Bayer shares plunge on new U.S. cancer ruling

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"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms that glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer".

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) - The threat to German chemical giant Bayer and subsidiary Monsanto from USA litigation swelled Wednesday, when its share price plunged after a jury ruled weedkiller Roundup was a "substantial factor" in an amateur gardener's cancer.

The Hardeman's case is considered a landmark trial for hundreds of other plaintiffs in the USA with similar claims, which means the verdict could affect future litigation and other cancer patients and families.

Evidence is nearly certain to resurface that Monsanto ghostwrote scientific literature and influenced regulators to claim that Roundup is safe.

DeWayne Johnson had earlier been awarded $289 million in his case.

In the next phase of the federal trial, Mr Hardeman's lawyers will present evidence, including internal Monsanto documents, that could show the company knew the dangers of Roundup and glyphosate and attempted to cover them up.

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Monsanto, which has sold Roundup worldwide for more than 40 years, contends that scores of studies show the products are not unsafe if properly used.

In the next phase of the case, the jury will consider liability and damages, The Guardianreported.

While evidence that Roundup causes cancer is "quite equivocal", he wrote, "there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto doesn't particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue".

Jurors in federal glyphosate multidistrict litigation in San Francisco found that that use of glyphosate caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in the plaintiff, Edwin Hardeman.

Activist investor Elliott already holds a stake of less than 3 percent in Bayer, Reuters disclosed past year.

The ruling is a blow to Bayer, whose subsidiary Monsanto makes the herbicide.

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Mr Hardeman's lawyers said they would show evidence of Monsanto's "bad conduct" in the next stage of the trial.

Another Roundup trial is scheduled to begin in California state court in Oakland on March 28, involving a couple who claim Roundup caused their non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The case was only the second of some 11,200 Roundup lawsuits to go to trial in the US. Bayer acquired Monsanto, the longtime maker of Roundup, for $63 billion a year ago.

Bayer probably assumed settlements of as much as 5 billion euros ($5.7 billion) when assessing the purchase, said Markus Manns, a fund manager at Union Investment, one of Bayer's top 15 shareholders, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

However, the US Environmental Protection Agency insists it is safe when used carefully. Even as more cases are waiting to be heard in USA courts, more cancer sufferers are also queuing to file suits against Monsanto.

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