Monsanto ordered to pay $80M after causing man’s cancer

The jury found Monsanto guilty of negligence and failing to adequately warn consumers of Roundup weed killer’s cancer risks.

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Image credit: Mike Mozart of TheToyChannel and JeepersMedia, CC BY 2.0

A federal jury unanimously ruled Wednesday that Monsanto was liable for causing a California man’s cancer and was ordered to pay more than $80 million in damages. The jury found Monsanto guilty of negligence and failing to adequately warn consumers of Roundup weed killer’s cancer risks.

In 1986, Edwin Hardeman began using Monsanto herbicides to treat poison oak, overgrowth, and weeds on his property until 2012. In February 2015, Hardeman was diagnosed with B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) after repeated exposure to the glyphosate in Roundup.

On March 19, the jury unanimously decided that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide was a substantial factor in causing Hardeman’s cancer. On Wednesday, the jurors ordered the company to pay $75 million in punitive damages, $3.2 million in past losses, and $2 million in future losses.

On Wednesday, Bayer, the company that purchased Monsanto last June, released the following statement:

“We are disappointed with the jury’s decision, but this verdict does not change the weight of over four decades of extensive science and the conclusions of regulators worldwide that support the safety of our glyphosate-based herbicides and that they are not carcinogenic. The verdict in this trial has no impact on future cases and trials, as each one has its own factual and legal circumstances. Bayer will appeal this verdict.”

“As demonstrated throughout trial, since Roundup’s inception over 40 years ago, Monsanto refuses to act responsibly,” Hardeman’s lawyers said in a recent statement. “It is clear from Monsanto’s actions that it does not care whether Roundup causes cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about Roundup.”

During the trial, Hardeman’s attorneys accused Monsanto of bullying scientists, suppressing research, and ghostwriting multiple academic articles in the 1990s and 2000s in an attempt to mislead federal regulators and the public about Roundup’s safety. They also alleged that Monsanto has a “cozy relationship” with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) while paying scientists to conduct favorable studies.

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Although the World Health Organization’s international agency for research on cancer (IARC) ruled that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, was “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015, the EPA has determined that glyphosate is safe for use.

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