By Tom Hals and Tina Bellon
(Reuters) – Bayer AG struck a $2 billion deal to resolve future legal claims that its widely used weedkiller Roundup causes cancer, the German company said on Wednesday.
Bayer has been struggling to finalize the settlement of claims that Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer. Bayer inherited the business and the litigation as part of a $63 billion acquisition of Monsanto in 2018.
The company has said that decades of studies have shown Roundup and glyphosate are safe for human use.
Wednesday’s settlement would cover future claims brought by individuals who have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and were exposed to Roundup before their diagnosis. The settlement also includes benefits for people who were exposed to Roundup and develop the cancer in the future.
Roundup, which Monsanto first brought to the market in 1974, is widely used by farmers across the United States and Brazil, alongside crops that are genetically engineered to withstand the its herbicidal effect.
Glyphosate will remain on the market. Bayer agreed to seek permission from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to provide a reference link on labels so consumers can find scientific studies on the weedkiller.
Under the proposed plan, Bayer will provide $2 billion for a four-year period as compensation and to cover outreach and diagnostic assistance. Future claimants could receive up to $200,000 under the deal.
The parties can agree to extend the settlement period.
The company said the settlement amount was disclosed last year.
The agreement must be approved by U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco.
Chhabria in June questioned the legality of a prior settlement plan that Bayer proposed, which envisioned creating a panel of scientists who would rule on the viability of claims.
Under the revised deal, anyone who does not make a claim during the four-year period would then be able to sue in court, according Elizabeth Cabraser, an attorney for the proposed class. She also said anyone diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma who does not like their compensation offer under the class plan can go to the court system and try for a better result.
In June, Bayer reached a wider $9.6 billion settlement that would resolve the bulk of the more than 100,000 U.S. lawsuits that were already filed over Roundup.
Bayer’s stock has been battered by the litigation, but also by billions of euros in writedowns, and a bleaker profit outlook, in large part related to the $63 billion Monsanto takeover.
The group last year announced 9.25 billion euros in impairment charges on agricultural assets and shocked markets by predicting a slight decline in core earnings per share in 2021 on weaker demand by farmers.
(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Noeleen Walder)