(Reuters) – A US judge on Wednesday suggested that Bayer AG include a warning label on Roundup as part of a proposed $ 2 billion solution to resolve future claims that the best-selling herbicide causes cancer.
Bayer asked the US District. San Francisco Judge Vince Chhabria provisionally approves the settlement agreement, which would provide a framework for resolving future trials over Roundup allegations of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The company has said that decades of studies have shown Roundup and glyphosate, the main active ingredient, are safe for human use. An agency for the World Health Organization said in 2015 that glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic to humans."
"For years I have wondered why Monsanto would not do it voluntarily to protect itself," Judge Chhabria said of a warning label. He said a label would prevent further trials and free up money to create a better deal for already exposed people.
He even suggested formulating a label and adjusting it when he received feedback from Bayer's lawyer.
William Hoffman, a Bayer lawyer, said he doubted the proposed label would protect against future trials.
The deal would cover two types of Roundup users. Those with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma but who have not retained a lawyer were described by the judge as "class one" and are likely to include many migrant farm workers.
Class two covers healthy people who have been exposed to Roundup and become ill in the future.
"A settlement of this type could potentially be reasonable for class one," Judge Chhabria said, informing class members of their rights and providing compensation of up to $ 200,000.
For Class Two, Judge Chhabria spent hours discussing his concerns about the plan, including the likelihood that currently healthy Roundup users would never read their class settlement notice or understand the settlement proposal. too distant, he said.
The judge said it would "take a while" before deciding on the prior approval request, "provided you do not return and say you withdraw it."
If the setting element gets preliminary approval, Roundup users can opt out in the next few months and retain their full legal rights. Those who become part of the class would be eligible for free medical examinations and up to $ 200,000 if they develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma during the four-year term of the agreement.
"We appreciate the direction of the court," Bayer said in a statement on Thursday. “It is common for courts to request certain adjustments to class agreements such as this and we are convinced that we, in collaboration with class advisers, will be able to address the issues raised by the court. We are still determined to resolve the Roundup disputes.
The agreement would pause all disputes for four years and prevent class members from claiming damages if they refuse compensation and ultimately decide to sue.
The stakes are high. Bayer has said that more than half of its herbicide revenues, which amounted to almost 5 billion euros ($ 6 billion) by 2020, were related to glyphosate.
Bayer has already spent years committing $ 9.6 billion to resolve existing lawsuits, which are separate from the future settlement process discussed in court on Wednesday. The company inherited Roundup in its acquisition of Monsanto for $ 63 billion in 201
Critics of the settlement say the proposal would unfairly limit consumers' legal rights.
Judge Chhabria said the biggest risk for Roundup users opting out was the United States. The Supreme Court ruling that upheld Bayer's view that a federal pesticide law prevented lawsuits alleging the company failed to warn users about glyphosate. million dollars for the plaintiff.
One of these trials, a $ 25 million verdict by the federal jury against Bayer, was upheld by an appeals court on Friday.
Bayer said it would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.