Shares in German pharmaceutical giant Bayer have tumbled following the $289 million (£226 million) damages award against Monsanto over its Roundup and RangerPro weedkillers.
Monsanto owner Bayer’s shares had lost 10.4% of their value by mid-morning today, as investors reacted to the California jury’s ruling that the Roundup and RangerPro weedkillers gave a groundsman non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The weedkillers contain glyphosate, a known carcinogenic that Monsanto has used since the 1970s, and other manufacturers now widely utilise in their herbicides.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, of the World Health Organization, warned in 2015 that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans”, but US and EU health agencies have declined to ban its use, arguing that it’s safe to use in moderation and unlikely to cause cancer.
The jury sitting in the trial in San Francisco took eight weeks to rule that Monsanto acted maliciously and that its weed killers contributed substantially to groundsman Dewayne Johnson’s illness.
It ordered Monsanto to pay $250 million (£196 million) in punitive damages and other costs, bringing the total figure to almost $290 million.
Bayer has dismissed the ruling, arguing that science, the conclusions of regulators around the world and decades of experience show that glyphosate is safe for use and does not cause cancer when used according to the label.
The German pharmaceutical company said it plans to appeal against the ruling. It is thought that Johnson is one of 5,000 similar plaintiffs across the US.