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Roundup in U.S. business (archive image)

Photo: Haven Daley / dpa

Bayer has suffered another defeat in the glyphosate lawsuits in the United States. A jury in Philadelphia on Tuesday ordered the company to pay $3.5 million to a woman who attributed her cancer to Bayer's glyphosate-containing weed killer Roundup.

The ruling by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas could increase investor pressure on the company to quickly settle thousands of similar Roundup lawsuits to avoid further court rulings.

Prior to the ruling in Philadelphia, the Leverkusen-based pharmaceutical and agricultural group had lost four lawsuits within a short period of time – the most recent with a payment of $1.56 billion – after Bayer had previously won nine lawsuits in a row. Bayer has announced that it will appeal.

Like most of the plaintiffs in Roundup cases, Kelly Martel, who lives in Pennsylvania, claimed to have developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a malignant disease of the lymphatic tissue, from contact with Roundup.

According to Bayer, 52,000 of the total of around 165,000 lawsuits filed were still open. The company had brought the lawsuits in-house with the takeover of the glyphosate developer Monsanto. Bayer has always denied the allegations against the herbicide.

Huge reserves built up for litigation

The use of glyphosate has been controversial worldwide for years. The product is important for agriculture, but can affect the environment and, according to the World Health Organization's Agency for Research on Cancer (WHO), is suspected of being carcinogenic. In the U.S., thousands of cases of cancers allegedly caused by glyphosate ended up in court. Bayer was partly acquitted, partly ordered to pay damages or paid as part of settlements.

Bayer acquired glyphosate manufacturer Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion. The Group has set aside provisions of 16 billion US dollars for the many proceedings.