Dicamba | St. Louis Post-Dispatch | June 24, 2020
“Bayer AG, after more than a year of talks, has agreed to pay as much as $10.9 billion to settle thousands of U.S. lawsuits claiming that its widely used weedkiller Roundup caused cancer, resolving litigation that has pummeled the company’s share price.
The German agribusiness giant’s announcement on Wednesday also said it was settling claims regarding two other products: It would pay $820 million to resolve complaints about the production of PCB, a commercial and industrial chemical, and up to $400 million toward lawsuits against the herbicide dicamba, which suits claimed drifted off farm fields and killed neighboring crops.
The complaints are largely inherited from Bayer’s $63 billion purchase of Creve Coeur-based Monsanto in 2018.
Some in St. Louis quickly applauded the move.
Bayer shares are down 29% since it closed the Monsanto deal in June 2018. At one point last year as juries ruled against the company, Bayer’s market value had fallen below what it paid for Monsanto.
Following Wednesday’s announced settlement, Bayer leaders were asked on a media call if the acquisition was worth it.
“The combination was always built on what both companies can do in the future, together,” said Baumann. “That has not changed a bit. … We are more convinced than ever that this combination is going to have a great future.”
Some outsiders say Bayer’s future is helped by further distancing itself from Monsanto’s past, and its apparent effort to “start from scratch.”
“It does look like Bayer is attempting to get rid of the legacy lawsuits that it inherited from Monsanto,” said Paul Lesko, a St. Louis-based attorney involved with dicamba litigation. “I think it’s very positive and hopefully speaks well for Bayer in the future. … This is maybe a step in rebranding or repackaging.”
Bayer has repeatedly said Roundup is safe and important to farmers who use the herbicide in combination with the company’s genetically modified seeds; Bayer will continue selling Roundup without a cancer warning label, a company spokesman said.
Potential future cases will be governed by an agreement, subject to court approval, which includes the creation of an independent Class Science Panel. The Class Science Panel will determine whether Roundup can cause cancer and if so, at what minimum levels.
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