Pollution

Second guilty verdict against Monsanto in the US

Federal jury finds that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide caused a man’s cancer

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Wednesday 20 March 2019
Herbicide
Representational photo of herbicide spraying. Credit: Getty Images Representational photo of herbicide spraying. Credit: Getty Images

A federal jury in San Francisco on March 19, 2019, concluded that agri biotech company Monsanto’s ‘Roundup’ herbicide had a substantial role to play in causing cancer in a California man.

The six-person jury agreed with the claim of Edward Hardeman, a 70-year-old native of Santa Rosa, California, that he had been afflicted with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) due to his exposure glyphosate, the main ingredient of Roundup.

Hardeman had testified that he had sprayed Roundup for 30 years on his property, starting from 1986 and had once got the herbicide on his skin before his cancer diagnosis. NHL is a cancer that affects the human body’s immune system.

The jury will take a decision about the damages to be awarded to Hardeman in the next phase of the trial.

The decision in Hardeman’s case is the second landmark verdict of its type against Monsanto since last August.

In early August last year, a California state jury ordered Monsanto, which is owned by German pharmaceutical company Bayer, to pay $289 million to DeWayne Johnson, a school groundskeeper, who also got NHL after using Roundup.

Monsanto does not put a warning label on Roundup. Once after he got covered with the weed killer, Johnson contacted the company but was not warned about the possible carcinogenic risk. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. In 2015, the World Health Organisation labeled glyphosate as a "probable carcinogenic". Monsanto called WHO's work as "junk science". 

British daily, The Guardian reported Monsanto has reacted to the latest decision by affirming that Roundup does not cause cancer.

“We are disappointed with the jury’s initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer”, the newspaper quoted Monsanto spokesman Dan Childs as stating.

“We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto’s conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr Hardeman’s cancer,” Childs added.

First Johnson and now, Hardeman’s cases could set precedents. According to a report by Down To Earth, cases against Monsanto’s glyphosate in the US doubled last year and now stand at nearly 9,000.

Glyphosate is a popular herbicide in India too where farmers use the chemical as an alternative to expensive manual weeding.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :
Related Stories

India Environment Portal Resources :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.