German-owned Bayer will pay up to $10.9 billion to settle litigation over the subsidiary Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup, which has faced thousands of lawsuits over claims it causes cancer, the company said this week. The company said the Roundup settlement involves about 125,000 filed and un-filed claims. Under the agreement, Bayer will make a payment of $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to resolve current litigation and $1.25 billion to address potential future litigation.
“First and foremost, the Roundup settlement is the right action at the right time for Bayer to bring a long period of uncertainty to an end,” Bayer CEO Werner Baumann said in a statement. “It resolves most current claims and puts in place a clear mechanism to manage risks of potential future litigation. It is financially reasonable when viewed against the significant financial risks of continued, multi-year litigation and the related impacts to our reputation and to our business.”
Monsanto developed glyphosate — a key ingredient in Roundup — in the 1970s. The weedkiller has been sold in more than 160 countries and widely used in the U.S. The company has long maintained that it is safe. Bayer said last year that all government regulators that have looked at the issue have rejected a link between cancer and glyphosate.
But the herbicide came under increasing scrutiny after the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, classified it as a “probable human carcinogen” in 2015. Lawsuits against Monsanto followed. Monsanto has attacked the international research agency’s opinion as an outlier. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says glyphosate is safe for people when used in accordance with label directions.
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