A Missouri state court judge has agreed to delay an upcoming Roundup lawsuit trial, the latest to be postponed as Bayer attempts to negotiate a settlement with thousands of plaintiffs who claim glyphosate caused cancer.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto Roundup, is the most popular weed killer in the world. However, glyphosate has been at the center of controversy since March 2015, when the World Health Organization’s international Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared the herbicide a probable human carcinogen. IARC acted after an independent review suggested occupational exposure increased the risk of cancer, especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and its various subtypes.
Bayer acquired Monsanto in June of 2018, and is now defending more than 18,000 Roundup lawsuits in courts around the United States. The first glyphosate trial concluded just two months later, with a San Francisco Superior Court jury awarding $289 million to a former school district groundskeeper with terminal cancer. Two other Roundup cancer lawsuits have since gone to trial in California, both of which resulted in massive verdicts for plaintiffs.
Trial judges ultimately reduced all three glyphosate verdicts, and Bayer is pursuing appeals.
Over the summer, a federal judge in California appointed prominent attorney, Kenneth Feinberg, to oversee Roundup settlement discussions. While Bayer vehemently denies any link between glyphosate and cancer, the company has indicated it would be open to a financially reasonable Roundup settlement.
“A settlement only makes sense if the cost of settling is lower than the cost of going through the court system and if it is final,” Liam Condon, president of Bayer Crop Science, told German media earlier this month. “There is no point in settling, and then having lots of new litigation in the future. Regardless of which option works, the base assumption is that it (glyphosate) remains with grower.”
Several glyphosate trials were scheduled to begin in St. Louis, Missouri this year, but all have been postponed amid the ongoing settlement talks. Bayer announced the latest delay on Saturday.
“With the change in the trial schedule and no trial dates set through the rest of the year, the appeals of the three completed trials will be a significant focus of the litigation in the months ahead,” the company said.
According to Reuters, no new trial date has been set, but the Court has scheduled a February 10th status conference to reevaluate the Roundup lawsuit.