At the same time that Bayer AG has agreed to a $10 billion settlement with victims of Roundup cancer, a federal judge in California delivered a controversial ruling favoring the weed killer’s manufacturer, allowing them to sell the product in the state without being required to label their product as carcinogenic.
In handing down his decision, U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb said that there is not enough evidence to prove that glyphosate, the chemical in Roundup, causes cancer. He determined that forcing a warning label on the company would represent a violation of their First Amendment rights, and issued a permanent injunction against the state’s powerful Proposition 65 warnings being applied to the product.
Judge Dismisses International Agency’s 2015 Findings Regarding Roundup Cancer
Despite the fact that in 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer identified glyphosate as a “probable” human carcinogen, Judge Shubb pointed to other agencies that argued against that assessment. Included in that group was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has called claims about Roundup cancer insufficient.
The judge’s assertion that it would be wrong to require the company to indicate that glyphosate is “known to the state of California to cause cancer” flies in the face of decisions that juries have made regarding Roundup cancer. Three different juries in the state have spent significant time assessing the scientific evidence on the topic, and each determined that it was more likely than not that the chemical in Roundup contributed to the plaintiffs’ non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The verdicts against the product’s manufacture were astronomical, with one jury assigning a $2 billion punitive damages award.
Though the juries were told about the EPA’s skepticism about Roundup cancer, they decided that the agency had been unfairly influenced by corporate lobbying, as well as articles and white papers that had been ghostwritten on behalf of the company.