Bayer would consider settlements in Monsanto weedkiller cases, CEO says

Bayer CEO Werner Baumann said this week the company might consider settling lawsuits over weedkillers made by Monsanto, but he emphasized the company will continue to defend itself against claims the weedkillers cause cancer, Reuters reports.

Bayer, the German seed and chemical conglomerate, bought Monsanto this year for $63 billion. Monsanto, the Creve Coeur-based seed and chemical maker, faces numerous lawsuits over claims that its weedkillers containing the chemical glyphosate have caused cancer.

Baumann’s assertion comes the same week as the plaintiff in the first such case to reach trial accepted a court-mandated reduction of punitive damages, Reuters reports.

Dewayne Johnson, a groundskeeper in the San Francisco Bay Area, sued Monsanto in 2016, saying the chemical caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. On Wednesday, he accepted a total award that was reduced to $78 million, down from the jury’s verdict of $289 million.

Bayer faces 8,700 lawsuits over glyphosate. The company maintains the chemical is safe for human use, but Baumann said it would consider settlements when “the defense costs in preparing cases are higher than potential settlement amounts.”

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