German chemical giant Bayer will stop selling glyphosate-based herbicides for residential use in the USA starting in 2023, Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) reported on 30 July.
The move was “exclusively geared at managing litigation risk and not because of any safety concerns”, Bayer CEO Werner Baumann said during a 29 July call with investors.
The company would reformulate its glyphosate-based residential weedkiller, sold under the Roundup brand, but did not say what active ingredient it would use.
Bayer has faced more than 125,000 lawsuits in the USA claiming that its glyphosate-based herbicides contributed to their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer. The company inherited the litigation with its US$63bn takeover of global agrochemical firm Monsanto in 2018.
In its 29 July investor call, Bayer said it would allocate an additional US$4.5bn to deal with the lawsuits connected to its Roundup weedkiller.
The allocated funds were in addition to the US$11.6bn that it had previously set aside to fight and settle the Roundup litigation, according to a Bloomberg report on 29 July.
The additional funds updated the company’s “five-point” plan, released in May, for handling future litigation.
Bayer had developed the plan after twice failing to convince a US federal judge to accept a framework for handling future Roundup lawsuits, Bloomberg said. The first, outlined last summer, would have involved setting aside US$1.25bn, later increased to US$2bn.
The company was now appealing to the US Supreme Court in the case of Edwin Hardeman, who testified that his years of Roundup use had caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Hardeman was awarded more than US$80M, later cut to US$25M.
In May, the US Court of Appeals refused to overturn the 2019 decision but Bayer contended that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s authority to regulate herbicide labelling prohibited states from demands that departed from federal requirements, Bloomberg wrote.
The company said the verdict was improperly based on a California law requiring Bayer to warn customers of Roundup’s cancer risk, according to the report, and the EPA had supported the appeal.
“We believe that the US Supreme Court should give strong consideration to accepting our petition to review the case and render a positive ruling,” Baumann told investors.
If Bayer wins the Supreme Court Appeal, the US$4.5bn would not be needed, according to the report. However, the company had acknowledged that its “base case” going forward would involve the use of extra funds, Bloomberg wrote.