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Bayer to pay $10.9 billion to settle weedkiller cancer lawsuits

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By Pascale Davies  with AFP
Bayer to pay $10.9 billion to settle weedkiller cancer lawsuits
Copyright  AP Photo/Haven Daley   -  

German chemical giant Bayer said Wednesday it would pay up to $10.9 billion (9.6 billion euros) to settle a wave of lawsuits from Americans who allege its Roundup weedkiller caused their cancers. 

The dispute has been ongoing since 2018, when the firm bought the US company Monsanto, which makes Roundup. 

"The Roundup settlement is the right action at the right time for Bayer to bring a long period of uncertainty to an end," said CEO Werner Baumann in a statement.

The deal would bring closure to about 75% of the 125,000 claims, the statement said.

The surprising settlement announcement consists of a payment of $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to resolve the current Roundup claims, Bayer said, and $1.25 billion to address potential future fallout. 

Bayer still denies any wrong doing and said Roundup's main ingredient glyphosate is safe. But plaintiffs said the glyphosate weedkiller caused their illness. Many suffered from the blood cancer non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Bayer stressed that the agreement would not cover three cases currently going through the appeals process.

It included the first Roundup case brought by school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson who was eventually awarded $78.5 million.

Bayer also agreed to pay $820 million to settle decades-old complaints over toxic chemicals which cause water contamination known as  PCBs. Monsanto manufactured them before 1977, for $820 million.

It also agreed to settle US lawsuits involving dicamba herbicide which has been blamed for wrecking crops in America, by drifting on to plants unable to resist it.

Bayer's share price climbed nearly six percent following the announcement.