Roundup cancer verdict sends Bayer shares sliding

15 Août, 2018, 11:25 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Dewayne Johnson who has terminal cancer mixed and sprayed hundreds of gallons of glyphosate weedkiller

The California state court verdict against Monsanto for this plaintiff indicates that EPA's safety conclusion for glyphosate exposure may not be an insurmountable obstacle to other juries potentially finding that Roundup caused or contributed to thousands of other plaintiffs' cancers.

Shares in German farm chemicals, materials and drug company Bayer have plunged in the wake of a USA court verdict against Monsanto, which Bayer has acquired.

Johnson's job as pest control manager of San Francisco Bay Area schools required him to spray gallons of Roundup and a smiliar weedkiller, Ranger Pro, as many as 30 times a year.

Analyst Michael Leacock of the European financial services firm MainFirst said the uncertainties surrounding further claims against Monsanto were likely to have a long-term impact on Bayer's shares.

Monsanto has denied a link between the active ingredient in Roundup - glyphosate - and cancer, saying hundreds of studies have established that the weed killer is safe.

Johnson, diagnosed in 2014 with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma - a cancer that affects white blood cells - says he repeatedly used a professional form of Roundup while working at a school in Benicia, California.

Monsanto spokesman Scott Partridge said the company will appeal. "I hope it gets the attention that it needs".

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In a verdict that is expected to open the floodgates to a steady stream of similar litigation against the company, the 16-member California Superior Court jury awarded Dewayne Johnson $250 million in punitive damages and almost $40 million in compensatory damages.

"The jury sent a message to the Monsanto boardroom that they have to change the way they do business", said Robert F Kennedy Jr - an environmental lawyer, son of the late United States senator and a member of Johnson's legal team.

Aware of the reputation of Monsanto, which specializes in genetically modified seeds and crop protection technologies, Bayer said it planned to ditch the Monsanto name once the takeover was complete.

The jury awarded Johnson, who doctors testified that he is not expected to live past 2020, $250 million in punitive damages and nearly $40 million in compensatory damaged.

Bayer's 1.5 billion euros of bonds due in December 2029 plunged 3 cents on the euro to the lowest since the company issued them in June to help pay for the Monsanto acquisition.

The spotlight has been on the chemical since the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the World Health Organisation's cancer agency, broke with that longstanding scientific consensus in 2015, and listed glyphosate as a "probable carcinogen".

He noted that the US Environmental Protection Agency continued to assert - after repeated assessments - that Roundup was safe.

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