Shares of Bayer plunged following a $289 million verdict by California jury in a landmark case alleging Monsanto’s Roundup and Ranger Pro herbicides contributed to a groundskeeper’s cancer diagnosis. Bayer successfully completed an acquisition of Monsanto in June. Monday morning in Europe, Bayer shares fell 11 percent.
Monsanto introduced Roundup in 1974. The active ingredient in the weed killer is glyphosate. There are now dozens of varieties of Roundup. Monsanto also makes Ranger Pro, a generic version of Roundup, which also contains glyphosate.
In a first-of-its-kind case against Monsanto, plaintiff DeWayne “Lee” Johnson claimed that he regularly used Roundup and Ranger Pro as a groundskeeper for a school district, even becoming drenched in the herbicide following an accident. Shortly afterward he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer. He continued to use the products even after he was diagnosed because he trusted they were safe. After a second accident left him covered in herbicide, he tried repeatedly to contact Monsanto to see if the substance could be dangerous to his health. Monsanto never returned his calls.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has detailed the scientific links between glyphosate and lymphoma. Yet, Monsanto refused to acknowledge the link, and failed tow warn consumers of this risk. A California jury found Monsanto liable, awarding Johnson $39.25 million in compensatory damages and punishing the company with $250 million in punitive damages.
Bayer, a German farm chemicals, materials and drug company, says it will stop using the Monsanto name in the marketing of the herbicides.