Monsanto has long been the scary monster lurking in the closet, with its seed-patenting and fertilizer-pushing. Now the first case actually bringing the company to trial is taking place – for the crime of failing to warn against carcinogenic substances in its Roundup products.
Roundup, of which there are many varieties, contains the active ingredient glyphosate, which is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide and crop desiccant. In the last years, there has been an increasingly debated controversy about glyphosate’s potential dangers to public health. A study from the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published in March of 2015 stated that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans."
The report elaborated: "For the herbicide glyphosate, there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma," the report states. "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."
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the type of cancer that Dewayne Johnson, who is bringing the case to trial, suffers from. After applying Roundup weed killer 20 to 30 times per year while working as a pest manager for a county school system, Johnson, now 46 with two children, is near to death. Lesions from the cancer cover 80% of his body and his doctors say he does not have much time left. Which is what sped up his trial in the first place: in California, dying plaintiffs can be granted expedited trials, reports CNN.
He is among 800 patients who have sued Monsanto under the claim that Roundup gave them cancer. Timothy Litzenburg is Johnson’s attorney and he has reported that he currently represents "more than 2,000 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma sufferers who used Roundup extensively," he said.
What has been Monsanto’s stance in all this finger-pointing? Deflect the blame. Monsanto cites the admittedly numerous studies that say glyphosate is not dangerous. (Though, one has to wonder who’s funding those studies.) Monsanto spokeswoman Charla Lord stated, "The safety of each labeled use of a pesticide formulation must be evaluated and approved by regulatory authorities before it is authorized for sale.”
The outcome of this trial will mean set a critical precedent for how we hold companies accountable. What’s your opinion on Monsanto and Roundup? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.