Glyphosate cancer

Glyphosate, the key ingredient found within the Monsanto pesticide product “Roundup” is increasingly finding itself under intense legal and public scrutiny as it continues to be linked to adverse health effects such as Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) cancer.

In a monumental ruling within a lawsuit levied against Monsanto on March 27th of 2019, a San Francisco jury awarded $80 million in damages to the 70 year old plantiff, Edwin Hardeman of Sonoma County California.

Hardeman, who had used the Roundup product on his 56-acre property for over twenty years to treat overgrowth and weeds such as poison oak, was diagnosed with the cancer of the lymphatic system in February of 2015, according to his lawsuit. Just earlier in the same month, the federal jury comprised of six members agreed unanimously on March 19th that the glyphosate-based product was responsible for causing the man’s cancer.

The ruling is the second to find fault with Monsanto and its product, with the first coming on August 10 of 2018, resulting in a damages payout to the tune of $78 million to a former groundskeeper named Dewayne Johnson.

Despite the fervent claims of Monsanto, which is now owned by German company Bayer AG after it purchased the organization in June of 2018, that it has total confidence in the health effects of it’s product, the rulings have sent Bayer’s stock into a tailspin – losing a full 40% of its value since the initial lawsuit’s determination by the federal court against them in August 2018. With outstanding lawsuits totaling 11,300 still facing the company, it would appear to some that the acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer was a very poor business decision.

One such person who agrees with this sentiment is Christian Strenger, an activist and shareholder in the company. Strenger has filed a motion of no confidence prior to Bayer’s annual general board meeting in April 2019, alleging the failure to address serious issues over the purchase of Monsanto on the part of Bayer CEO Werner Baumann.

Monsanto has argued that the pesticide is safe and non-cancer causing, as indicated by scientific studies. The company had developed glyphosate in the 70’s and has since distributed it to over 160 nations worldwide. The ingredient gained negative attention and focus after the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organization) deemed it to be a “probable human carcinogen” in 2015.

Dewayne Johnson was awarded $289 million in damages after it was found that Monsanto’s pesticide Roundup contributed to his terminal illness

Monsanto responded by lashing out against the independent research organization, instead citing the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who has its own track-record of societal and environmental failures (the Colorado river crisis and Michigan water crisis, just to name a few), as a counterargument based upon its statement and position that glyphosate is safe for human consumption when used in accordance with label directions.

So what does the future hold for Monsanto and challenges to the safety of Roundup in the courts? At the moment, United States District Judge Vince Chhabria is overseeing more than 750 Roundup cases against Bayer in San Francisco’s federal court. Commenting on Hardeman’s case against Roundup, as well as two other court decisions against the glyphosate-based pesticide, Judge Chhabria has remarked that the cases were “bellwether trials” against the product.

The outcomes in such cases can assist attorneys in deciding whether to continue fighting such cases within federal courts or to reach settlements for their clients outside of the courtroom. The precedent put forward by the cases that have already reached a verdict gives strong footing to any settlement talks looking to be had regarding the remaining lawsuits sitting before the San Francisco federal court and Judge Chhabria.

Monsanto continues to issue statements about how government regulators have found the ingredient safe for the public to ingest, but the future of Bayer AG may not be so certain as lawsuits and suspicion over the health risks of its flagship product continue to haunt the company and its profits, indefinitely.

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