As of July 2019, Bayer AG was facing 18,400 product liability claims in relation to Roundup weedkiller, the bulk of which were ongoing in the US.
However, litigation has since emerged in Australia, a country in which there is critical reliance on the availability of Roundup in agriculture.
Roundup demand is heightened in Australia because of the dry climate – Australasia is the driest continent on the Earth. Pesticides are used as alternative to ploughing and tilling soil, in order to maintain nutrient rich soil and improve water efficiency, thereby increasing crop yield.
Andrew Weidemann, Chairman of Grain Producers Australia has previously stated that:
‘A ban on glyphosate would be a disaster agronomically’.[i]
Nonetheless, in edition 270 of BC Disease News (here), we reported that 54-year-old landscape gardener, Michael Ogalirolo, became the first Australian citizen, to allege a causal relationship between his development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 18-years of occupational exposure to Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate.
In another first, this week, news surfaced that an Australian farmer has now commenced proceedings against Bayer.[ii]
67-year-old, Ross Wild, who, like Mr. Ogalirolo, is represented by Carbone Lawyers, filed his claim in Victoria’s Supreme Court, yesterday.
Once again, the allegation is that long-term exposure to glyphosate in Roundup has given rise to cancer of the lymphatic system. Accordingly, he submits that warnings displayed on Roundup packaging, consumed since the mid-1970’s, were inadequate.
Managing Partner of Carbone Lawyers, Tony Carbone, informed the Financial Times that he has been approached by 100 other potential litigants, who are exhibiting similar symptoms stemming from the same exposure source, and is ‘pretty confident that more people will come forward’.
Responding to news of the first Australian farmer claim, Bayer reiterated that it ‘stands behind’ its products and will ‘vigorously defend them’ through reliance on an extensive body of supportive science on glyphosate-based herbicides collated over four decades.
[i] Wade Zaglas, ‘Roundup debate hits Australia’ (5 June 2019 Campus Review) <https://www.campusreview.com.au/2019/06/roundup-debate-hits-australia/> accessed 11 October 2019.
[ii] Jamie Smyth, ‘Bayer sued in Australia over cancer linked to Roundup pesticide’ (10 October 2019 Financial Times) <https://www.ft.com/content/677d50ba-eb20-11e9-a240-3b065ef5fc55> accessed 10 October 2019.