Friday, June 28, 2019

Bayer/Monsanto trying to fix damaged image

Maker of Roundup herbicide planning to spend $5.6 billion on research to find a new weed-killer

Despite, or maybe because of, facing more than 5,000 lawsuits over its Roundup herbicide causing cancer, Bayer AG plans to spend $5.6 billion on researching a new weed-killer.

Bayer, parent company of agribusiness Monsanto, which recently lost three court cases that found the glyphosate-based weed-killer caused cancer, is desperately trying to wipe the tarnish from its image.

All three court cases are being appealed.

According to a recent story by Rachel Siegel in The Washington Post, though Bayer still insists that glyphosate is safe, it announced it's not only investing that $5.6 billion but it's pledging "to reduce the company's environmental footprint by 30 percent through 2030."

That promise, Siegel's story says, "signaled a change in tone for Bayer. On its website, along with a full-page ad in [the] Post, Bayer said, 'We listened. We learned.'"

The vow reportedly also added the following phrases: "As a new leader in agriculture, Bayer has a heightened responsibility and the unique potential to advance farming for the benefit of society and the planet. We are committed to living up to this responsibility."

Ken Cook
Siegel's piece, however, quoted Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, as saying that "if Bayer is serious about reforming its products, it has to commit to a fundamentally new paradigm for pesticides, which must start with a simple principal: This class of chemicals should not end up in people."

EWG last week published a report, the Post story asserts, that Roundup has "been detected in 21 oat-based cereals and snack products tested by the organization."

Siegel apparently believes Monsanto/Bayer "underestimated the reputational damage" that stemmed from the losing lawsuits "and how they damaged the company's public perception."

The Post also quotes Anthony Johndrow, an expert on how corporations manage crises, to the effect that Bayer is making its decisions more transparent and "is sincerely making a change."

Bayer, he indicates, knew what they were getting when they bought Monsanto last June: "This is their going forward, whether they like it or not."

When a jury recently awarded $2 billion to a Livermore couple who blamed Roundup for their non-Hodgkins lymphoma diagnoses, the verdict added to Bayer's steep stock descent to its lowest level in seven years, erasing more than 40 percent of its market value.

To read about more court cases involving manufacturers sued because their products caused disease, check out "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Is Calif. too liberal to try Roundup cancer cases?

Maker of weed-killer Roundup gets change-of-venue win in cases that contend product causes disease

A federal court judge in San Francisco has handed Monsanto a big victory in its bid to ward off large money verdicts in trials alleging that its Roundup weed-killer causes cancer.

According to a recent online Courthouse News Service story by Helen Christophi, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria is giving the agribusiness a chance to pick the venue of upcoming trials.

Monsanto, which is owned by Bayer AG, had sought to have the trials take place "in agricultural states where farmers heavily depend on the company's glyphosate-based herbicides Roundup and Ranger Pro, and where medical-causation laws favor the defendants," the article explains. 

Chhabria oversees nationwide litigation over the product.
Brian Stekloff
Monsanto was represented by Brian Stekloff of the Washington, D.C., law firm Wilkinson Walsh Eskovitz, who admitted that the company was looking to try the cases in states more favorable to his clients than liberal California.

Aimee Wagstaff of the Colorado law firm Andrus Wagstaff has been representing the plaintiffs.

The judge's ruling followed Monsanto losing three trials in a row in California courts in which plaintiffs testified that they developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after using Roundup.

The World Health Organization's cancer agency in 2015 had declared the weed-killer's main ingredient, glyphosate, a probable human carcinogen.

Chhabria also postponed the next bellwether case until Feb. 10 of next year. It had been scheduled to start this month.

More information on litigation regarding products that may cause disease can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Monday, June 10, 2019

FDA finds bodies are absorbing chemicals

Stop your worrying — a new study indicates you can keep smearing on sunscreens to prevent skin cancer 

Worries about skin cancer should supersede concerns about absorbing sunscreen into the bloodstream.
Dr. Aaron E. Carroll

At least that's the conclusion of a new study reported online today by Dr. Aaron E. Carroll in The New York Times.

Skin cancer, the article says, "is the most common malignancy in the United States, affecting more than three million people each year."

But sunscreens, it asserts, "are a key component of preventing skin damage that can lead to skin cancer." 

Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine who notes that recommendations against UV exposure "apply to everyone," suggests some folks who want to be extra safe switch to sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide — inorganic compounds that aren't absorbed into the body but sit on the skin reflecting or absorbing the sun's harmful rays.

But even using sunscreens without those two components are unlikely to put you in peril.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) study, published in JAMA, tested  24 healthy people. It found that continued use of sunscreens did lead to an accumulation of potentially dangerous chemicals in the body — avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrlene and ecamsule.

More information about scientific research into consumer products can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.