The judge also wondered why Bayer had never included warning labels in the first place.
A federal judge has suggested that Bayer AG include warning labels on its popular Roundup herbicide to avoid any future claims against it.
According to Reuters, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco has given preliminary approval to a $2 billion settlement intended to resolve future claims that Bayer’s Roundup line of products can cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The settlement would, tentatively, provide free medical exams for participants in the class action, alongside $200,000 to any member who is diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The agreement would include damages to people who have outstanding claims against Bayer and create a framework to resolve future lawsuits, too.
Bayer, says Reuters, had previously contended that years of research showed that Roundup and its main active ingredient, glyphosate, are safe for human use.
However, a World Health Organization report released in 2015 suggested that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Speaking in court, Chhabria questioned why Monsanto—which developed Roundup before being acquired by Bayer in 2018—did not choose to warn consumers of the potential dangers of its product.
“For years, I’ve been wondering why Monsanto wouldn’t do that voluntarily to protect itself” from liability,” Chhabria said.
Chhabria, adds Reuters, said that a warning label could help protect Bayer from future lawsuits while freeing up more funds to people who have already been exposed.
The Insurance Journal notes that Chhabria had previously questioned other aspects of the settlement. Chhabira, for instance, asked how it might be possible to send notification of the agreement to the millions of homeowners and agricultural workers who have been exposed to Roundup and may be at increased risk for developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the future.
Chhabria also asked whether the proposed $200,000 per-positive-diagnosis compensation would be adequate to cover medical costs.
Bayer previously resolved other claims related to Roundup and is expected to pay more than $8 billion to people who believe their existing cancer diagnosis was related to the pesticide.
“The Roundup settlement is the right action at the right time for Bayer to bring a long period of uncertainty to an end,” Bayer Chief Executive Warner Baumann said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we have to pay an awful lot of money for a product which is perfectly regulated.”
“The decision to resolve the Roundup litigation enables us to focus fully on the critical supply of health care and food,” he said. “It will also return the conversation about the safety and utility of glyphosate-based herbicides to the scientific and regulatory arena and to the full body of science.”