California Supreme Court Upholds Roundup Ruling Against Monsanto

California Supreme Court Upholds $86.2 Million Roundup Ruling Against Monsanto 

Jury verdict stands for couple who claim they developed cancer after spraying Roundup for decades

Monsanto Co. lost its challenge of $86.2 million in damages awarded to a couple who used Roundup and subsequently developed cancer, the Associated Press reports. The Supreme Court of California refused to review the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco’s August ruling in favor of Alva and Alberta Pilliod. The court’s 2-1 ruling found that the herbicide manufacturer knowingly marketed its product that potentially contained a dangerous ingredient. 

The lawyer for the plaintiffs, who had sprayed Roundup in their yards for 30 years, has urged Monsanto to cease its “frivolous appeals” of a verdict that stemmed from “unanimous law” and “solid science,” according to AP News.

What is Bayer’s response to the Roundup lawsuits?

Bayer purchased Roundup manufacturer Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion. Since then, thousands of lawsuits from plaintiffs have plagued the German multinational pharmaceutical and life sciences company, alleging that Roundup exposure caused them to develop cancer. 

With an eye toward turning off the spigot of legal actions, Bayer announced in July 2021 its plans to cease sales of its current Roundup products for home and garden use in 2023. This move will affect only U.S. markets. The company further stated its plans to substitute another active ingredient for glyphosate in these home and garden products. The mystery ingredient is subject to approval, and Bayer will still sell its prize weedkiller for farm applications. 

Still, the company maintains that Roundup is safe.

Evidence of research misconduct

It did nothing for Bayer when Elsevier’s Science Digest published findings from declassified court documents showing that Monsanto had corrupted the scientific review process, blurring the line that connects glyphosate to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other illnesses. 

According to the publication, Monsanto paid for so-called independent testimony and ghostwrote papers about glyphosate’s safety to keep regulatory bodies at bay. 

Where the lawsuits stand today

In 2020, Bayer announced its allocation of $10 billion for settling tens of thousands of Roundup cancer lawsuits. Around 125,000 claims have been settled to date, amounting to $9.6 billion. However, about 30,000 cases have yet to be resolved. 

The decision to set aside these funds came on the heels of Monsanto losing three consecutive trials—losses that cost the company $2.4 billion in total damages. 

The possible dangers of Roundup’s glyphosate

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in widely used herbicides like Roundup. The substance has been registered as a pesticide since 1974. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), glyphosate has been linked to various respiratory problems. In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified the substance as “probably” carcinogenic to humans. 

The conclusion arose from the IARC’s review of about 1,000 studies, many of which involved exposure to glyphosate through subjects’ work as farmers and other agricultural jobs. The substance has been most associated with the development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

How you might be exposed to glyphosate

People can suffer exposure to glyphosate in numerous ways:

  • Spraying Roundup can result in glyphosate landing on exposed skin and eyes.
  • Individuals who spray the weedkiller on plants can breathe in glyphosate.
  • The public can ingest small amounts of glyphosate in the foods it eats.