First plaintiff goes to trial against Monsanto claiming RoundUp to blame for terminal cancer

With thousands of cases being brought against Monsanto, the company's infamous weed-killer, RoundUp, is to blame by many cancer sufferers.

Image Credit: Mehdi Fedouach/AFP/Getty Images

Bayer’s recent acquisition of Monsanto might have dropped its name, but not the numerous lawsuits against the giant biotech company. With thousands of cases being brought against Monsanto, the company’s infamous weed-killer, RoundUp, is to blame by many cancer sufferers.

The first case, which went to trial yesterday, rests on “whether Roundup’s key ingredient glyphosate causes cancer and whether Monsanto failed to adequately warn customers,” EcoWatch reported. The plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, a northern California resident and father of two, was granted “an expedited trial” because he is in his final days of life, Johnson’s doctors reported. Working with Roundup 20-30 times a year – both preparing and spraying the chemicals – as a groundskeeper for the Benicia Unified School District, Johnson developed terminal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and now suffers from lesions on more than 80 percent of his body.

Johnson’s case is just one of the other 4,000 brought against Monsanto in “what’s become a global debate over the safety of one of the world’s most widely used pesticides,” EcoWatch reported.

While the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate “as a probable human carcinogen” in 2015 after years of peer-reviewed scientific studies proved it to be true, Monsanto has questioned the validity of IARC’s claims and countered the studies claiming Roundup does not cause cancer when used properly. Monsanto also has the EPA on its side, which cited findings that concluded glyphosate is an unlikely carcinogen.

“Glyphosate-based herbicides are supported by one of the most extensive worldwide human health and environmental effects databases ever compiled for a pesticide product,” Monsanto said on its website. “Comprehensive toxicological and environmental fate studies conducted over the last 40 years have time and again demonstrated the strong safety profile of this widely used herbicide.”

Roundup, which was first sold in 1974, “represents billions of dollars in annual revenues for Monsanto, which became a subsidiary of German-based Bayer AG on June 8,” EcoWatch reported.

While the outcome is important in a larger sense to hold Monsanto accountable and progress thousands of similar cases, Monsanto is doing all it can to disprove that RoundUp is to blame for Johnson’s cancer.

“We’re going to get them here. We have the goods,” Brent Wisner, one of three lawyer representing Johnson at his trial, said. “If the evidence we have is allowed in, Monsanto is in trouble.”


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