An announcement by the EPA could mean a setback for the handful of Oklahomans who have filed federal lawsuits blaming Roundup’s manufacturer for causing their cancers.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced it finished a regulatory review and found that glyphosate, the most widely-used weed killer in the U.S. is not a carcinogen. It reaffirms the agency’s stance on glyphosate, the key ingredient in Bayer AG’s Roundup. The reaffirmation flies in the face of numerous court judgments by juries, especially those in California that the weedkiller caused the cancer of some who sued.
Some of those who filed suit in the past several years were residents of central Oklahoma and their suits were transferred to California federal courts. Three consecutive California juries previously found Bayer liable for causing cancer with damages of tens of millions of dollars awarded to each plaintiff. The company is appealing those verdicts.
“EPA has concluded that there are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used according to the label and that it is not a carcinogen,” the agency said in a statement.
The EPA judgement could help bolster the case for Bayer as it faces thousands more lawsuits from Roundup users who allege it caused their cancer.
Bayer, which bought Roundup maker Monsanto for $63 billion in 2018, welcomed the findings. The company has maintained glyphosate and Roundup are safe and not carcinogenic.
Farmers spray glyphosate on fields of soybeans and other crops. Roundup is also used on lawns, golf courses and elsewhere.
“Glyphosate-based herbicides are one of the most thoroughly studied products of their kind, which is a major reason why farmers around the world continue to rely on these products,” said Liam Condon, Bayer’s global president for crop science.
In 2015, the World Health Organization’s cancer arm classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Bayer said last week it reached an agreement with plaintiffs’ lawyers to postpone a Missouri jury trial over allegations Roundup causes cancer to provide time for negotiations to settle the litigation.
“This administration’s troubling allegiance to Bayer/Monsanto and the pesticide industry doesn’t change the trove of peer-reviewed research by leading scientists finding troubling links between glyphosate and cancer,” said Lori Ann Burd, director of environmental health for the Center for Biological Diversity.
Bayer is considering stopping sales of glyphosate to private users who apply it in their gardens as part of settlement talks with U.S. plaintiffs, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported.