A California jury has ordered Monsanto to pay up after 17 days of testimony in the case of a couple both suffering from separate cancers in connection with their long-term use of Roundup.
Alberta Pilliod, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma brain cancer in 2015, and her husband Alva Pilliod, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma that spread from his bones to his pelvis and spine, both received rewards.
Now in their 70s, the couple first began using Roundup during the 1970s and continued until just a few years ago, according to a report from U.S. Right to Know, a GMO labeling advocacy organization.
The verdict could spell big trouble for Monsanto’s new owner Bayer, which is already reeling due to reports of widespread investor unrest over the purchase of the American-based GMO and agrochemical giant.
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Bayer share prices have fallen more than 40 percent since an August 10 verdict in favor of groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, who contracted cancer after using the herbicide for years.
In the case of the Pilliods, it was found that Monsanto “engaged in conduct with malice, oppression or fraud committed by one or more officers, directors or managing agents of Monsanto.”
The couple will receive more than $2 billion between them in punitive damages, with a little more than $1 billion going to Alberta Pilliod and another $1 billion going to Alva Pilliod.
The main component of Roundup is glyphosate, which was deemed to be a “probable human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization’s IARC in spring 2015.
While the U.S. government recently deemed it to be safe, critics say that industry influence and lobbying are the real reasons for their stance.
As noted by the U.S. Right to Know, Monsanto spent millions of dollars on covert public relations campaigns to finance ghostwritten stories and articles aimed at discrediting independent scientists whose work found dangers with their herbicides.
In 2015, Monsanto worked with EPA officials to delay a review of glyphosate.
Monsanto has also enjoyed a close relationship with officials within the EPA, and the company never conducted epidemiology studies for Roundup and other formulas made with the ingredient glyphosate in order to properly evaluate cancer risks, the U.S. Right to Know article said.
The trial is the third to find that Monsanto’s herbicides cause cancer and that Monsanto has long known about it or covered it up.
With thousands of cancer cases still pending against Bayer, the company’s future as a world player in the GMOs and pesticides department is uncertain.
Over 55% of voting shareholders did not endorse management recently as part of what CNN called a “revolt” against the company, which recently took over Monsanto headquarters and pledged to pour billions of dollars into its new GMO crop division.