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Monsanto-Bayer Gets Bitten. But the Fight Is Far from Over.

In 2016, Christine Sheppard traveled to The Hague, Netherlands, to testify before the Monsanto Tribunal (which Organic Consumers Association helped organize). 

Sheppard told the panel of lawyers and judges she believed Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller had caused her life-destroying non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She later joined tens of thousands of cancer victims who sued Monsanto (now owned by Bayer).

Last week, Bayer settled most of those lawsuits, for a staggering $10 billion. 

Sheppard, whose story began in 1995, on a farm in Hawaii that she and her husband were forced to sell after her cancer diagnosis, called the settlement a “slap in the face.” As she wrote this week in the Guardian:

“Bayer admitted no guilt, will continue to sell Roundup, and refused to label it as carcinogenic. People will continue to get cancer from it.”

$10 billion is a lot of money to have to pay out to victims of a product Bayer insists is “safe.” We can probably count that as a win.

But admitting no guilt, and being allowed to continue to sell a carcinogenic product, is definitely a loss for consumers.

Indeed, it appears Bayer will at least try to continue to get away with murder—and the chemical giant will be helped along by a federal judge in California who in a ruling last week (another loss) refused to allow the state to require cancer warning labels on Roundup.

But the courts—and a growing number of cities and countries—aren’t all in Bayer’s pocket.

Earlier this month, a federal court ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency broke the law when it approved Monsanto-Bayer’s dicamba-based herbicides—because the agency ignored clear evidence that the new herbicides would cause widespread damage to crops.

That good news was followed by Mexico’s announcement of plans to phase out the use of glyphosate-based herbicides by 2024, to “protect human health and the environment.”

We’ll take any good news we can get when it comes to Monsanto-Bayer. But we won’t let a little good news cause us to slack off. 

As the New York Times reported, part of the $1.25 billion settlement Bayer agreed to will be used to establish an independent expert panel to resolve two critical questions about glyphosate: Does it cause cancer, and if so, what is the minimum dosage or exposure level that is dangerous?

Bayer-Monsanto has a long history of undermining, sabotaging and attacking scientists who challenge the company line that “glyphosate is safe.” 

That makes it more critical than ever that credible scientists are allowed, without being attacked or undermined by Bayer, to conduct research and present evidence about the real dangers of Roundup.

In October 2019, the Ramazzini Institute, in coordination with the Mount Sinai School of Medicine (NY) and the George Washington University, launched the Global Glyphosate Study, the most comprehensive study ever on glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides. The Institute, based in Bologna, Italy, reports that due to COVID-19, the funding for the study has taken a major hit. To learn more about the study, and to donate to keep it going, visit https://glyphosatestudy.org.

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). To keep up with OCA news and alerts, sign up for our newsletter.

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