A French court has canceled Bayer’s license for Monsanto Roundup Pro 360, one of its glyphosate-based herbicides.
In doing so, the Lyon court found that the country’s environmental regulator failed to consider its product’s health risks when it approved the license in 2017, particularly the possible link between glyphosate and cancer.
According to Reuters, the decision immediately bans sales of Monsanto Roundup Pro 360 in France.
French President Emmanuel Macron had previously pledged to phase-out all glyphosate-based herbicides within three years.
Glyphosate is the most popular weed killer in the world.
It was developed by Monsanto and is the active ingredient in Roundup Pro 360, Roundup, and Ranger Pro herbicides. The products came under Bayer’s umbrella last year, when it completed its acquisition of Monsanto.
In March 2015, a review conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) linked glyphosate to cancer, especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and its various subtypes. As a result, the agency officially declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen
Monsanto vehemently denies any glyphosate-cancer connection and has worked to discredit the IARC review.
Those efforts allegedly contributed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to declare glyphosate safe in 2017. According to agency critics and thousands of Roundup lawsuit plaintiffs, Monsanto unduly influenced the EPA’s review, even to the point of ghostwriting studies cited by the agency.
Last fall, Critical Reviews in Toxicology acknowledged that Monsanto had played a major role in 5 glyphosate studies conducted for the EPA’s review. The company’s involvement wasn’t disclosed when the studies were initially submitted or published, prompting the journal to take the unusual step of issuing an “Expression of Concern” in October.
The glyphosate cancer controversy has led more than 10,000 plaintiffs to file Monsanto Roundup lawsuits in courts throughout the United States.
The nation’s first trial involving Roundup and cancer concluded in August, when a San Francisco jury awarded $289 million in compensatory and punitive damages to a former California groundskeeper with terminal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. However, the verdict was later reduced to $78 million to comply with California’s punitive damage limits.
Another Monsanto Roundup lawsuit will go to trial on February 25th in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California.
Bayer’s stock dropped about 30% in the immediate aftermath of the first Roundup lawsuit verdict.
According to a report recently published by the German news magazine, Spiegel, Bayer underestimated the Roundup litigation, relied too much on Monsanto’s reassuring statements, and disregarded the company’s poor public image when it acquired Monsanto.
Among other things, the article suggested Bayer’s very survival could be threatened if it failed to settle the Roundup litigation, and ultimately suffers additional trial losses that cause its stock to plummet.