Whippany-based Bayer responded to a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiffs in the case of Pilliod v. Monsanto, a trial conducted before Judge Winifred Smith in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Alameda. This is the first case in the glyphosate JCCP coordinated proceeding to go to trial.
In a statement Bayer said that it is disappointed with the jury’s decision and will appeal the verdict in this case, which conflicts directly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s interim registration review decision released just last month, the consensus among leading health regulators worldwide that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic, and the 40 years of extensive scientific research on which their favorable conclusions are based.
“We have great sympathy for Mr. and Mrs. Pilliod, but the evidence, in this case, was clear that both have long histories of illnesses known to be substantial risk factors for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), most NHL has no known cause, and there is not reliable scientific evidence to conclude that glyphosate-based herbicides were the ‘but for’ cause of their illnesses as the jury was required to find in this case.”
Bayer said that the contrast between today’s verdict and EPA’s conclusion that there are “no risks to public health from the current registered uses of glyphosate” could not be more stark.
“EPA’s conclusion is based on a database of more than 800 studies on glyphosate and Bayer’s glyphosate-based herbicides that relate to human and mammalian health, and its 2017 cancer risk assessment also examined numerous studies in the open literature.”
In contrast, the statement notes that plaintiffs, in this case, presented the jury with cherry-picked findings from a tiny fraction of the volume of studies available, and that failed to adjust for exposure to other pesticides, did not have statistically significant results, had very small exposed populations and/or are at odds with the full body of science. Plaintiffs also relied heavily on IARC’s assessment of glyphosate from 2015. But as EPA noted, EPA’s cancer assessment was “more robust” and “more transparent” than IARC’s review, which considered only a subset of published studies included in EPA’s evaluation. IARC’s opinion remains an outlier among international health regulators and scientific bodies.
“The verdict in this trial has no impact on future cases and trials, as each one has its own factual and legal circumstances. Also, this litigation will take some time before it concludes as no case has been subject to appellate review where key legal rulings in the trials will be assessed. The company will continue to evaluate and refine its legal strategies as it moves through the next phase of this litigation, which will be marked by a greater focus on post-trial motions and appellate review and trials scheduled in different venues.”
Bayer said that glyphosate-based Roundup products have been used safely and successfully for over four decades worldwide and are a valuable tool to help farmers deliver crops to markets and practice sustainable farming by reducing soil tillage, soil erosion and carbon emissions. Regulatory authorities around the world consider glyphosate-based herbicides safe when used as directed.
“There is an extensive body of research on glyphosate and Bayer’s glyphosate-based herbicides, including more than 800 rigorous studies submitted to EPA, European and other regulators in connection with the registration process, that confirms that these products are safe when used as directed. In addition, the largest and most recent epidemiologic study – the 2018 independent National Cancer Institute-supported long-term study that followed over 50,000 pesticide applicators for more than 20 years and was published after the IARC monograph – found no association between glyphosate-based herbicides and cancer.”
Additionally, Bayer said that EPA’s 2017 post-IARC cancer risk assessment examined more than 100 studies the agency considered relevant and concluded that glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans,” its most favorable rating, while the agency’s April 2019 interim registration review decision on glyphosate also reaffirmed that “there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label and that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.”