Prominent environmental groups are suing the federal government over glyphosate, the active ingredient in Bayer AG’s Monsanto Roundup weed killers.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) re-approved glyphosate in January, asserting the herbicide is safe. In a complaint filed last Friday, however, a consortium of environment advocacy groups – the Center for Food Safety (CFS), Beyond Pesticides, the Rural Coalition, Organización en California de Lideres Campesinas, and the Farmworker Association of Florida — accused the regulator of ignoring evidence of glyphosate’s adverse health and environmental effects, including a potential link to cancer.
“EPA’s half-completed, biased, and unlawful approval sacrifices the health of farmworkers and endangered species at the altar of Monsanto profits,” said CFS legal director George Kimbrell in a statement. “The reckoning for Roundup is coming.”
A second lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pesticide Action Network North America called the EPA’s actions “unsafe, unhealthy, and unlawful.”
Glyphosate is the most popular weed killer in the world. But in March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared the herbicide a probable human carcinogen, after an independent review suggested occupational exposure increased the risk for cancer, especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and its various subtypes.
A little over a year ago, a study published by University of Washington researchers suggested glyphosate exposure increased the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma by as much as 41%. Just months later, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry said it couldn’t rule out a cancer link and called for further investigation.
Bayer, which acquired Monsanto last year, is currently defending more than 43,000 Monsanto Roundup lawsuits that allege glyphosate caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. So far, all three juries convened to hear these cases have found glyphosate to be a substantial factor in the plaintiffs’ cancer, with combined damages totaling more than $2 billion. The company has yet to prevail in a single Roundup trial.
Bayer’s stock has lost more an 30% of its value since the first Monsanto Roundup verdict was announced in August 2018. While the company continues to insist that glyphosate is safe, it is also participating in court ordered mediation aimed at resolving the massive litigation.
Some recent reports indicate Bayer is inching towards a glyphosate settlement in the range of $10 billion.