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California state glyphosate trial

| June 13, 2019

Bayer is disappointed with the jury’s decision in favour of Mr. and Mrs Pilliod, the plaintiffs, in the Californian Courts and it has announced that it will appeal the verdict, which Bayer claims conflicts directly with; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s interim registration review decision released just last month; the consensus among leading health regulators worldwide that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic; and the 40 years of extensive scientific research on which their favourable conclusions are based.

HQ of Bayer Agriculture Monheim. Photo: Bayer

The company said it had great sympathy for Mr. and Mrs Pilliod, but the evidence in this case was clear that both have long histories of illnesses known to be substantial risk factors for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), it asserted that most NHL has no known cause, and there is no reliable scientific evidence to conclude that glyphosate-based herbicides were the “but for” cause of their illnesses as the jury was required to find in this case.

The company pointed out that the contrast between today’s verdict and the EPA’s conclusion that there are “no risks to public health from the current registered uses of glyphosate” could not be more stark. “The EPA’s conclusion is based on a database of more than 800 studies on glyphosate and Bayer’s glyphosate-based herbicides that relate to human and mammalian health, and its 2017 cancer risk assessment also examined numerous studies in the open literature,” said Bayer.
The company believes the plaintiffs presented the jury with cherry-picked findings from a tiny fraction of the volume of studies available, and that failed to adjust for exposure to other pesticides, did not have statistically significant results, had very small exposed populations and/or are at odds with the full body of science.
The verdict in this trial has no impact on future cases and trials, as each one has its own factual and legal circumstances. Also, this litigation will take some time before it concludes as no case has been subject to appellate review where key legal rulings in the trials will be assessed. The company will continue to evaluate and refine its legal strategies as it moves through the next phase of this litigation, which will be marked by a greater focus on post-trial motions and appellate review and trials scheduled in different venues.
Bayer points out that the largest and most recent epidemiologic study – the 2018 independent National Cancer Institute-supported long-term study that followed over 50,000 pesticide applicators for more than 20 years and was published after the IARC monograph – found no association between glyphosate-based herbicides and cancer. Additionally, EPA’s 2017 post-IARC cancer risk assessment examined more than 100 studies the agency considered relevant and concluded that glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans”, its most favourable rating, while the agency’s April 2019 interim registration review decision on glyphosate also reaffirmed that “there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label and that glyphosate is not a carcinogen”.
All 107 Bayer-owned glyphosate safety study reports that were submitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as part of the substance authorization process in the European Union (EU) are now accessible on Bayer’s dedicated transparency platform.
“Transparency is a catalyst for trust, so more transparency is a good thing for consumers, policymakers and businesses. As an innovation company, safety is our top priority and we are completely committed to doing everything we can to ensure that our products are safe for people and the environment,” said Liam Condon, president of the Crop Science Division. “By making our detailed scientific safety data available, we encourage anyone interested to see for themselves how comprehensive our approach to safety is. We embrace the opportunity to engage in dialogue so we can build more trust in sound science.”
This new addition to the Bayer Transparency platform follows last December’s publication of more than 300 glyphosate safety study summaries submitted under the EU substance authorization process for plant protection products. Access has now been enabled to all the related in-depth glyphosate safety studies to which Bayer wholly owns the rights.
Bayer stands behind the safety of glyphosate and says it will continue to vigorously defend its glyphosate-based products. The company wants to ensure the conversation around glyphosate is accurate and will continue to share information on the strong body of science that it believes confirms glyphosate and glyphosate-based products are safe when used as directed and that glyphosate does not cause cancer.

Published in International Pest Control – May/June 2019 issue.

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