Australia Nufarm shares plunge 17 pct after Monsanto weedkiller cancer finding

The active ingredient glyphosate is used in a number of weedkillers but the best known is Roundup

Shares in German farm chemicals, materials and drug company Bayer have plunged in the wake of a USA court verdict against Monsanto, which Bayer has acquired.

Having closed the Monsanto takeover, Bayer is only awaiting some final antitrust-related asset sales before folding it into its own organization.

Shares of Bayer plunged more than 10 per cent to their lowest in nearly two years after a California jury ordered the German company's subsidiary Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages last week.

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If the litigation generates large verdicts against Monsanto, it could have a material impact on Bayer's bottom line, said Chris Perrella, an analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.

Monsanto scientists knew of the cancer risk posed by Roundup as far back as the 1970s, but failed to inform the public and instead engaged in a "deliberate effort to distort the truth" as the weedkiller generated hefty returns, Mr Johnson's lawyer, Brent Wisner, told the jury in closing arguments last Tuesday.


Monsanto has lost a court case in the USA based on whether or not Roundup caused a groundskeeper's cancer.

She said glyphosate - the world's most common herbicide - had an environmental benefit.

The California state court verdict against Monsanto for this plaintiff indicates that EPA's safety conclusion for glyphosate exposure may not be an insurmountable obstacle to other juries potentially finding that Roundup caused or contributed to thousands of other plaintiffs' cancers. Bayer may have to shell out a hefty amount in damages for its recent purchase when other cases against Monsanto go to trial. "We have confirmed that we will be reviewing our range of weedkiller products", a spokesperson for the company said.

"More than 800 scientific studies, the US EPA, the National Institutes of Health and regulators around the world have concluded that glyphosate is safe for use and does not cause cancer", said Monsanto's vice president of strategy, according to CNN. And in that trial, Johnson was awarded $39 million in compensatory and $250 million in punitive damages from Monsanto.

Johnson's job as pest control manager of San Francisco Bay Area schools required him to spray gallons of Roundup and a smiliar weedkiller, Ranger Pro, as many as 30 times a year.

But George Lombardi, an attorney for Monsanto, said non-Hodgkin's lymphoma takes years to develop, so Johnson's cancer must have started well before he began working at the school district.

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