Bayer faces second trial over alleged Roundup cancer risk
Bayer AG on Monday faced a second US jury over allegations that its popular glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup causes cancer, six months after the company’s share price was rocked by a $289m verdict in California state court.
The lawsuit by California resident Edwin Hardeman against the company began on Monday morning in federal rather than state court. The trial is also a test case for a larger litigation. More than 760 of the 9,300 Roundup cases nationwide are consolidated in the federal court in San Francisco that is hearing Hardeman’s case.
Bayer denies all allegations that Roundup or glyphosate cause cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, saying decades of independent studies have shown the world’s most widely used weed killer to be safe for human use and noting that regulators around the world have approved the product.
During the first phase in the trial, the nine-person jury is asked to weigh scientific evidence to determine whether Roundup caused Hardeman’s lymphoma.
Aimee Wagstaff, a lawyer for Hardeman, told a packed courtroom during her opening statement on Monday that chemicals in Roundup made the weed killer more toxic than glyphosate alone, causing the man’s cancer.
But US District Judge Vince Chhabria, who presides over the federal litigation, repeatedly scolded her for “crossing the line” by referring to internal corporate communications the judge has said have no bearing on the science in the case.
“You completely disregarded the limitations,” Chhabria said.
In a January ruling, Chhabria called evidence by plaintiffs that the company allegedly attempted to influence regulators and manipulate public opinion “a distraction” from the scientific question of whether glyphosate causes cancer.