Farmers unfazed by Roundup lawsuits - Bayer

Containers of Roundup are displayed on a store shelf in San Francisco. AP Photo
Containers of Roundup are displayed on a store shelf in San Francisco. AP Photo

Farmers are unperturbed by lawsuits seeking damages from Bayer for an alleged cancer-causing effect of glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, the company's CEO has said.

“There is extremely strong support among farmers, who are imploring us to keep this crop chemical - which is systemically relevant for the preparation of fields - on the market,” Chief Executive Werner Baumann told journalists in a conference call.

He added third-quarter herbicide sales were roughly on par with the year-earlier level.

Bayer is now facing 42,700 U.S. plaintiffs blaming its glyphosate-based weedkillers for their cancer, more than twice the tally in July, raising the stakes in the group’s efforts to reach a settlement.

It has been widely speculated that Bayer will eventually buy itself out of the litigation, with analysts currently estimating the size of a future settlement at $8-$12 billion.

The company put the increase in claims down to a significant increase in plaintiff-side television advertising spending.

"The number of lawsuits, first and foremost, doesn't tell us anything about their merits," Chief Executive Werner Baumann said in a media call. "The number of the lawsuits in no way, shape or form is indicative of the amount of the settlement."

The company said it was still constructively engaged in a mediation process ordered by a federal judge.

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Bayers value has fallen 30pc in value since last August, when a California jury in the first such lawsuit found Monsanto should have warned of the alleged cancer risks associated with its glyphosate-based weedkillers such as Roundup.

Analysts said the knocked-down share price reflects market expectations for the lawsuits to eventually cost as much as $20 billion.

Bayer has ruled out withdrawing from the market in the U.S., saying regulators and extensive research have found glyphosate to be safe. It is holding out for U.S. appeals courts early next year to reverse the first three court rulings that have so far awarded tens of millions of dollars to each plaintiff.

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