Throughout all of 2019, one of the biggest agricultural-oriented stories involved the numerous court battles for glyphosate and Bayer. Despite mountains of scientific evidence to the contrary, the glyphosate lawsuits that have already gone to trial have come back with multi-million-dollar damage awards on behalf of plaintiffs that claim using the popular herbicide gave them cancer. At times, it seemed as if no one would come to the defense of glyphosate.
But now, the U.S. government has entered the mix. On December 21, the EPA and the Justice Department both filed “friends of the court” briefs on glyphosate’s behalf, saying their internal research shows that the herbicide is not carcinogenic and that a federal appeals court should reverse a lower court verdict against Bayer in the Edwin Hardeman lawsuit. This brief came a few days following Bayer’s own filing with federal appeals court, arguing that it would have been impossible for the company to comply with the Hardeman verdict because any warning label on glyphosate would conflict with “guidance from a federal agency.” Ultimately, Bayer has asked the appeals court to “throw out” a $25 million against the company that resulted from the Hardeman lawsuit.
Both the EPA and the Justice Department agreed with this reasoning, pointing out that the U.S. government reaffirmed that glyphosate does not cause cancer back in April 2019. “It is unlawful for manufacturers and sellers to make claims on their labels that differ from what EPA approves,” said the U.S. government in its court brief.
For what has seemed like years now, many observers in the agricultural world have been waiting for someone to speak out in defense of glyphosate other than Bayer. Finally, with the filing of the “friends of the court” briefs by the U.S. government, it seems as if that “someone” has finally stepped forward.