Will Monsanto axe Bayer?

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]onsanto has been ordered to pay USD289m to Dewayne Johnson, a caretaker, who used a glyphosate-containing product (i.e. RoundUp) from Monsanto.

Times are changing for Monsanto

After the highest court in Brazil decided to ban the right to sell glyphosate-containing herbicides in early August, the jury of the San Francisco court delivered the judgment that Monsanto’s glyphosate-containing products have materially contributed to the cancer of the prosecutor.

Dewayne Johnson suffers from Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a group of blood cancers that includes all types of lymphomas except for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. According the National Cancer Institute, there could be ~75,000 new cases and ~20,000 deaths in the US in 2018 from this type of cancer.

The five-year survival rate is 71.4%, which is below breast or prostate cancers, but above colon and rectum cancers. This spectacular financial claim is divided into a compensatory part of USD39m and a payment for putative damages of USD250m.
We understand that the US jurisdiction works differently to that in Europe, which is not known for such high compensation claims.

However, this is the first positive court decision, but there is no signed cheque as Monsanto/Bayer is expected to appeal against it. Regardless of how the appeal ends, the decision could be a branch for other trials in the US.

Discordant discussions

Scientific bodies have not yet come to a final and clear finding as to whether glyphosate causes cancer, despite all the studies conducted to find this out. So the discussions about this look more like a ‘religious war’ between the representatives of the two parties.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the EU environmental authorities abnegate glyphosate triggering cancer, whereas WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies glyphosate as potentially cancerous for human beings. Trying to follow the discussions of whether it is or is not cancerous, one could get quite confused.

At sea and before court, one is in God’s hand.

We see an increasing risk for Bayer to have to make higher payments triggered by the glyphosate trials, which will need greater provisions and could also lead to higher write-offs in the coming years.

Bayer had already announced it would remove the (brand) name ‘Monsanto’, which has still to be ‘digested’ in the P&L.

After the loss of the right to distribute in one of the largest agro markets (Brazil) in less than 30 days and the changing tide in the US (>5,000 similar lawsuits are pending in the US), an adjustment is more than legitimate.

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