Shares in Germany's Bayer plunge on US weed killer ruling

French activists of Attac spray-paint the Paris headquarters of Bayer AG to protest its production of environment-damaging pesticides in la Garenne Colombes, suburb of Paris, Thursday, March 14, 2019. Germany-based Bayer is also under fire from environmental activists in Europe and the U.S. for production of weed killer Roundup by its subsidiary Monsanto. Roundup's key ingredient glyphosate has been blamed for health problems including cancer. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

BERLIN — Shares in chemicals manufacturer Bayer fell sharply Wednesday after a U.S. jury found the Roundup weed killer to have been a substantial factor in a California man's cancer.

It's the second case that has gone against manufacturer Monsanto, which was acquired for $63 billion last year by the German company. Bayer's shares dropped 10 percent to 62.70 euros on the Frankfurt exchange.

A federal court jury in San Francisco ruled unanimously Tuesday in a lawsuit against Monsanto. Attorneys say the trial could help determine the fate of hundreds of similar lawsuits. A second phase to the trial will determine whether the company is liable and if so, for how much.

Monsanto has argued that studies have established that Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate, is safe. It has appealed a separate U.S. court decision last year in favor of a man who used Roundup.

Some countries have banned the use of the weed killer because of concerns about its potential impact on human and animal health. Others, including Germany, have resisted campaigners' calls to take Roundup off the market immediately, but say it will be phased out gradually.

German authorities are currently suing a website for publishing an official study into the dangers of glyphosate. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment cited copyright reasons Wednesday for wanting the website FragdenStaat.de, which facilitates citizens' freedom of information requests, to remove the document from its site.

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