BERLIN (AP) — Bayer said Wednesday that it will pay up to $10.9 billion to settle litigation over the weedkiller Roundup, which has faced thousands of lawsuits over claims it causes cancer.
Bayer said it was also paying up $1.22 billion to settle two additional areas of intense litigation: one involving toxic chemical PCB in water and one involving dicamba, another weedkiller.
The company said the settlement over Roundup, which is made by its Monsanto subsidiary, involves about 125,000 filed and unfiled claims. Under the agreement, Bayer will make a payment of $8.8 billion-$9.6 billion to resolve current litigation, and $1.25 billion to address potential future litigation, even as the company continues to maintain that Roundup is safe.
"In short, this is the right action at the right time for Bayer," CEO Werner Baumann said during a conference call with reporters. In a statement, he called the settlement "financially reasonable when viewed against the significant financial risks of continued, multi-year litigation and the related impacts to our reputation and to our business."
Monsanto developed glyphosate — a key ingredient in Roundup — in the 1970s. The weedkiller has been sold in more than 160 countries and widely used in the U.S. Bayer, which bought St. Louis-based Monsanto in 2018, said last year that all government regulators that have looked at the issue have rejected a link between cancer and glyphosate.
The herbicide came under increasing scrutiny after the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, classified it as a "probable human carcinogen" in 2015.
Lawsuits against Monsanto followed. Monsanto has attacked the international research agency's opinion as an outlier. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said glyphosate is safe for people when used in accordance with label directions.
Attorney Robin Greenwald, of the New York law firm Weitz & Luxenberg, which represented several people who filed suit against Monsanto, welcomed the settlement.
"It has been a long journey, but we are very pleased that we've achieved justice for the tens of thousands of people who, through no fault of their own, are suffering from Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma after using a product Monsanto assured them was safe," Greenwald said in a statement.