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Supreme Court dismisses Roundup maker’s appeal over cancer allegations

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday handed down a multimillion-dollar ruling against the maker of the popular weed killer Roundup for failing to warn about cancer risks.

The judges’ decision not to intervene clears the way for thousands of similar lawsuits against Bayer. The Biden administration had asked the court to deny the company’s request, a departure from the Trump administration’s position.

In a statement Tuesday, the company said it disagreed with the court’s decision to appeal and was “confident that the comprehensive science and consistently positive views of leading regulators worldwide provide a strong foundation on which to successfully defend Roundup.” in court if necessary.”

The case was brought by Edwin Hardeman, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2015. He sued the company, claiming that using Roundup for more than two decades caused his cancer. He said the company failed to warn about the cancer risks associated with the active ingredient glyphosate.

“This has been a long, hard-fought road to justice for Mr. Hardeman, and now thousands of other cancer victims can continue to hold Monsanto accountable for its decades-long corporate misconduct,” said Hardeman’s attorneys, Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff, in one statement refers to the original manufacturer of the herbicide, which was acquired by Bayer in 2018.

The Environmental Protection Agency has repeatedly concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans. California’s labeling laws are stricter. After an international research group classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015, the state required a warning label for glyphosate-based pesticides. The classification sparked a series of lawsuits against the maker of the country’s most widely used weed killer.

An appeals court upheld a jury’s $25 million verdict, finding that Hardeman’s exposure to Roundup was a “significant factor” in causing his cancer and that the company had failed to warn of the risks.

Court rejects Trump-era EPA finding that weed killers are safe

The US Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said federal law does not preempt the company’s duty to include a cancer warning on its label. The court said a pesticide can be “mislabeled” even if the EPA has approved its label, and a company can meet both state and federal labeling requirements.

The company’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to reverse, citing previous rulings designed to ensure “nationwide consistency in pesticide labeling.” California and possibly 49 other states should not be able to “marginalize” the EPA’s claims that glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer, they said.

The company found that Hardeman stopped using Roundup in 2012 before California’s labeling requirement.

In 2020, Bayer agreed to pay more than $10 billion to settle tens of thousands of potential US lawsuits. The company said the settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing, noting in its Tuesday statement that it had won its last four Roundup-related cases.

Additionally, the company said it is transitioning from glyphosate-based home lawn and garden products to alternative ingredients in the United States to “manage litigation risk in the United States and not because of safety concerns.”

Last week, a separate ruling by the 9th federal court prompted the EPA to reconsider its 2020 finding that glyphosate does not pose an “unreasonable risk to humans or the environment.”

In a unanimous opinion, Judge Michelle Friedland wrote that the Trump-era finding “was not supported by substantive evidence” and failed to meet the agency’s legal obligations to assess environmental impacts. The report found that the area under cultivation nationwide using glyphosate is approximately three times that of California.