The prominent attorney tapped to lead Monsanto Roundup settlement talks is growing increasingly confident that the massive cancer litigation will be resolved.
“There are talks with various lawyers around the nation who have significant inventories of Roundup cases,” Kenneth Feinberg recently told Bloomberg News. “I’m optimistic we can reach a comprehensive settlement of this litigation.”
Bayer AG, which acquired Monsanto in June of 2018, is defending nearly 43,000 Roundup lawsuits nationwide that blame the glyphosate-based herbicide for causing various forms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The company lost the first three Monsanto Roundup trials convened since cases began going to juries that same summer. With Bayer facing billions in liability, some prominent investors have urged the company to abandon its vigorous defense and settle the increasingly costly litigation.
Kenneth Feinberg was appointed to lead the Roundup settlement talks last year. The Washington, D.C.-based attorney previously helmed high-profile negotiations that resulted in the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, the BP Deepwater Horizon settlement, and the agreement to resolve claims stemming from the GM faulty ignition switch scandal.
Earlier this month, a Monsanto Roundup lawsuit scheduled to go to trial in St. Louis Circuit Court was postponed for a second time, one of several trials recently put on hold to allow settlement talks to move forward. However, other upcoming trials remain on court dockets around the country.
Monsanto Roundup products are the most popular weed killers in the world. But in March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen, after an independent review linked occupational exposure to an increased risk of cancer, especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and its various subtypes.
Monsanto waged an aggressive campaign to discredit the IARC review, but critics claim the company manipulated positive glyphosate studies and unduly influenced reviews conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other regulators that declared the herbicide to be safe.
While the EPA continues to maintain that glyphosate is not carcinogenic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry recently said it couldn’t rule out a cancer link and called for more research.
Last year, a study published by researchers at the University of Washington also suggested glyphosate exposure increased the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma by as much as 41%.