Agricultural biotechnology corporation had failed to warn of cancer risks
A groundskeeper who developed terminal cancer after using Monsanto’s weed-killing products for years has been awarded o $39 million in compensation and $250 million in punitive damages, according to a California jury’s decision.
The jury at the Superior Court of California in San Francisco agreed that the agricultural biotechnology corporation had failed to warn DeWayne Johnson of the cancer risks of its product.
The father of three Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma at age 42.
He was exposed to Monsanto weedkilling chemicals like RangerPro, another Monsanto glyphosate product when he was employed as a gardener for a school district.
“Monsanto does not want the truth about Roundup and cancer to become public,” Johnson’s attorney, Michael Miller, told the Guardian.
“We look forward to exposing how Monsanto hid the risk of cancer and polluted the science.”
RT reports: Johnson filed the lawsuit in 2016, alleging that Monsanto’s Roundup and Ranger Pro herbicides are responsible for his cancer.
The trial was expedited because his doctors said he was unlikely to survive past 2020.
As part of his duties as a groundskeeper at a California school, Johnson used Roundup between 20 and 40 times a year, sometimes “hundreds of gallons” at a time, according to his lawyer.
Two years after starting his job, he was diagnosed with aggressive cancer.
Monsanto has denied that glyphosate, the key ingredient in both Roundup and Ranger Pro, causes cancer.
The company has cited scientific studies going back decades that showed the chemical safe for use by humans.
After labeling glyphosate a “possible human carcinogen” in 1985, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed its position on the chemical in 1991.
The EU Food Safety Authority said in 2015 that peer review experts, with only one exception, consider glyphosate “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard.”
The World Health Organization’s cancer research agency classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015, but said there was “limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma” based on studies from US, Canada and Sweden published since 2001.
Monsanto was acquired by the German agrichemical giant Bayer AG in June, in a merger deal valued at $66 billion.
Speaking to reporters after the verdict, Monsanto VP Scott Partridge said that the company will appeal and continue to “vigorously defend” the herbicide.
“The verdict today does not change the science,” Partridge said.