The people of Missouri, at least according to a class-action lawsuit filed in the state capital, have a message for Bayer when it comes to Roundup: we’d like a refund.
That is the aim of a class-action lawsuit filed against Roundup manufacturer Bayer in a Kansas City courtroom. The lawsuit alleges that Bayer was fraudulent in its marketing and advertising of the world’s most popular herbicide and weed killer and as a result, purchases of the product were based on false claims.
Most of those claims pertained to the perception of safety around the product. So, when people started winning multi-million, and in some cases multi-billion-dollar lawsuits against Bayer as juries determined that Roundup was causing them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, those claims of safety had to come into question.
Roundup was originally created and marketed by Monsanto; one of the world’s most secretive and controversial agricultural corporations. Monsanto was acquired by Bayer last year in a deal worth $63 billion. As a result, Bayer is now responsible for the claims surrounding Roundup.
For its part, the corporation has said that the Missouri Roundup lawsuit “has no merit” and continues to cite EPA studies and other evidence that it says shows that glyphosate; the key ingredient in Roundup, is safe when used as directed. The EPA, the corporation says, “has considered and approved the labels for our glyphosate-based herbicides based on their expert assessment of the extensive body of research and their conclusions that these herbicides can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic.” Bayer continues by mentioning that “more than 800 rigorous studies submitted to EPA, European and other regulators” further confirm glyphosate’s safety.
What the corporation fails to mention while professing its innocence, however, is that some of those studies were funded by Monsanto. And some were even written from within Monsanto’s walls.
Bayer has lost all three Roundup cancer verdicts that have gone to trial but the case that started it all was that of California school groundskeeper Dewayne “Lee” Johnson. Johnson’s case was the first that was permitted to introduce evidence of Monsanto’s extensive attempts to shape conversations around glyphosate, influence scientists and government regulators, and create its own reality around its extraordinarily profitable herbicide. The evidence introduced in the Johnson trial and subsequent matters has brought a veritable treasure trove of internal Monsanto communications to light that would otherwise have gone unseen and shows a corporation working furiously to contain the truth about one of the key products in its catalog.
The financial impact of a state-wide refund for every Roundup purchase in Missouri could be significant. According to a since-removed page on farmland.org, farmland accounts for over half the total acreage of the state and is tied with Tennessee for the fourth-largest number of farms in the United States. However, the legal ramifications of determining actual fraud in Roundup’s representation to the public could poke yet another hole in a dam that, at least based on the numbers, appears already to be on the verge of a complete failure.