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Bayer shares slide as US judge rules against Monsanto in cancer case

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Bayer shares are sharply lower Monday, after a US judge ruled against Monsanto – which it now owns – in a cancer case. The Californian judge said that Monsanto should have issued clear warnings over use of its weed killer products containing glyphosate.

Bayer, however, said the ingredient is not carcinogenic and is safe when used according to the instructions. The German pharmaceuticals firm said it plans to appeal the decision.

By 1235 BST, Bayer shares were 13.32% lower at €80.92. The stock has been a little mixed in recent weeks.

Monsanto weed killer product case

In 2016, a California-based grounds keeper, Dewayne Johnson, filed a lawsuit against Monsanto, stating that its weed killer product, RoundUp, was the cause of his aggressive non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

It is the first of around 5,000 cases against Monsanto, claiming that some of its weed killer products, which contain glyphosate, could be cancer-causing substances.

The California judge found against Monsanto and said it should have ensured clear warnings were issued with the garden product that it contained a potentially carcinogenic – or potentially cancer-causing – ingredient.

Bayer says Glyphosate is safe

Following the ruling Friday, Bayer said that the judge’s decision was in direct opposition with detailed scientific research proving glyphosate is not a carcinogenic substance.

“The jury’s verdict is at odds with the weight of scientific evidence, decades of real world experience and the conclusions of regulators around the world that all confirm glyphosate is safe and does not cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” Bayer said in a statement.

There remains some disagreement over the potential carcinogenic properties of glyphosate.

In 2015 the World Health Organisation classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. However, in the autumn of 2017, the US Environmental Protection Agency in September said, after a detailed and decades long study of the chemical that it likely isn’t carcinogenic to humans.

Given the level of disagreement on the chemical and despite Bayer and Monsanto’s views, there are thousands of cases against the weed killers which use the chemical, with regards to its potential carcinogenic properties.

An appeal will take time to process and even if the decision is completely reversed, this initial finding will likely prove bad news for Bayer and its Monsanto arm.

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