Bayer withdraws from US settlement proceedings

The German chemical company, whose US subsidiary Monsanto Roundup produces, is no longer involved in legal proceedings for possible future plaintiffs. The sale of the herbicide to US private customers is also being scrutinized.

Bayer withdraws from the settlement proceedings in the dispute over the herbicide Roundup.

Dhe German chemical company Bayer is getting out of a US settlement procedure for possible future plaintiffs in the dispute over the glyphosate-containing weed killer Roundup – and is putting the sale of Roundup to US private customers to the test. The company announced on Thursday night after a federal judge in San Francisco rejected the proposal for an agreement between Bayer and plaintiff attorneys for cancer patients.

“The decision makes it impossible to further develop the proposed national solution mechanism under the supervision of this court, which would have been the fairest and most efficient solution for all parties,” said Bayer.

The Leverkusen-based group, whose US subsidiary Monsanto Roundup produces, instead presented a “five-point plan for effectively dealing with potential future glyphosate lawsuits”. This encompasses “legal and commercial measures which, in total, create similar security with regard to possible future lawsuits”.

Sales to professional users continue

As a step, Bayer announced that it would be reviewing its range of glyphosate-containing herbicides such as Roundup for US private customers. “The company will continue to be active in the US private customer market, but will immediately discuss the future of glyphosate-based products in this market with partners,” said the company. “These discussions do not concern the availability of glyphosate-based products for professional users and agriculture.”

Bayer is also planning a website “with scientific studies on the safety of glyphosate-based products” and wants to apply to the US environmental protection agency (EPA) to be able to print a corresponding note on the labels of Roundup products. At the same time, the group is “open to settlement negotiations” and wants to continue ongoing appeal procedures.

The company announced a conference call for investors, analysts and the media for Thursday. This should start at 8.30 a.m. (CEST). Among others, CEO Werner Baumann will take part.

Bayer bought Monsanto – and with it a problem

Bayer had bought the US agricultural company Monsanto in 2018 for around 54 billion euros. The dispute over its weed killer Roundup is a legal and financial burden for the Leverkusen group to this day.

Bayer wants to settle the legal disputes over a possible carcinogenic effect of Roundup with compensation payments amounting to around eleven billion dollars. Of this, approximately $ 9 billion is earmarked for up to 125,000 plaintiffs whose lawsuits have already been filed or are in preparation. Two billion dollars are earmarked for possible future lawsuits.

However, Federal Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco rejected the proposed solution to these potential future lawsuits on Wednesday. The agreement is simply “unreasonable” for possible future cancer patients. The agreement would “achieve a lot” for the Bayer subsidiary Monsanto, the judge wrote in his decision. “It would do a lot less for Roundup users who have not yet been diagnosed with (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) NHL.”

Huge compensation payments

Chhabria had already criticized a settlement proposal as inadequate last year. Last week, he then examined an improved proposal that Bayer and the plaintiffs’ attorneys had agreed on in February.

Bayer has been sentenced to high compensation payments in the USA in three cancer lawsuits after using Roundup. It was not until mid-May that a federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld a conviction of the company to pay around 25 million dollars in damages to a plaintiff suffering from cancer.

The group denies that the weed killer is carcinogenic. The question is controversial in research. The US environmental protection agency EPA as well as the supervisory authorities in the EU and Germany have come to the conclusion that glyphosate does not pose a cancer risk. On the other hand, the International Agency for Cancer Research, which belongs to the World Health Organization (WHO), stated in 2015 that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic in humans”.