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May 21, 2021

Bayer Unit Monsanto Loses Second Appeal in Roundup Cancer Suit

On May 14, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court finding that Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer causes cancer. The appeals court also affirmed the $25 million award for its plaintiff, Edwin Hardeman. Hardeman alleged that his exposure to the product caused him non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. His suit is the second of three Roundup trials that Monsanto, the crop science unit of Bayer, has lost in the past two years, and the first in federal court.

Bayer contends that the EPA’s authority to regulate herbicide labeling disallows states from imposing requirements that depart from the requirements of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. The company argues that it cannot comply with federal law while also complying with state law failure-to-warn claims. The appeals court panel held the state law claims were not preempted because state law was fully consistent with FIFRA.

Bayer further argues that EPA has determined cancer warnings to be unwarranted. The company is considering petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. The company acquired Monsanto, maker of the herbicide, in 2018. Despite proposing a global settlement of $11 billion in June 2021 to resolve its U.S. suits, Bayer’s Roundup faces about 4,000 federal cases for cancer-causing claims.