Jury: Monsanto Roundup weed killer a substantial factor in man's cancer

Edwin Hardeman leaves the federal courthouse in San Francisco last month with his wife Mary. Hardeman claimed his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was caused by the weed killer Roundup and a jury has agreed

The German company, which acquired Roundup as part of its $66bn takeover of United States rival Monsanto, said it was disappointed with the jury's initial decision.

The trial now moves to phase two - deciding whether Monsanto's conduct makes it liable.

Multiple national and global agencies have identified Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate, as a probable cause of cancer in humans, including the worldwide Agency for Research on Cancer, which is an arm of the World Health Organization, and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

The weedkiller Roundup was a "substantial factor" in the cancer of a USA man who developed a lump in his throat after decades of spraying his garden - the second major legal defeat to agrochemical giant Monsanto in a year.

Many government regulators have rejected a link between cancer and glyphosate.

Bayer, which acquired Monsanto previous year, said in a statement after the verdict that it continues to "believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer". Monsanto's Roundup was the first glyphosate-based weed killer but is no longer patent-protected and many other versions are now available.

The next stage of the trial will consider Bayer's liability and damages.

Since Bayer's subsidiary, Monsanto, lost in last Aug's trial, investors have been viewing Bayer shares as high-risk stocks which they don't want to include in their portfolios.

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Bayer's shares dropped 12% after a jury found a customer developed cancer from using its Roundup weed-killer.

In that case, jurors awarded the plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson $289 million.

Under Chhabria's order, the second phase would only take place if the jury found Roundup to be a substantial factor in causing Hardeman's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, said Tuesday's decision showed that the August jury verdict was not an aberration and that the Hardeman case could be an indication of what may happen in future similar cases.

"Monsanto has placed an unsafe product on the market, has manipulated the science and manipulated public opinion and has consistently misled people into believing Roundup is safe", Jennifer Moore, one of the plaintiff's attorneys, said before the verdict, after the defense team claimed at the trial that the company had "bullied" researchers to suppress negative studies about the weed killer.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the World Health Organisation's cancer agency, concluded that glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic to humans". They will be able to present that evidence in the second phase.

More than 750 cases Roundup cases against Bayer have been consolidated in San Francisco's federal court.

It was the second jury verdict to find that Roundup caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

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