By Kim Robson:
Over the years, we’ve kept a close eye on chemical manufacturing giant Monsanto and, in particular, the ongoing health threats from its signature product, Roundup Weed Killer. Roundup’s key ingredient, reproductive disorders and horrifying birth defects; ADHD; Alzheimer’s; Parkinson’s; respiratory, heart, kidney and liver disease; colitis; ALS; MS; hypothyroidism; diabetes; autism; and cancers of the brain, breast and lymph system. It’s also been , and in . In other words, it’s getting everywhere. Glyphosate is antibiotic in the soil and in your microbiome, and is an endocrine disruptor at only one part per million.
Now, cancer patient Dwayne Johnson is suing Monsanto for causing his illness and for not providing adequate warning labels on its Roundup products. Johnson is a former school groundskeeper who regularly used Roundup on the job. He claims it gave him cancer. Lesions often cover as much as eighty percent of his body. On bad days, he is too crippled to speak.
On June 18th, Johnson was first among more than 800 cancer patients who are seeing their case against agrochemical giant Monsanto go to trial. Hundreds of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients have made similar claims, says Johnson’s attorney, Timothy Litzenburg, who represents “more than 2,000 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma sufferers who used Roundup extensively.”
Johnson, whose doctors didn’t expect to see him live to see the trial, has been due to his failing health. The father of two applied Roundup weed killer twenty to thirty times per year while working as a pest manager for a county school system in California’s Bay Area.
If Johnson wins his case, it will set an important legal precedent for thousands of future cases.
World Health Organization Warning
The crux of the case centers on two questions: is glyphosate dangerous to health and, if so, has Monsanto legally done enough to warn consumers of its risks?
According to a March 2015 by the World Health Organization’s (IARC), glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans. For the herbicide glyphosate, there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The evidence in humans is from studies of exposures, mostly agricultural, in the USA, Canada, and Sweden published since 2001. In addition, there is convincing evidence that glyphosate also can cause cancer in laboratory animals.”
Monsanto Defends Glyphosate
Monsanto stands by its claim that Roundup does not cause cancer and maintains that the IARC report is greatly outnumbered by studies that say glyphosate is safe. Monsanto Vice President Scott Partridge said in a statement, “We have empathy for anyone suffering from cancer, but the scientific evidence clearly shows that glyphosate was not the cause. We look forward to presenting this evidence to the court.” The statement continues, “More than 800 scientific studies, the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the National Institutes of Health, and regulators around the world have concluded that glyphosate is safe for use and does not cause cancer.”
Charla Lord, a spokeswoman for Monsanto, says that regulatory authorities help ensure Roundup is safe: “The safety of each labeled use of a pesticide formulation must be evaluated and approved by regulatory authorities before it is authorized for sale.”
(a cooperative between Oregon State University and the EPA), studies on cancer rates in humans “have provided conflicting results on whether the use of glyphosate containing products is associated with cancer.”
Hundreds of other cases against Monsanto have been filed in various state courts and in federal multi-district litigation, but it’s not clear when these cases may begin. Litzenburg, says, “Mr. Johnson is angry and is the most safety-oriented person I know. Right now, he is the bravest dude in America. Whatever happens with the trial and his health, his sons get to know that.”
Since we posted this article there was a ruling on the Monsanto trial: $286 million dollars was awarded to that groundskeeper with cancer. Of course, Monsanto is appealing the ruling, but this is still a huge win for all the others whose lawsuits are still awaiting trial.