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Bayer Monsanto Damages Reduced to $25.27 Million by U.S. Judge

Health + Wellness
Bayer Monsanto Damages Reduced to $25.27 Million by U.S. Judge
The compound of German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer in Berlin. ODD ANDERSEN / AFP / Getty Images

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria announced his ruling in San Francisco on Monday.


Chhabria reduced the amount that Germany's Bayer AG has to pay the claimant to $25.27 million (€22.4 million). Bayer bought Roundup maker Monsanto for $63 billion last year.

Following a four-week trial in March a federal jury awarded $5 million (€4.4 million) in compensatory and $75 million in punitive damages to a man who blamed his cancer on glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup.

Edwin Hardeman was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2014.

Limits on Ratios for Damages

At a hearing to discuss Bayer's request to overturn the verdict earlier this month, Chhabria said, "It's quite clear that under the Constitution I'm required to reduce the punitive damages award and it's just a question of how much."

U.S. Supreme Court rulings limit the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages to 9 to 1.

The judge said he would also take into account the fact that Hardeman was now in full remission and unlikely to suffer as much as he had in the past.

Bayer says Roundup — and its active ingredient glyphosate — are safe for human use and not carcinogenic. However, in 2015 the World Health Organization's cancer arm reached a different conclusion, classifying glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans."

Roundup products for sale in California.


Litigation Hits Share Price

The Leverkusen-based company is facing lawsuits from more than 13,400 plaintiffs in the U.S.

Earlier this year, Bayer CEO Werner Baumann conceded the effect the court cases had had on the share price: "We have lost two cases in lower courts. That is why the company is massively affected. You see it in our share price," he said at an academic business event in Cologne in April. "You see it selectively, mainly here in Germany and in France — less so in the USA — in our reputational scores."

Over the past year, Bayer's share price has dropped dramatically and the company has seen €30 billion (approximately $33.7 billion) wiped off its market value since the first court ruling last August. Its share price has fallen from €96 (approximately $108) in August 2018 to €58.63 (approximately $66) at close of markets in Frankfurt on Monday.

Reposted with permission from our media associate DW.

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Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

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But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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