German chemicals giant Bayer has reportedly reached verbal agreements to settle up to 85,000 of the 125,000 cancer lawsuits pending over the use of Monsanto Co’s Roundup weedkiller, the Independent reported sources familiar with the negotiations as saying on 26 May.
The deals were part of a US$10bn (£8.1bn) plan to end the Roundup lawsuits the company had inherited when it bought US agrochemicals company Monsanto in 2018, the sources were reported as saying.
Out of the total plan, US$8bn would cover current lawsuits, and US$2bn would be reserved for future claims from people who had used Roundup but may not have developed cancer yet.
Bayer was likely to announce the settlements, which needed approval from the supervisory board, in June, the sources said.
The company declined to comment on the negotiations but in an emailed statement, Chris Loder, a US-based spokesman, said Bayer had made ‘progress in the mediations’ arising from the lawsuits.
The settlements were designed to resolve claims that Roundup, whose active ingredient was the chemical glyphosate, had caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in some users, the Independent wrote.
Bayer had denied that Roundup or glyphosate caused cancer, a position backed by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The first Roundup verdict had come from a state court jury in California, which held Monsanto liable for a former groundskeeper’s lymphoma in 2018 and awarded him US$289M in damages.
The jury ruled that Dewayne Johnson had contracted cancer from years of exposure to Monsanto’s glyphosate-containing Roundup and Ranger Pro herbicides and that the company had neglected to warn him and others of the cancer risk. The amount awarded to Johnson was later cut by a judge to US$78.5M.
Bayer has consistently claimed that Roundup can be used safely and that glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide among farmers, is not carcinogenic.