Tensions are high for Bayer AG right now. After acquiring controversial farming biotech corporation Monsanto last year, its shares have plummeted in the wake of multiple court losses. Those cases allege the widely used herbicide Roundup causes cancer in longtime customers, due to a key ingredient called glyphosate.
The most recent verdict came yesterday, which as CNN reports, “A jury handed an unparalleled $2.055 billion verdict in favor of a couple in California who say their cancer was caused by long-term exposure to Monsanto’s popular weed killer Roundup, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.” A California jury ruled in favor of Alva and Albert Pilliod, 74 and 76 respectively, who used Roundup on their property for decades and were both diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the span of four years. While the EPA recently announced that glyphosate is not a carcinogen, skepticism remains about whether the compound is truly harmless. (If you need further reasons to hate on glyphosate, here’s exhibit G.)
It’s now the third case in which the jury has ruled against Bayer, and as Bloomberg notes, Monsanto is a defendant in related U.S. lawsuits filed by at least 13,400 plaintiffs. Bayer plans to dispute the ruling, and as several sources have acknowledged, the $2.055 billion verdict will likely be reduced in the coming months.
However, the verdict illustrated in no uncertain terms the jury’s interest in throwing the book at Bayer. Nowhere was this more visible than in an unidentified juror’s reported post-verdict remarks to a Bayer lawyer:
When the company’s lawyer asked a juror after the verdict what the panel wanted to hear from Bayer, the juror responded that he wanted proof the chemical was safe: “I wanted you to get up and drink it.” The juror declined to be identified.
A Monsanto lobbyist did once claim in a televised interview that “you could drink a whole quart of [Roundup] and it won’t hurt you,”—though when offered, thought it was a convenient time to end the interview. For the record, since we live in a world of Tide Pods challenges and the like, The Takeout would like to remind you that nobody should drink Roundup, for any reason at any time.