The Bayer Protection Act

By Pete Kennedy

Another chapter in the Great Poisoning is currently unfolding in the Iowa Legislature with a bill that could be a preview of what’s to come in many state Houses across the country. Senate File 2392 (SF 2392) would provide virtual immunity to pesticide manufacturers whose products have caused injury and illness; the bill has passed out of committee and is now up for a vote of the full Senate. The bill has been called the equivalent of the 1986 federal law, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, which created immunity for vaccine manufacturers from lawsuits for injuries their products caused.

SF 2392 provides, in part, that:

“[F]or any pesticide registered with the United States environmental protection agency [EPA]…, the label approved by the United States environmental protection agency in registering the pesticide, or a label consistent with the most recent human health assessment performed under the federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, or a label consistent with the United States environmental protection agency carcinogenicity classification for the pesticide…shall be sufficient to satisfy any requirement for a warning regarding health or safety….”

The bill amounts to a “Bayer Protection Act.” As of 2022, Bayer had settled over 1,000 lawsuits and paid around $11 billion in damages from glyphosate-based products such as Roundup; as of that time, there were 30,000 pending lawsuits against Bayer. There are many studies showing glyphosate does cause certain types of cancer. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen; EPA has not made a similar finding. Bayer purchased Monsanto in 2018, and evidence in the court cases against Bayer proves that Monsanto employees and EPA officials colluded to distort the truth that glyphosate causes cancer.

The overwhelming majority of successful pesticide injury lawsuits are won under “failure to warn” claims, such as the failure to warn of a product causing cancer. With the collusion between the pesticide industry and EPA, the EPA-approved labels on products such as Roundup don’t come close to accurately describing the health risks those products present. Products containing glyphosate do not have a warning about cancer on the label. Reliance on EPA-approved labels provides inadequate protection.

Passage of SF 2392 into law would make it almost impossible for there to be a successful personal injury lawsuit against a company that had an EPA-registered pesticide. Another chemical giant that stands to benefit from SF 2392 is ChemChina (formerly Syngenta), the manufacturer of the herbicide Paraquat; there are thousands with Parkinson’s disease involved in litigation over Paraquat being the cause of their illness, with the number of litigants steadily growing. Costs for injuries or illness caused by pesticide exposure can last a lifetime, but if the bill passes into law, companies with deep pockets like Bayer and ChemChina (each has over $100 billion in assets) would not have to pay damages. Iowa citizens would be denied their right to obtain compensation for injuries pesticide manufacturers have caused.

This is not the first time that pesticide companies have used a state-by-state strategy to maintain their profits. After losing a case in 1991 when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of local governments to restrict pesticide use, subsequently, the industry successfully lobbied 43 states to enact laws preempting local governments. A 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision rejected an attempt by Bayer to overturn large damage awards for injuries glyphosate caused. Legislation similar to SF 2392 has been introduced in three other states this legislative session; one such bill in Idaho has already been defeated (see Senate Bill 1245).

Beyond Pesticides and the Pesticide Action Network are good resources for staying informed on whether a “Bayer Protection Act” is before your state legislature or Congress.

This article was originally written by the author as an action alert and published by the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) on February 26, 2024: “Tell Your Senator to Vote NO on SF 2392: Hold Pesticide Manufacturers Accountable for Injury.”

Related:

SF 2392 (Iowa)

IA Alert – Hold Pesticide Manufacturers Accountable for Injury – Vote NO on SF 2392

HSB 646 (Iowa)

SB 1245 (Idaho)

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