negligence has amounted to a death sentence for their client, as doctors have now given him less than two-years to live after regularly working with Roundup and the weed-killing chemical Range Pro over a three year window. To this day, there are strong voices in Europe still calling for the product's licence to be withdrawn altogether, not least France's president Emmanuel Macron.

Most other scientific bodies, however, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have found that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.

Monsanto, bought by Bayer this year for $63 billion, said that it would appeal against the jury's verdict in California, which is the latest episode in a long-running debate over claims that exposure to Roundup can cause cancer.

Monsanto launched Roundup in 1976 and soon thereafter began genetically modifying plants, making some resistant to Roundup.

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