Third Jury Rules Roundup Caused Cancer, Orders Bayer to Pay $2 Billion
A third jury ruled that Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller caused cancer Monday, awarding a California couple more than $2 billion in damages. Not only is it the largest award in a Roundup trial to date, it is also the largest U.S. jury award this year and the eighth-largest product-defect award ever, Bloomberg reported.
"We really wanted to tell Monsanto, 'Cut it out, do better,' and we wanted to get their attention," juror Doug Olsen told Bloomberg of the award.
.@Bayer Ordered by Jury to Pay $2 Billion Damages in #Roundup Trial. Via @business https://t.co/PKOKEzmDqH "It’s t… https://t.co/Cp71jB8CEE— Gary Ruskin (@Gary Ruskin)1557783236.0
Alva and Alberta Pilliod used Roundup on their property for more than three decades before they were both diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Reuters reported. The jury ruled that Roundup had been defectively designed and that Monsanto failed to warn customers of the cancer risk and acted negligently. In total, they awarded the couple $2 billion in punitive damages and $55 million in compensation. The $2 billion is likely to be reduced due to Supreme Court rulings that limit the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages at 9:1. However, the Pilliod's lawyer R. Brent Wisner urged the jury to award a large amount in order to send a message to the company, The New York Times reported.
"Monsanto has never had any interest in finding out whether Roundup is safe," Wisner said in a post-verdict statement reported by The Guardian. "Instead of investing in sound science, they invested millions in attacking science that threatened their business agenda."
The judge in the Pilliod's trial allowed lawyers to present additional evidence not admitted in the first two Roundup trials, showing how Monsanto attempted to influence research into the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.
"We were finally allowed to show a jury the mountain of evidence showing Monsanto's manipulation of science, the media and regulatory agencies to forward their own agenda despite Roundup's severe harm to the animal kingdom and humankind," one of the couple's attorneys, Michael Miller, said in a statement reported by The Guardian.
In a statement following the trial, Alberta Pilliod urged Bayer, who acquired Monsanto last year, to add a health warning to the product, saying she would not have used it if she had known of the risks.
"We've been fighting cancer for more than nine years now and we can't do any of the things we wanted to do. We really resent Monsanto for that," Pilliod said.
The verdict spelled further trouble for Bayer. Its shares have fallen 40 percent since it purchased Monsanto, The New York Times reported. After Monday's verdict, its stock fell to its lowest point in nearly seven years, according to Bloomberg.
This is the third Roundup trial since Bayer acquired Monsanto. In August 2018, a California jury said Roundup use caused the cancer of a Bay Area groundskeeper. Then, in March, the jury in the first federal Roundup case also ruled in favor of the plaintiff. The company faces more than 13,400 similar lawsuits in the U.S.; the next will take place in a Missouri state court in August, Reuters reported.
In a statement following the verdict, Bayer pointed to an announcement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reaffirming its previous finding that glyphosate does not cause cancer in humans.
"The contrast between today's verdict and (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's) conclusion that there are 'no risks to public health from the current registered uses of glyphosate' could not be more stark," Bayer said in a statement reported by Reuters.
Bayer's full statement on the jury's verdict in the glyphosate trial taking place in the California Superior Court… https://t.co/wcgfMidEDx— Bayer US (@Bayer US)1557782825.0
Most of the trials are based on a contrasting 2015 finding from the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer, which ruled glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic to humans."
The product has lost a great deal of credibility. Bloomberg reported that following the verdict, an anonymous juror told the company's lawyer what they could do to assure jurors of Roundup's safety.
"I wanted you to get up and drink it," the juror said.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.