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Following a court order to disclose safety information about the cancer risks with Roundup, Bayer has released a number of glyphosate studies used by it’s Monsanto unit to convince European regulators to declare that the controversial weedkiller is safe.
Bayer released all 107 glyphosate safety studies used by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to justify the determination that exposure to Roundup is supposedly harmless, which has been contradicted by a number of independent studies that suggest users of the weedkiller actually face an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
The data was released after a European Union court ordered the release of the information to the public amid rising concerns about undue influence Monsanto has exerted on regulators in recent years.
Bayer purchased Monsanto last summer, and now owns the Roundup weed killer brand. Despite growing concerns and scientific evidence suggesting that glyphosate and other ingredients may be carcinogenic, Bayer and Monsanto have continued to claim that their product is safe, and do not provide consumers with any warnings or instructions that may reduce the risks associated with exposure.
Last month, the General Court of the European Union issued a ruling that requires the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) to disclose data it used to decide glyphosate is not likely a human carcinogen. The ruling came as the result of two lawsuits, with the most recent filed by four EU lawmakers, including Heidi Hautala, of Finland; Benedek Javor, of Hungary; Michele Rivasi, of France; and Bart Staes, of Belgium. They filed a complaint in May 2017, calling for the EFSA to disclose the data after the agency refused to give them access.
Several months later, in November 2017, the member states of the EU voted to extend the license for glyphosate. The vote passed by only one vote; with that deciding vote coming from Germany, who had previously abstained, and is now the home country of Monsanto, the makers of Roundup, after Bayer purchased the company last year.
In recent years, there have been increasing concerns worldwide about the safety of glyphosate, with thousands of Roundup lawsuits pending in the United States, which have been brought by farmers, landscapers and other consumers diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma following regular exposure to glyphosate.
Regulatory agencies who signed off on the glyphosate safety based on unpublished studies have faced sharp criticism following the release of the “Monsanto Papers”, which were uncovered through the ongoing Roundup litigation, suggesting that Monsanto has manipulated data, had undue influence on regulators and even wrote parts of the EFSA’s glyphosate review.
While there is no indication that the release of data was the direct result of the court’s ruling, which was aimed at the EFSA, the data came out just a couple weeks after the ruling, despite Monsanto having the data available for years. The release also comes only a few weeks after a “bellwether” trial in the U.S. Court system found that Roundup was a substantial factor in causing cancer for a California man.
Bayer and Monsanto face more than 11,000 Roundup lawsuits pending in state and federal courts in the United States, and the company has been hit with a series of massive verdicts in early trials, including a $78 million judgment in California state court in August 2018, and an $80 million verdict last month.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in complaints filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, the federal claims have been centralized as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) before U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California, where several early “bellwether” trial dates were set to go before juries this year to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.
As more individuals continue to learn that Roundup exposure may have caused a non-Hodgkins lymphoma diagnosis in recent years, the size of the litigation that Monsanto faces continues to grow. Following bellwether trials, if the manufacturer fails to reach Roundup settlements or otherwise resolve the litigation, hundreds of individual cases may be set for trial in courts nationwide.