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Federal Jury In Roundup Cancer Lawsuit Rules Bayer AG Owes California Man $81 Million

Monsanto's widely used weed killer Roundup on a shelf in Home Depot.
File photo | Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio
A federal court jury in California has awarded $81 million to Edwin Hardeman after finding that Roundup caused him to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer that affects the immune system.

A federal jury in San Francisco has decided Bayer AG should pay $81 million to a California man who claimed the weedkiller Roundup caused his cancer.

The jury determined Wednesday to award California resident Edwin Hardeman $75 million in punitive damages and $5.9 million in compensatory damages. Hardeman, 70, used Roundup for three decades on his properties in Santa Rosa, California, and blamed the herbicide for causing him to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that affects the immune system.

The verdict comes before thousands of lawsuits against Roundup have yet to make it to trial. Bayer bought St. Louis-based Monsanto, Roundup’s manufacturer, last summer.

“It is clear from Monsanto’s actions that it does not care whether Roundup causes cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about Roundup,” Hardeman’s lawyers, Aimee Wagstaff and Jennifer Moore, wrote in an emailed statement. “It speaks volumes that not one Monsanto employee, past or present, came live to trial to defend Roundup’s safety or Monsanto’s actions.”

Bayer plans to appeal the verdict.


“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,” company officials wrote in an online statement. “The jury in this case deliberated for more than four days before reaching a causation verdict in phase one, an indication that it was very likely divided over the scientific evidence.”

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization, reported in 2015 that glyphosate, Roundup’s key ingredient, could causes cancer. In the second phase of the trial, Hardeman’s lawyers presented scientific evidence that Roundup could harm human health. They also included internal documents that showed that Monsanto tried to influence scientists who were conducting research on the safety of using glyphosate-based herbicides.

Regulators in the United States have not agreed with global health experts. The Environmental Protection Agency released an assessment in 2017 that stated that the chemical is not a likely carcinogen.

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Eli is the science and environment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.