Australia’s agriculture minister says Roundup is safe after $16bn US cancer lawsuit
Bayer’s US settlement over Monsanto’s weedkiller has given hope to litigants in Australia
Australian Associated Press
Thu 25 Jun 2020 15.11 AEST
Australia’s agriculture minister insists the common weedkiller Roundup is safe after its manufacturer agreed to pay almost $16bn to settle cancer lawsuits in the US.
The pesticides giant Bayer agreed overnight to pay up to US$10.9bn (A$15.8bn) to settle about 95,000 cases claiming Roundup caused cancer.
The agriculture minister, David Littleproud, said labelling standards in the US were different to those in Australia.
“Our regulations and our regulatory reform has been as robust as anyone else in the world,” he told reporters in Brisbane on Thursday.
He said he was confident the government’s agricultural chemical regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, had provided the right directions.
“I’m confident that if Australians continue to use it as per the label, it is perfectly safe,” Littleproud said.
Bayer has repeatedly said Roundup is safe and important to farmers who use the herbicide.
But the decision by Roundup’s German manufacturer has given hope to litigants in Australia.
Maurice Blackburn is leading one of a number of Australia class actions against Bayer, claiming the herbicide causes certain types of cancers, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The law firm’s national head of class actions, Andrew Watson, said the US settlement had no direct impact on the Australian cases because it was made without admission of liability.
“But obviously it is very welcome news that the company has decided to settle the US litigation,” Watson told ABC TV on Thursday.
“What we would urge and hope is that the company takes a similarly sensible approach to the litigation on behalf of those Australians who have developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a result of their exposure.”
The legal disputes over Roundup were inherited with Bayer’s $US63bn takeover of Monsanto in 2018.
In May, the federal court gave the go-ahead for the Maurice Blackburn class action to be heard before any other class action about Roundup.Advertisement
The firm alleges Monsanto was negligent in selling glyphosate-based Roundup products “which they knew (or ought to have known) could cause cancer”.
Last year, Victorian landscape gardener Michael Ogalirolo, 54, launched legal action against Bayer after he developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
In a writ filed in the Victorian supreme court, he said had regularly used Roundup between 1997 and 2019 and now suffered chest pain, shortness of breath, depression and anxiety.
“The defendant knew or ought to have known the use of Roundup products were dangerous for the plaintiff to use and capable of causing serious injury … in particular causing DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, cancer, kidney disease, infertility and nerve damage, among other devastating illnesses,” the writ said.
View what herbicides are destroying.