Shares of Bayer Inc plummeted about 12 percent in morning trading, on Wednesday, after a San Francisco jury determined that one of its products caused cancer, in favor of the plaintiff, Edwin Hardeman. The plaintiff’s attorneys note that he had developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using the Roundup, for 26 years, to help reduce weeds and poison oak around his home. The ruling now moves the trial into the next phase to determine liability and damages.
The news shook up Wall Street, shrinking Bayer’s market cap by more than $6 billion on Wednesday when the stock fell nearly 10 percent. By Thursday, the German company saw another 10 percent plunge, shaving the market cap down to just north of $62 billion. Over the past year, Bayer stock has lost more than $20 billion in market value.
This comes barely six months following an August jury-ruling that Bayer’s Monsanto unit failed to warn customers of the potential cancer risks associated with using two of its very popular weed killers: Roundup and Ranger Pro. Both of these products contain the herbicide glyphosate. The California jury at the time, ruled a $289 million verdict, an amount that the court eventually reduced to $78 million on appeals.
Now, to clear up any confusion, Bayer does more than make aspirin. The company took over control of Roundup when they acquired the agrochemical company, Monsanto, just last summer, for $66 billion.
In a statement, Bayer defends: “We are disappointed with the jury’s initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms that glyphosate-based herbicides not cause cancer.”
Bayer makes this statement, of course, amidst some 11,000+ lawsuits from farmers, home gardeners, and landscapers, alleging that the herbicide in question—Roundup—is carcinogenic. Still, Bayer remains vigilant in their claim: “We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto’s conduct has been appropriate and that the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman’s cancer.”
The company also adds, “We have great sympathy for Mr. Hardeman and his family, but an extensive body of science supports the conclusion that Roundup was not the cause of his cancer. Bayer stands behind these products and will vigorously defend them.”