Glyphosate

Bayer Surrenders to Trial-Lawyer Extortion Over Bogus Glyphosate Weedkiller Cancer Claims

The chemical company has agreed to create a $10 billion settlement fund

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Bayer, the German pesticide and seed company, has agreed to establish a $10 billion fund that aims to resolve current litigation and address potential future litigation over its Roundup-branded glyphosate weedkiller. The company simultaneously states that "it is important to emphasize that these resolutions contain no admission of liability or wrongdoing." And it adds that "the extensive body of science indicates that Roundup™ does not cause cancer, and therefore, is not responsible for the illnesses alleged in this litigation." In other words, the company is giving in to trial-lawyer extortion.

The company is merely stating scientific facts that decades of research have shown that glyphosate is not a carcinogen when used as directed. This is the scientific conclusion of every safety and regulatory agency that has evaluated the compound over the past 30 years, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the European Food Safety Authority, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, and the Food and Agriculture Organization.

So what is going on? The trial lawyers are the willing (and highly compensated) instruments of the longstanding activist campaign against modern biotech crops spearheaded by groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund, Greenpeace, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. These activists hate the fact that the popular herbicide is used by millions of farmers around the world to clear weeds out of their fields planted in commodity crops genetically enhanced to resist it.

Scandalously, an activist scientist working with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) managed to get the agency to classify glyphosate as a "probable human carcinogen." Two weeks after publication of the IARC report, the scientist Christopher Portier cashed in on his activism by signing a lucrative contract to act as a litigation consultant with law firms engaged in bringing lawsuits first against Monsanto and later Bayer alleging that exposure to Roundup had caused their clients' cancers.

Using bogusly generated claims about glyphosate's carcinogenicity, trial lawyers have managed to bamboozle sympathetic juries into awarding hundreds of millions of dollars to their clients.

"All that this settlement shows is that the relevant science is no match for the combination of sensationalist tort cases, which exploit victims with a rare cancer, and the propaganda of a cynical agency, which appears to have engaged in fraud to find glyphosate a 'probable carcinogen'," observes former Stony Brook University School of Medicine cancer epidemiologist Geoffrey Kabat in an email. "Over a dozen national and international agencies (including the U.S. EPA, Health Canada, and the European Food Safety Authority) have concluded that glyphosate is not a carcinogen and is safe when used as directed.  Nevertheless, Bayer has clearly decided that reasoned examination of the facts cannot overcome the power of a narrative that reinforces well-worn fears, rewards greedy lawyers, and only harms farmers and the poor."

Bottom line: Activist-generated scientifically bogus extortion worked.

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  1. The world belongs to the ambulance chasers. We all just get to live in it.

    1. “Scandalously, an activist scientist working with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) managed to get the agency to classify glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen.”
      Two weeks after publication… Christopher Portier cashed in on his activism by signing a lucrative contract to act as a litigation consultant”

      Shades of Fred Singer, who signed on as a paid Patent Troll nuisance suit witness before becoming the senile doyen of climate denial content providers

      1. Except Singer presents real, indisputable data that show that global warming is a natural phenomenon with at most very minimal impact from humans.

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    2. One thing to keep in mind is Bayer has run into some other legal trouble surrounding ethical deviations.

      There is strong evidence to prove that they were knowingly selling hemophilia related products that were tainted with HIV and Hepatitis C leading to the infection of somewhere around 100,000 in North America, Europe and the Middle East.

      *Lookup ‘Contaminated haemophilia blood products’ on the interweb.

      1. One thing to keep in mind is Bayer has run into some other legal trouble surrounding ethical deviations.

        No it’s not one thing to keep in mind. If they were selling glyphosate contaminated with HIV you might have a point but barring that you’re blaming a rape victim because one of their dependents had an STD (at a time before the specific STD was widely understood).

        I’d say get your disingenuous bullshitting out of here but I suspect you’re a vacuous one-post troll.

        1. I’m not sure if you made any point other than you’ve been upset by my post.

          I don’t know for sure, but I suspect it’s because you’ve been using the chemical in question in your meth cook. If that’s the case I am sorry to have insulted your supplier.

  2. Plaintiffs lawyers: “But it’s not as fun when she just rolls over and says ‘get it over with'”.

  3. Now Bayer has $10B less to invest in pharmaceutical research.

    1. Bayer on line 2, says “Wir werden leben.”

      1. The usual phrase is „Man lebt“—typically uttered while heaving a great sigh of resignation.

  4. Score:
    Activists/Lawyers: $10B
    Reproducible Science: 0

    True for so many issues these day. The winner of the propaganda campaign gets rich.

    A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.
    Winston Churchill (defaced statue)

    1. I have often wondered what the Truth was doing with its pants off…

  5. i wonder what this will do to the prices of their medicines. to the MOON Alice

  6. Loser pays.
    Then all will be well.

    1. How do you do loser pays in a class action?

      1. how about outlaw class actions?

        They don’t help the victims in the slightest.

      2. Penalize plaintiffs lawyers who bring frivolous actions.

        Let’s find the really deep pockets.

        1. No, limit plaintiff lawyers to expenses + reasonable hourly fees. The contingent fee percentage is the source of evil here.

      3. Hold the law firms and lead plaintiffs accountable. Let them collect from the class that they were alleging to represent.

  7. Activist-generated scientifically bogus extortion worked.

    Why not? See global warming. Millions of us are already paying the price for junk science from NASA et al.

    1. Bailey thinks climate models are mostly right.

    2. When will you send us your junk comment rebate checks ?

      1. You must be pretty hard up to be begging for money on Reason.com.

        I’m sorry for your poor life decisions.

  8. So at standard spec rates, that means the lawyers will be taking in a cool $3 billion, no? Not bad for a long day’s work.

    1. And the plaintiff class will get coupons for more roundup.

  9. “The chemical company has agreed to create a $10 billion settlement fund”

    Wow! $10 billion is approximately the amount that Reason.com’s benefactor Charles Koch has lost this year because of Drumpf’s high-tariff / low-immigration policies.

    #HowLongMustCharlesKochSuffer?

  10. There is a key item missing here. The cases I’m aware of were all filed in one of the nine remaining states that do NOT use the Daubert rules of evidence. I’ve been writing and talking about this for years. The success of this rightly described “extortion” scheme is built upon forum shopping – finding one of the nine states that make it easy to get junk science into the courtroom. Once you have rival technical claims, juries tend to discount the expert/scientific evidence and base their award on an emotional appeal. I’m afraid that “loser pays”, as one commenter suggested, will not work because in the junk science states, the emotional tactic will still work.

    1. You have struck deep into the Heart of Texas, its eponymous Public Policy Institute included.

  11. Ron, the contemptable thing here that needs to be driven home very hard is the “probable human carcinogen” albatross is basically the gut impression of a bunch of scientists. Yes, looking at the structure, I would agree that it would be a likely carcinogen or mutagen, etc. But, and this is the biggy, the actual tests don’t bear that out. It’s just like the global warming / climate thing: yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and its concentration has been increased about 2x over the past 150 years. But beyond that, the science (and more importantly, effect on actual humans) breaks down to guesswork that is yet unproven. Same thing with glyphosphate: use with some caution, but don’t go screaming that it’s killing everyone.

    1. Yes, looking at the structure, I would agree that it would be a likely carcinogen or mutagen, etc.

      Only if you were retarded and/or didn’t know dick about chemistry or biochemistry.

  12. Fvck Morgan and Morgan and their stupid misleading junk science ads

  13. Next Up —-
    NYT proves by “activist science” that being conservative causes cancer… 🙂 The debate is over – communist scientists all agree that being conservative is the only way you get cancer.

    Cow Farts, Hairspray, Fuel, Smoke, CO2 (lol… What plants need), Sun, Rain, Butter, White Bread, Lights, Phones it only “progressive” to start attacking ideology too.

  14. A German company selling Glysophate? – Sure it’s not Zyklon?

    1. This is why I buy the store brand glysophate. That, and I don’t pay for the premium brand’s legal and advertising costs.

  15. Another reason why “loser pays” in the court is necessary.

  16. All I know is that if I suddenly can’t buy glysophate weed killer for my yard, some heads are gonna fucking roll …..

  17. Gee let’s turn over more public administration to private entities they are so honest. lol

    It is disturbing they can set aside 10 billion and not feel it.

    1. “It is disturbing they can set aside 10 billion and not feel it.”

      Somebody is going to feel it
      – That’s $360K per employee
      or
      – $8 increase on the price of a gallon of Round-up

      The plantiff’s don’t care though – it’s *free* money to them. Steal it from the employee’s or steal it from customers; makes no never.

  18. The case is somewhat problematic not because of what is generally complained about (“stupid runaway juries” – in this case, three juries, suggesting a bigger issue as the chances of this many stupid people in a row is quite low, not to mention the fact that the defense had a hand in selecting the juries) but because the jury was being asked to do something extraordinarily problematic: to definitively settle a scientific question in which the science is at best not settled. In truth it does very much seem to be the case that the evidence favors the defense, with only junk science supporting the plaintiffs, but this is not the point, nor can we fault the jury not being able to discern extraordinarily high level science. But the issue isn’t at all the jury’s competence in science, the question they should have all been instructed to answer was whether or not the science was reasonably settled, which is a question that any jury would have been capable of answering correctly. If the science was NOT reasonably settled (the way that, say, the question of whether or not cigarettes are carcinogenic is quite settled) one way or another, than the defendants could not have “knowingly conspired” to commit anything.

    Note that I am NOT making the case that the lack of evidence supporting the carcinogenicity of glyphosate is ‘debatable’ – rather, I’m saying whether or not it is AT LEAST not settled is something a that any jury, regardless of its expertise, could have determined without necessarily understanding what the studies are saying and whether or not they are flawed.

    Moreover, in one of the case I found the judge’s behavior concerning (Judge Gabriel Sanchez, I believe his name was), as it seems he openly allowed the plaintiff’s attorneys to freely lob unproven/unsubstantiated claims of federal felonies supposedly commited by Monsanto, including the absurd notion that Monstanto executives bribed nearly every western regulatory agency that failed to find a carcinogenic link, with the only evidence I could find mentioned being an email between a Monsanto Executive and an EPA regulator that suggested a slightly “cozy” relationship. It seemed the judge not only believed these crimes were commited without them being able to stand on their own so as to obtain any kind of independent conviction for fraud/bribery, but the judge in fact INSTRUCTED jurors to freely DISREGARD the weight of numerous regulatory agency conclusions.

    For this reason, I would absolutely love to understand exactly what happened in that court room, but I cannot conclude that the juries were all dim morons who were beguiled by smooth tongued attornies (as the typical and highly cynical anti-jury sentiments go), rather, it appears the system is being run by exceptionally inept judges, who ask jurors to conclude whether or not a product is definitively cancerous. The juries appear to believe that their options are “yes” or “no” rather than “we can’t determine this because both sides present strong evidence.”

    Put simply, a solution to all of this would be to change the question the jury is asked, and require such insane claims of federal crimes against the defendants to be proven on their own before they can be lobbed into courtrooms like grenades. Another possibility would be to allow for a special jury of experts, but highly plausible possibility that loony judges (which, for the record, describes approximately 90% of the federal judiciary – loony) would attempt to expand this to things like medical malpractice cases in an attempt to get juries of doctors to sympathize with defendent-physicians so as to exonerate them at all costs. It is in fact the psychotic behavior of judges – especially at the federal court level, that is ruining the legal system in this country, not the nonsensical notion that all jurors (and thus the entire population of the U.S. since juries are selected from the general population) are drooling morons, or that all trial-lawyers are evil.

    In fact, TRIAL-lawyers, in particular, are generally the least greedy, since they are the ones most willing to go to trial. That doesn’t mean there aren’t greedy or even ideologically loony ones, but the vast majority of those lawyers who are greedy extortionists are less willing to actually go to court, they would rather send nasty letters in an attempt to get quick settlements. It thus appears that the purpose of this article is less constructive and more about bashing “litigation,” as by naming “trial-lawyers” in particular, the article appears to be targeting the pro-trial American College of Trial Lawyers (which favors the ability of everyone to enforce their rights in a trial by jury, rather than the endless bogus dismissals and motions for summary judgement that have come to characterize the federal court system today). I find this to be a shame, as I am a huge fan of Mr. Bailey’s articles (and in fairness I still am), but I wish the article was more focused on the substance and problems associated with this particular case, rather than the evils of a system that allows people to file civil suits.

    1. Ugh, if only reason would let us edit typos out of our posts. The second to last paragraph above should have stated:

      “Another possibility would be to allow for a special jury of experts, but *with this solution, there looms the highly plausible chance* that loony judges (which, for the record, describes approximately 90% of the federal judiciary – loony) would attempt to expand this to things like medical malpractice cases in an attempt to get juries of doctors to sympathize with defendent-physicians so as to exonerate them at all costs.

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