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California man awarded $80 million

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Claims state that its most famous weed killer causes cancer.
Time

Eight days after a U.S. jury found that Roundup weed killer was a substantial factor in a California man’s cancer, it has awarded him $80 million in damages.

The six-person jury in San Francisco returned its verdict in favor of Edwin Hardeman, 70, who said he used Roundup products to treat poison oak, overgrowth and weeds on his property for years.

Agribusiness giant Monsanto, which was purchased by German giant Bayer last June, is facing thousands of similar lawsuits nationwide. This case could help determine the fate of the lawsuits, Hardeman’s attorneys say.

Bayer said in a statement that it will appeal the verdict.

“The verdict in this trial has no impact on future cases and trials, as each one has its own factual and legal circumstances,” the company said in the statement.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, glyphosate, a pesticide and herbicide best known as an ingredient in Roundup, is a probable human carcinogen.

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Both Monsanto and Bayer have said studies have established that the active ingredient in its widely used weed killer is safe.

“We are disappointed with the jury’s decision, but this verdict does not change the weight of over four decades of extensive science and the conclusions of regulators worldwide that support the safety of our glyphosate-based herbicides and that they are not carcinogenic,” Bayer said.

A different jury in August awarded another man $289 million. A judge later slashed the award to $78 million, and Monsanto has appealed.

Hardeman’s trial may be more significant. U.S. Judge Vince Chhabria is overseeing hundreds of Roundup lawsuits and has deemed Hardeman’s case and two others “bellwether trials.”

Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement to USA TODAY that the jurors “correctly held Monsanto responsible” for Hardeman’s cancer.

“And moral responsibility for any harm caused by the pesticide should be shared by the EPA regulators who ignored independent science and failed to protect Americans from this dangerous toxin,” Donley said.

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), said in a statement that “the testimony that informed the jury’s decision was Bayer-Monsanto hiding Roundup’s carcinogenic properties, manipulating the science and cozying-up with EPA so it would not have to warn consumers of its dangerous product.”

The cancer-linked herbicide glyphosate was found in more than two dozen popular breakfast cereals and snack bars, according to the environmental advocacy organization report last year, in levels “higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health.”

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“Bayer-Monsanto has known for decades the cancer-causing properties of Roundup and I applaud the jury for holding the company accountable for failing to warn consumers of the known danger,” Cook said Wednesday.

In late February, the public-interest advocacy group U.S. PIRG released a report revealing that tests of five wines and 15 beers, including organic ones, found traces of glyphosate in 19 out of the 20.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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