$2bn for couple in case over weed-killer cancer link

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A federal court awarded over $2B to a California couple who claimed the weed killer "Round-Up", caused them both to develop cancer.

The jury came to its verdict yesterday, Monday, May 13, and according to Reuters, the case is the largest U.S. jury verdict to date against the company in litigation over the chemical. The verdict comes about a month and a half after a jury awarded $80 million to another person, Edwin Hardeman, who has cancer.

On Monday, a jury in Oakland, California, said Bayer was liable for plaintiffs Alva and Alberta Pilliod contracting non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The award to Alva and Alberta Pilliod included $1 billion each in punitive damages and $55 million in compensatory damages for economic and non-economic losses for their non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Bayer-owned glyphosate developer Monsanto was convicted in the United States in 2018 and 2019 of not taking necessary steps to warn of the potential risks of Roundup - their weedkiller containing the chemical, which two California juries found caused cancer in two users.

The German chemicals giant faces more than 13,400 US lawsuits over the herbicide's alleged cancer risk.

Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement that the California jury's decision "shows that there's more than enough evidence that Roundup is an environmental and public health nightmare".

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Bayer vowed to challenge Monday's ruling, calling it "excessive and unjustifiable".

However, Monsanto has also faced accusations that it benefited from a cosy relationship with EPA officials and that it interfered with supposedly independent scientific reviews that concluded Roundup is safe. She says they are unable to enjoy the same activities they participated in before their cancer diagnosis. The company insists the glyphosate-based product is not linked to cancer. They are appealing the verdicts.

The Pilliods said they had used the Roundup herbicide on their yard and other properties for decades. Since acquiring Monsanto in a $63 billion deal, Buyer has inherited thousands of lawsuits over the weed killer. A judge later reduced the award by $200 million.

In this new case, lawyers for Alva and Alberta Pilliod argued in San Francisco Superior Court that the couple's non-Hodgkin lymphoma was the result of using Roundup for more than four decades as part of residential landscaping. Both of them are now in remission, but their trial had been expedited due to the risk of a relapse and potentially short life expectancy.

"But rather than act on this body of evidence", Hauter said, "the EPA continues to side with the chemical industry and recently announced it will continue to allow glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, to be sold".

Bayer has seen its stock price plummet 40 percent since it purchased Monsanto past year for $63 billion. That view itself conflicts with a 2015 report by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer, which said glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic to humans".

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