German pharmaceutical giant Bayer reported on Wednesday that the number of US plaintiffs suing over weed killer Roundup has more than doubled over the past three months, reaching 42,700.
Bayer has blamed the explosive growth of lawsuits on massive spending on TV advertising by lawyers seeking new plaintiffs over controversial active ingredient glyphosate. The number of lawsuits in July was 18,400.
“This significant increase is clearly driven by the plaintiff-side television advertising spend which is estimated to have roughly doubled in the third quarter compared with the entire first half of the year,” Bayer said, adding: “However, the number of lawsuits says nothing about their merits.”
The wave of lawsuits in the US followed Bayer’s takeover of seeds and pesticides maker Monsanto last year. The $63 billion deal was one of the largest foreign acquisitions in German corporate history.
The drug company says it continued to be constructively engaged in a mediation process ordered by a federal judge in California.
Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, which has been repeatedly blamed for causing cancer, has already taken tens of billions of euros off Bayer’s market value. The company’s shares have lost about 30 percent of their value since August, when a California jury in the first such lawsuit found Monsanto should have warned of the alleged cancer risks.
Bayer denies all the accusations related to health risks, pointing out that regulators and extensive research have found glyphosate poses no risk.The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reaffirmed this year that the active ingredient found in Roundup is safe.
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