Some are calling the new farm bill a “get out of jail free” card for Roundup maker Bayer. The recent farm bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee includes language that advocates say is designed to shield Bayer from future Roundup lawsuits.

The farm bill provision, drafted with the help of Roundup lobbyists, will “require uniformity in national pesticide labeling, and prohibit any State, instrumentality or political subdivision thereof, or a court from directly or indirectly imposing or continuing in effect any requirements for, or penalize or hold liable any entity for failing to comply with requirements with respect to, labeling or packaging that is in addition to or different from the labeling or packaging approved by the Administrator of the  Environmental Protection Agency.”

As of June 2024, more than 4,285 Roundup lawsuits were still open out of more than 4,859 cases filed in the federal multidistrict litigation in California. Back in January, a Philadelphia jury awarded $2.25 billion to a Pennsylvania man who claimed Roundup caused him to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This case followed five others in which plaintiffs were awarded settlements in 2023.

Bayer Settlement Offers

In 2023, Bayer agreed to pay $6.9 million to settle claims filed by the New York Attorney General alleging the company misled customers about Roundup’s safety. The settlement funds will go to reduce the harmful effects of pesticides on bees, other pollinators and aquatic species.

In 2021, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria rejected Bayer’s $2 billion offer to settle all future Roundup cancer claims. The judge deemed the offer was unreasonable and ordered the parties to present a better offer.

“Bayer is a massive, wealthy company, and it continues to make money specifically from Roundup sales. Nor is there any indication that the company will cease its efforts to settle cases,” Judge Chhabria said in a May 2021 order.

Although Bayer has submitted an offer of up to $10.9 billion to settle more than 100,000 Roundup personal injury claims, thousands of the cases are still pending.

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The Basis of Roundup Litigation

Individuals around the U.S. are pursuing legal action, alleging that Monsanto’s herbicide led to their diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma or other related cancers. They contend that Bayer, along with its Monsanto subsidiary, failed to inform the public about the carcinogenic risks associated with Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate. The lawsuits also accuse the company of intentionally misleading the public regarding Roundup’s safety.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys have presented internal corporate communications in court, suggesting that the company may have concealed the cancer risk linked to Roundup for years. Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018, asserts that Roundup is safe but discontinued residential sales in 2023 while continuing to offer commercial formulations.

Bayer officials continue to cite over 800 studies submitted to the EPA, asserting that glyphosate is safe and “does not cause cancer.”