USA: Controversial Weed Killer Bayer Earmarks Further Billions for U.S. Glyphosate Lawsuits

Editor: Alexander Stark

Pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals group Bayer is setting aside billions more for the already expensive glyphosate litigation in the United States.

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Bayer announces it will stop selling products containing the controversial active ingredient glyphosate to U.S. private customers.
Bayer announces it will stop selling products containing the controversial active ingredient glyphosate to U.S. private customers.
(Source: Bayer)

Leverkusen (dpa) - For the second quarter of 2021, Bayer said it would make an additional gross reserve of $ 4.5 billion (3.8 billion euros) before taxes and discounting to reflect potential long-term risks, the DAX-listed company announced on Thursday.

Bayer also announced that it would no longer use glyphosate, a weed killer at the center of legal disputes in America in light of tens of thousands of lawsuits alleging cancer risks, in products for private customers in the U.S. from 2023. The exact date would still depend on approval by the authorities. Bayer had already announced the step in May in order to reduce the risk of future lawsuits.

With the billion-dollar reserves, Bayer wants to protect itself in case the U.S. Supreme Court either does not accept a landmark glyphosate case for trial or rules in favor of the plaintiffs. In that case, Bayer would set up its own program to deal with further lawsuits in the matter. Nevertheless, the company expressed confidence that the Supreme Court would issue a ruling favorable to the company.

Group CEO Werner Baumann has high hopes for the court's decision. The case concerns the plaintiff Edwin Hardeman, who blames glyphosate for his cancer and was awarded a total of over 25 million dollars in damages.

According to current information, Bayer plans to file the petition for review of the Hardeman case in August, and a final decision is then expected presumably in 2022. The Leverkusen-based company expects a positive ruling for Bayer to have a signal effect.

With this step, Bayer's management is trying to draw a line under the legal dispute, which has cost billions of euros. A comprehensive settlement was reached on how to deal with existing lawsuits, which, according to information from May 96,000 cases have been definitively settled. The handling of future lawsuits remains open. Bayer recently presented a five-point plan after a judge rejected previous proposals for a solution. All told, Bayer has so far earmarked more than eleven billion, to which 4.5 billion will now be added.

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