Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Maker of Roundup weedkiller solicits help from lawmakers to protect it from suits about cancer

Bayer, manufacturer of Roundup, the country's best-selling pesticide, is seeking help from legislators to protect it from claims that it failed to warn buyers about cancer risks.

According to an Associated Press story by Hannah Fingerhut and David A. Lieb in yesterday's editions of the San Francisco Chronicle, chemical giant Bayer, "stung by paying billions of dollars for settlements and trials, has been lobbying lawmakers in three states to pass bills providing it a legal shield from lawsuits that claim its popular weedkiller Roundup causes cancer."

Legal experts warn that identical bills introduced in Iowa, Missouri, and Idaho this year, with wording supplied by Bayer, could have even broader consequences — "extending to any product liability claim or, in Iowa's case, providing immunity from lawsuits of any kind," the article contends.

Matt Clement
The piece quotes Matt Clement, a Jefferson City, Missouri, attorney who represents people suing Bayer, to the effect that "it's just not good government to give a company immunity for things that they're not telling their consumers. If they're successful in getting this passed in Missouri, I think they'll be trying to do this all over the country."

Some 167,000 legal claims against Bayer, the Fingerhut/Lieb story says, contend that Roundup causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The corporation already has "suffered several losses in which juries awarded huge initial judgments," the article goes on, and "has paid about $10 billion while thousands of claims linger in court."

Roundup's main ingredient, glyphosate, is derived from phosphate mined in Idaho. 

The debate over whether glyphosate is truly a demon in the weedkiller equation "escalated when a 2015 report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, said it's 'probably carcinogenic to humans,' a decision that was based on some evidence of cancer in people as well as evidence in study animals."

The federal Environmental Protection Agency, on the other hand, had regularly concluded that it's not likely to be carcinogenic to humans "when used as directed," the AP story contends. A federal appeals court panel in 2022, on a third hand, ordered the EPA to further review the situation after ruling that the agency's decision "was not supported by substantial evidence," the Fingerhut/Lieb piece continues.

The story ends by quoting John Gilbert, an Iowa Falls farmer who's used Roundup only in a limited fashion. He calls local Republicans hypocritical for attempting to protect corporate interests after campaigning on standing up for Iowans' interests.

The final paragraph of the story: "The bill 'invites a lot of reckless disregard,' said  Gilbert, who is on the board for the Iowa Farmers Union. 'No amount of perfume's gonna make it anything but a skunk."

More information about politics surrounding the risks of 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.

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