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Monsanto to pay millions in health damages

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Monsanto Roundup

Several thousand individuals who have been exposed to Monsanto’s (now Bayer) flagship herbicide Roundup and suffered from cancer are in the process of suing the agrichemical giant. This week saw the completion of the second trial, and the second ruling in favor of the plaintiff.

On Wednesday, March 27, a jury found the Monsanto corporation liable for a California man’s cancer caused in part by Roundup. Monsanto (Bayer) has been ordered to pay Edwin Hardeman $75 million in punitive damages, $5 million for past and future suffering, and more than $200,000 to cover medical bills.

Inadequate warnings

Hardeman was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015 after using Roundup to kill poison oak and other invasive plants on his property for more than two decades. The lawsuit alleged that Monsanto knew or should have known of the risks associated with the use of the herbicide, and failed to provide adequate warnings about the harmful product.

Bayer indicated it would appeal the verdict, continuing to argue that the herbicide is safe. But in 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) as probably carcinogenic to humans. During the case, the jury heard evidence that Monsanto was aware of studies that showed an association between Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and that the agrichemical giant went so far as to ghostwrite scientific papers.

Precedent setting

This ruling in favor of Hardeman, alongside the ruling in August 2018 in favor of school groundskeeper DeWayne Johnson — the first of these glyphosate cancer trials — sets a precedent into the future. Pesticide Action Network Senior Scientist Marcia Ishii-Eiteman shares:

"Edwin Hardeman’s victory in court is a landmark moment — it signals a turning tide. For too long, corporations have profited from toxic pesticides without being held accountable for damages. For decades, Monsanto assured farmers, farmworkers, pesticide applicators, and homeowners that glyphosate was harmless. As Monsanto (Bayer) is finally held accountable for its impacts, we must also hold our public agencies accountable to science. Public opinion is already shifting, with school districts and communities across the country working on banning glyphosate. It’s time to get carcinogenic pesticides off the market, and support the transition to ecological pest management approaches.”

Photo: Mike Mozart | Flickr

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