Monsanto faces allegations that the company has been long aware that its Round Up glyphosate-based products cause cancer.
DeWayne Johnson, 46, a former groundskeeper husband and father of three in California, who initiated the lawsuit hopes to live long enough to prevail in the action, because his doctors say he may only have a few months left to live.
However, Johnson is not alone, as approximately 4,000 plaintiffs have sued Monsanto alleging exposure to Roundup caused them, or their loved ones, to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
Another case is scheduled for trial this October, in Monsanto’s home town of St Louis, Missouri.
Last week San Francisco Judge Curtis Karnow issued an order that would enable jurors to consider not only scientific evidence related to what caused Johnson’s cancer, but also allegations that Monsanto suppressed evidence of the risks of its glyphosate weed killer products. Karnow also ruled that the trial will proceed and a jury would be allowed to consider possible punitive damages.
“The internal correspondence noted by Johnson could support a jury finding that Monsanto has long been aware of the risk that its glyphosate-based herbicides are carcinogenic … but has continuously sought to influence the scientific literature to prevent its internal concerns from reaching the public sphere and to bolster its defenses in products liability actions,” Karnow wrote. “Thus, there are triable issues of material fact.,” Judge Karnow wrote in his order.
The lawsuits challenge Monsanto’s contention that its herbicides are proven safe and assert that the company has known about the dangers and hidden them from regulators and the public. The litigants cite an assortment of research studies indicating that Glyphosate the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicides, can lead to NHL and other ailments. They also cite research showing glyphosate formulations in its commercial-end products are more toxic than glyphosate alone. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen” in 2015.
Monsanto “championed falsified data and attacked legitimate studies” that revealed dangers of its herbicides, and led a “prolonged campaign of mis-information” to convince government agencies, farmers and consumers that Roundup was safe, Johnson’s lawsuit alleges.
“We look forward to exposing how Monsanto hid the risk of cancer and polluted the science,” said Michael Miller, Johnson’s attorney.
Monsanto has roundly denied the allegations, saying its products are not the cause of cancer.
The company also argues that the 2015 IARC finding that glyphosate is a human carcinogen is also wrong, despite other studies finding glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides like Roundup to be potentially carcinogenic. Monsanto cites the recent findings by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other regulatory authorities as confirming its defense.
However, the shear volume of damning documents that Monsanto tried, but failed to seal, may decide the case.
The trial begins in San Francisco Superior Court on June 18.