If you’re a homeowner with a lawn, chances are, you’ve used this product before. If you’re like me, the chances are also pretty good that you weren’t overly careful and didn’t take too many precautions while using it, like washing it off your skin on places where it may have landed during its application. After reading this story, however, the chances are pretty good that you’ll either never use Roundup again, or that if you do, you’ll be a LOT more careful.
In 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) claims that Roundup, the world’s most widely used weedkiller, “probably” causes cancer.
Today, a jury in California has determined that Monsanto is responsible for the death sentence a 46-year-old groundskeeper after he used their popular Roundup weedkiller. The jury further determined that Monsanto “acted with malice, oppression or fraud” after the defense was able to prove through secret, internal Monsanto documents, that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and specifically Roundup could cause cancer.
In 2015, The Guardian reported that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – WHO’s cancer agency – said that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide made by agriculture company Monsanto, was “classified as probably carcinogenic to humans”.
It also said there was “limited evidence” that glyphosate was carcinogenic in humans for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, said scientific data did not support the conclusions and called on WHO to hold an urgent meeting to explain the findings. “We don’t know how IARC could reach a conclusion that is such a dramatic departure from the conclusion reached by all regulatory agencies around the globe,” said Philip Miller, Monsanto’s vice-president of global regulatory affairs.
Today, the Daily Mail reported on a jury’s historic award today in the Monsanto case:
Roundup does cause cancer, a jury has declared in an unprecedented trial into the health dangers of Monsanto’s weed killer.
After three days of deliberations, jurors on Friday sided with terminally-ill groundsman Dewayne Johnson, 46, who has just weeks to live, awarding him $250 million in punitive damages, plus nearly $40m in compensatory damages, bringing the total to $289m.
Specifically, in eight weeks of proceedings, the jury was left convinced that Monsanto’s product caused Johnson’s cancer.
Addressing a press conference on Friday evening, Johnson thanked his legal team, his wife, and two sons.
It’s taken a lot of prayer, I’ve taken energy from a lot of people. I’m glad to be here to help. Hopefully, this thing will start to get the attention it needs. This case is way bigger than me,’ he said.
Johnson’s wife spends 14 hours a day working two jobs, lawyer Brent Wisner told the press conference. She was working when her husband’s verdict came through, he added.
When Johnson’s compensation is released he hopes to use it to enable him to spend more time with him and their children, Wisner said. He may also use it to fund a bone marrow transplant.
Monsanto will appeal the verdict and the compensation will only be released when this has been heard. Johnson’s lawyers will ask the appellate court to speed up the appeal so the money can be released while their client is still alive.
The groundskeeper, who worked for years in Benicia, California, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – cancer that starts in the white blood cells – in August 2014. He mixed and sprayed hundreds of gallons of Roundup to keep grass and weeds under control.
The liable verdict means the case could open the door to hundreds of additional lawsuits against the company recently acquired by German-based pharmaceutical and chemical group Bayer.
The first-of-its-kind verdict was delayed as jurors spent hours analyzing the timeline of Johnson’s symptoms, the validity of his expert witness’s testimony, and the discrepancies between Monsanto’s medical findings and that of their critics.
The jury also found Monsanto ‘acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished for its conduct,’ Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos announced in court in San Francisco.
Reacting to the verdict, co-lead trial counsel Brent Wisner said it was a result of newly-revealed, confidential company documents.
‘We were finally able to show the jury the secret, internal Monsanto documents proving that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and specifically Roundup could cause cancer,’ Wisner said.
‘Despite the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to require labeling, we are proud that an independent jury followed the evidence and used its voice to send a message to Monsanto that its years of deception regarding Roundup is over and that they should put consumer safety first over profits.’
Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said it was a victory for all workers.