EPA faces lawsuits over reapproval of Roundup chemical

German chemical giant Bayer AG has agreed to pay US$39.6M to settle a class action in the USA over the labelling of its controversial Roundup weedkiller, which contains glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide which has been linked to cancer, Deutsche Welle (DW) reports.

According to documents revealed to a court in Kansas city, Bayer reached an agreement with several plaintiffs but the court must still approve the settlement, DW said on 31 March.

The lawsuit centred on how Monsanto, which Bayer acquired for US$60bn in 2018, failed to list glyphosate’s health risks in Roundup labelling.

The settlement requires an improvement to Roundup labelling, with Bloomberg reporting that language saying that glyphosate only affected an enzyme found in plants had to be removed.
Bayer still faces 48,600 lawsuits in the USA over the alleged cancer risks associated with Roundup.

“This agreement is not related to the Roundup product liability litigation, for which the parties continue to mediate in good faith,” Bayer said.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been sued by multiple groups over its January decision to re-approve glyphosate, thehill.com reported.

One lawsuit against the EPA was filed on behalf of the Center for Food Safety (CFS), Beyond Pesticides, the Rural Coalition, Organización en California de Lideres Campesinas, and the Farmworker Association of Florida.

“EPA’s half-completed, biased, and unlawful approval sacrifices the health of farmworkers and endangered species at the altar of Monsanto profits,” CFS legal director George Kimbrell was quoted by thehill.com as saying in a statement. “The reckoning for Roundup is coming.”

An EPA official declined to comment, saying that the agency did not comment on pending litigation.

In re-approving the chemical earlier this year, the EPA said “there was insufficient evidence to conclude that glyphosate plays a role in any human diseases”.

It did find that glyphosate presented “low or limited potential risks” in birds and mammals.

Glyphosate is the most commonly used herbicide among farmers.

Bayer has consistently claimed that Roundup can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic.

In a statement, the company called the EPA's review of glyphosate "extremely robust".

"For more than 40 years, the EPA has concluded that glyphosate does not pose unreasonable risks to non-target species when glyphosate is used as directed," the company said.