Into the Weeds Lee Johnson glyphosate story
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Pesticide Action Network

Into the Weeds: the Dewayne “Lee” Johnson story

In a historic ruling in the San Francisco Superior Court in 2018, a jury found the Monsanto corporation (now part of Bayer) fully liable for health damages caused by its herbicide, Roundup. The plaintiff, Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, was awarded $289 million in damages.

This victory was a landmark moment and signaled the beginning of what could lead to real change — a loosening of the grip that corporations have held over food and farming for far too long.  And now, we have an exciting and highly informational film that will be in theaters for one day (October 3) that documents a story that includes Lee Johnson, but is, in his own words, much bigger than him.

Glyphosate – probable human carcinogen

In 2015, the World Health Organization determined that glyphosate, the active label  ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship herbicide Roundup, is a probable human carcinogen.  A carcinogen is an agent that is capable of producing cancer.  But upon the announcement, Monsanto immediately waged an all-out war to discredit and undermine science, researchers, and their findings.

This wasn’t a new strategy, as Monsanto has been working to control what scientists say about glyphosate for decades. They’ve promised funds to universities when their studies confirmed safety of Monsanto’s products, arranged trips and speaking tours for supportive scientists, cultivated relationships within EPA,  and even attempted to convince scientists to ignore findings.  Monsanto even went so far as to ghostwrite “independent” studies verifying the product’s safety.

However, all the money and influence Monsanto pushed was brought into question when the jury made a connection between the corporation and Dewayne Johnson’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This ruling set a powerful precedent for other legal cases against Monsanto.  Soon after Johnson’s case, other significant awards for damages were realized in the Hardeman and Pilliod cases.

At that time Linda Wells, formerly the Midwest organizing director for PAN, made a strong statement:

“Monsanto has deliberately deceived the public about the safety of its flagship herbicide Roundup for decades. Monsanto’s business model assumes that any cancer caused by pesticides will be someone else’s problem. Changing that equation is crucial to moving toward a healthy and just food system.”

Bayer, following its 2018 acquisition of Monsanto, found itself facing nearly 100,000 individual lawsuits and the precedents set by the Johnson, Hardeman and Pilliod cases.  Bayer was eventually ordered to pay up to $10.9 billion to settle lawsuits alleging that exposure to the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup caused cancer.

A story bigger than Lee Johnson

“This is about food.  This is about health.  This is about the soil.  This is about the environment.  This is not the Lee Johnson story.  This is bigger than me.” – Dewayne “Lee” Johnson

Into the Weeds: Dewayne “Lee” Johnson vs. Monsanto Company is coming to movie theaters across the US as a special event screening on one night only, this upcoming October 3rd. The feature film will be supplemented by exclusive follow-up bonus footage featuring findings and expert testimony from scientists, doctors, policy makers, farmers, environmentalists, food safety advocates and concerned public figures.

Attend a screening and journey with Bay Area groundskeeper Dewayne “Lee” Johnson as he fought for justice against Monsanto (now Bayer). Johnson’s case was the first to go to trial in a series of lawsuits claiming Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup, or its industrial counterpart Ranger Pro, contributed to their cancer. The film follows this groundbreaking trial, while also stepping back to consider the systemic effects of the world’s most widely used herbicide.

Join us for this one-night-only exclusive event on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023 in 600+ theaters across the country! You can purchase tickets here.

PAN is one of several non-profit partners promoting this event.

Watch the film trailer here.

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Pesticide Action Network

Pesticide Action Network is dedicated to advancing alternatives to pesticides worldwide. Follow @pesticideaction

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