In 1995, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that glyphosate, one of the primary substances found in Roundup–Monsanto’s leading weed killer and pesticide–should be labeled as a probable human carcinogen.  Since then, conflicting stories arguing there is no direct link between cancer and glyphosate exposure have continued to emerge. Then, as if to counter its previous 1995 indictment of glyphosate, in December 2017, under the direction of Scott Pruitt, the EPA stated that Roundup shows, “virtually no toxicity to animals that encounter glyphosate in the natural environment.”  This statement was released despite a previous assessment in 2015 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which falls under the World Health Organization (WHO).  The previous statement labeled glyphosate “probably carcinogenic to humans,” categorized as Group 2A.  This category admits a positive link between an agent and cancer, but, acknowledges that information is limited at the time the category is assigned.

Representatives of the IARC have stood by their 2015 evaluation, speaking out again in February 2018 to defend their findings. This was the first step in continued crucial research, regarding glyphosate, to further determine the depth of its carcinogenicity–including what levels of exposure can be linked to each form of cancer. Without question or debate, the state of California already lists glyphosate as a cancer-causing agent.

Monsanto, a Goliath

More than 8,000 patients and families have filed lawsuits against Monsanto, claiming the pesticide giant was aware of the carcinogenic effects of glyphosate from the beginning, but didn’t properly warn consumers. Of course, Monsanto denied those claims despite earlier studies stating otherwise.

Recently, unsealed court documents show Monsanto was aware of Roundup’s link to cancer, but their scientists ghostwrote the “Safety Evaluation and Risk Assessment of the Herbicide Roundup and Its Active Ingredient, Glyphosate, for Humans,” to debunk the claims. One plaintiff’s attorney called it a cover-up by the EPA, perpetrated by a previous government employee, then offered emails as proof of these allegations. Monsanto and the EPA deny both claims.

The proof is in the pudding

If the proof is in the pudding, then Monsanto’s guilt may be reflected in the August 10th verdict.  The company was ordered to pay Dewayne Johnson the amount of $289 million. Mr. Johnson was a former school groundskeeper whose lawsuit against Monsanto claims he contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from the Roundup he sprayed on the school grounds during his employment. Out of this award, $39 million is for compensatory damages, and $250 million in punitive damages. Monsanto is appealing the verdict.

Monsanto still faces thousands of lawsuits in state and federal courts yet continues to deny Roundup causes cancer.

Monsanto developed glyphosate in the 70’’s. It’s sold in 160 countries and used on more than 200 types of crops in California, including use by homeowners in gardens and on lawns. 


Resources

1. Jury Awards Man $289 Million in Lawsuit Against Monsanto. The Root.
https://www.theroot.com/jury-awards-man-289-million-in-lawsuit-against-monsant-1828273543

2. Roundup Lawsuit. Consumer Safety.
https://www.consumersafety.org/legal/roundup-lawsuit/