Bayer, the chemical giant and manufacturer of the popular weed killer Roundup, is actively lobbying lawmakers in three U.S. states to pass legislation that would help protect it from future litigation.

This follows Bayer’s numerous lawsuits alleging that Roundup causes cancer, which the company denies.

The proposed laws would shield companies from cancer risk claims as long as their product labels comply with existing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations. This would significantly limit legal actions like those previously taken against Bayer, which have cost the corporation billions in settlements.

Bayer lobbyists currently have their focus on Iowa, Missouri and Idaho, where the company holds key business operations.

So far, the Idaho Senate and Iowa House defeated the proposed legislation. It is awaiting debate in the Missouri Senate after successfully passing in its House, according to the Associated Press. Experts believe it will be picked up on the 2025 legislative agenda in the states it fails to pass in this year.

Critics argue that this law could undermine public health and make it harder for consumers to challenge potentially harmful products.

“It’s just not good government to give a company immunity for things that they’re not telling their consumers,” Matt Clement, a Missouri attorney representing plaintiffs suing Bayer, told the AP.

“If they’re successful in getting this passed in Missouri, I think they’ll be trying to do this all over the country.”

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Impact on Legal Proceedings

In 2018, Bayer acquired Monsanto and its notorious product, Roundup, which has been at the center of many legal battles.

Thousands of lawsuits claim the product caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that forms in the lymphatic system. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, an estimated 80,550 Americans were diagnosed with the illness in 2023. It is the ninth most common cause of cancer death.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup until Bayer reformulated its residential-use product, has been linked to cancer. The company denies the link, and the EPA says the product is not likely to be a human carcinogen when used appropriately. The World Health Organization disagrees.

Despite the changes in formulation and differences in regulatory opinion, the ongoing lawsuits have placed significant financial pressure on Bayer.

And the impact of these news laws could be far-reaching and influence industries beyond agrochemicals. Should they pass, the legislation could potentially limit the scope of consumer rights in cases where federal and state regulations diverge.

Iowa farmer John Gilbert told the AP that the bill “invites a lot of reckless disregard. No amount of perfume’s gonna make it anything but a skunk.”