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Monsanto Roundup $7M Settlement

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Bayer and Monsanto have agreed to pay nearly $7 million to settle claims by the New York Attorney General for falsely advertising that Roundup is safe.

New York, NYBayer and its Monsanto unit agreed in June to pay almost $7 million to settle Roundup lawsuit claims which began in a 2020 investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The agreement requires Bayer and Monsanto to stop advertising its Roundup weedkiller—which contains carcinogenic glyphosate—as environmentally safe.

Roundup has been advertised as safe, non-toxic, harmless or without risk to pollinators and wildlife; that it "won't harm anything but weeds" and "do not pose a threat to the health of animal wildlife," and was even suggested in since-removed YouTube videos that Roundup was safer than detergent and soap, reported Reuters.

As part of the settlement, New York Attorney General Letitia James said the companies are required to submit yearly compliance reports. James accused Bayer and Monsanto in their claims of violating state laws against false and misleading advertising, and breached Monsanto's 1996 settlement with New York when it committed to stop making unsubstantiated claims regarding the safety of Roundup products that contained glyphosate. In a press release, James said:

“Pesticides can cause serious harm to the health of our environment, and pose a deadly threat to wildlife, including pollinators and other species vital to agriculture…It is essential that pesticide companies — even and especially the most powerful ones — are honest with consumers about the dangers posed by their products so that they can be used responsibly. Once again, Monsanto and … Bayer made false and misleading claims about the safety of their products.”

The $6.9 million will be spent on reducing the harms from toxic pesticides on pollinators and aquatic life, and potentially paying research, monitoring, education, and habitat management and restoration. (The specific programs and projects that will be supported with these funds have yet to be determined, according to the New York Attorney General's Office.)

As per usual, Bayer did not admit or deny wrongdoing. In a statement, Bayer said it was pleased to settle and that the attorney general investigation reached no scientific conclusions about Roundup.

Since Bayer purchased Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion, it has spent a lot of time and money on litigating claims that Roundup causes cancer. In 2020 it settled a majority of claims for $10.9 billion. At the beginning of 2023 approximately 109,000 of the 154,000 Roundup claims had either been settled or deemed ineligible.

Bayer’s attorneys were busy in the last few months. One month before the above agreement, a California federal judge granted class certification to Bayer investors who accuse the company of downplaying litigation risks over Roundup after acquiring Monsanto. And a Missouri jury cleared Monsanto of liability in a gardener's suit claiming Roundup caused her lymphoma. Also in May, Bayer had seven straight victories in trials over Roundup.

In June the Arkansas Supreme Court refused to overturn a state judge's order that the company's former CEO must testify in a man's lawsuit alleging the weedkiller caused his cancer. More Roundup lawsuits filed at the state court level are scheduled for trial later this year in California and Florida courts. 


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