Monsanto Roundup lawsuit: Jury awards $289 million to cancer patient

The active ingredient glyphosate is used in a number of weedkillers but the best known is Roundup

The share price of German agrochemicals giant Bayer AG has dropped by more than 10 percent on Monday after a US court ordered its subsidiary Monsanto to pay a total of 298 million USA dollars in damages for selling a carcinogenic weed killer.

While observers predicted that thousands of other claims could follow, Bayer said the California jury's findings went against scientific evidence and that other courts "might arrive at different conclusions". Bayer closed a deal to buy Monsanto for $66 billion in June.

Barclays analysts said Bayer was in for a "litigious headache".

The verdict surprised Bayer investors and may stir up memories of the scandal over cholesterol-lowering pill Lipobay, said Markus Mayer, an analyst with Baader Bank.

Bayer shares dropped to their lowest level since late 2013, preventing an otherwise rather bullish DAX index of the country's 30 largest blue chips from rising. That extended its rout this year to 19 percent.

Monsanto, which also makes another similar product called Ranger Pro, has denied glyphosate is linked to cancer, saying hundreds of studies have found the product to be safe.

Glyphosate, which is most commonly sold under the name Roundup, is a wildly popular herbicide manufactured by Monsanto.

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The plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, proved to the jury that Roundup herbicide was a "substantial contributing factor" in causing his cancer and that Monsanto failed to warn consumers about the product's cancer risk. The products of the USA agrochemical company will instead become fully-integrated into Bayer's own marketing portfolio.

The herbicide is available in 130 countries and can be used on more than 100 crops.

It awarded $39 million in compensatory and $250 million in punitive damages. The company said it will appeal. Doctors say he has months left to live.

Mr Johnson's lawyers, relying on his testimony and expert witnesses, argued that his exposure, including accidents that got him soaked from head to toe in Roundup, caused his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was seeking $412 million in damages.

The case against Monsanto, bought by Bayer this year for $63 billion, is the first of more than 5,000 similar lawsuits over the company's glyphosate-based weedkillers, including its Roundup brand, across the United States.

Tobias said Monsanto's promised appeal could result in the charges being reduced - but said the company "might want to consider settling now, depending on its calculus of the risk that it might lose on appeal and the adverse publicity that might arise from losing or from continuing to contest the verdict".

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