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Daily News Blog

20
Mar

A Second Jury Delivers Blow to Bayer/Monsanto’s Claim that Glyphosate/Roundup Is Safe

(Beyond Pesticides, March 20, 2019) In a second verdict against Bayer/Monsanto yesterday, a jury found unanimously that a California man’s non Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) was substantially caused by the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup). The case being heard in federal court in San Francisco now moves to the damages phase. Last August in San Francisco Superior Court, a California groundskeeper was awarded $39 million in compensatory damages, and $250 million in punitive damages in a case that linked his NHL to Monsanto’s glyphosate/Roundup. In October, the judge in the case upheld the verdict, but reduced the award to $78 million.

According to the Associated Press, the trial judge, U.S. Judge Vince Chhabira “is overseeing hundreds of Roundup lawsuits and has deemed [this case] and two others ‘bellwether trials.“ The case was brought by Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, CA. He said he had been using Roundup since the 1980’s. During the trial, according to The Guardian, Judge Chhabria, “approved Monsanto’s request to prohibit Hardeman’s attorneys from raising allegations about the corporation’s conduct, saying issues about its influence on science and government were a ‘significant … distraction.’” This set up a limitation that required the plaintiff’s attorneys to focus solely on studies linking the chemical to cancer risks.

The plaintiff’s attorney, Aimee Wagstaff, told the Guardian: “The jury will hear about the science, but they won’t get to hear about how Monsanto influenced it,”  “The jury won’t have a complete understanding of the science. If we win without the jury knowing the complete science, that’s a real problem for Monsanto.”

The jury verdict in August was reported by Beyond Pesticides as a “stunning victory.” Beyond Pesticides reported at the time a statement of Beyond Pesticides’ executive director: “While we know that the jury verdict cannot restore Mr. Johnson’s health, we believe that the verdict is a clarion call to manufacturers that ignore the devastating impact that their products can have on unsuspecting workers, consumers, and families. We look forward to the day in the not-too-distant future when we recognize as a society that products like glyphosate (Roundup) are not necessary, and effective and affordable land and building management can be achieved without toxic chemicals. The case should also signal to all levels of government – local, state, and federal – that we have a social, public health, and environmental responsibility to remove toxic pesticides from use with a high degree of urgency.”

Ms. Wagstaff, working with co-counsel, Andrus Wagstaff, PC and Jennifer Moore of Moore Law Group, PLLC, said,

Mr. Hardeman is pleased that the jury unanimously held that Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup. Instead, it is clear from Monsanto’s actions that it does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue. We look forward to presenting this evidence to the jury and holding Monsanto accountable for its bad conduct.”

Despite the prevalent myth that this widely-used herbicide is harmless, glyphosate (N-phosphono-methyl glycine) is associated with a wide range of illnesses, including NHL, genetic damage, liver and kidney damage, endocrine disruption, as well as environmental damage, including water contamination and harm to amphibians. Researchers have also determined that the “inert” ingredients in glyphosate products, especially polyethoxylated tallow amine or POEA —a surfactant commonly used in glyphosate and other herbicidal products—are even more toxic than glyphosate itself. Monsanto, manufacturer of glyphosate, formulates many products such as Roundup™ and Rodeo™ and markets formulations exclusively used on genetically engineered (GE) crops. Glyphosate, one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, due in large part to the increased cultivation of GE crops that are tolerant of the herbicide.

Since EPA’s classification of glyphosate as a Group E carcinogen—or “evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans,” the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015 classified glyphosate as a Group 2A “probable” carcinogen, which means that the chemical is probably carcinogenic to humans based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. As of July 7, 2017, glyphosate is listed as a cancer-causing chemical under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). This requires cancer warning labels be placed on end-use glyphosate products in California.

Newer scientific studies have also looked in greater depth at glyphosate’s mode of action and the implications for human and ecological health. Glyphosate works by disrupting a crucial pathway for manufacturing aromatic amino acids in plants—but not animals—and, therefore, many have assumed that it does not harm humans. However, many bacteria do use the shikimate pathway, and 90 percent of the cells in a human body are bacteria. The destruction of beneficial microbiota in the human gut (and elsewhere in and on the human body) is, therefore, a cause for concern—and a major contributor to disease. In addition, the destruction of soil microbiota leads to unhealthy agricultural systems with an increasing dependence on agricultural chemicals. Assessing the mode of action of glyphosate, scientists have found that it starves and sickens the very crop plants that it is supposed to protect. It is dangerous to base the review of chemicals on the assumption that microbiota is irrelevant to assessing dangers.

Beyond Pesticides encourages communities to work to eliminate local use of glyphosate herbicides, and to advance the transition to organic land management. For resources on taking such actions, see our factsheet on glyphosate/Roundup, our report, “Glyphosate/Roundup Exposed,” and our Lawns and Landscapes page.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: The Guardian, Associated Press, U.S. Right to Know

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