Is Monsanto's Roundup weed killer carcinogenic? Contentious trial underway in San FranciscoThe first court trial to determine if Roundup weed killer is likely to cause cancer is underway in San Francisco.
According to an Associated Press story by Sudhin Thanawala , the contentious trial — with a school groundskeeper dying of the disease as the plaintiff and agribusiness giant Monsanto, the hericide's manufacturer, as defendant — is expected to last about a month.
|Dewayne Johnson, plaintiff|
The AP quoted the opening statement of Johnson's attorney, Brent Wisner, to the effect that "when the wind was gusty, it would cover his face. When a hose broke once, it soaked his entire body."
The attorney showed jurors photographs of lesions on the body of the plaintiff, who had also sprayed with a similar product, Ranger Pro.
Wisner alleged that between the diagnosis "and now, it's just nothing but pain."
Monsanto's lawyer, George Lombardi, countered by saying that "non-Hodgkin's lymphoma takes years to develop, so Johnson's cancer started well before he began working at the school district."
Thanawala's story notes that "many government regulators have rejected a link between the active ingredient in Roundup — glyphosate — and cancer. Monsanto has vehemently denied such a connection, saying hundreds of studies have established that glyphosate is safe."
While the plaintiff "is seeking unspecified damages against Monsanto [and] the outcome of Johnson's case will not affect the hundreds of other lawsuits in state and federal courts...it may serve as an indicator of how the others might go."
Earlier this week, a San Francisco U.S. District judge, Vince Chhabria, ruled that although evidence seems weak that Roundup causes cancer, experts still could make that claim at trial.
The main claim of the lawsuits by cancer victims and their families is that Monsanto long knew about Roundup's cancer risk but failed to warn them.
Chhabria is handling more than 400 of those suits.
The AP article indicates that Monsanto developed glyphosate in the '70s and that the weed killer is sold in more than 160 countries. "Farmers in California, the most agriculturally productive state in the U.S., use it on more than 200 types of crops. Homeowners use it on their lawns and gardens."
In 2015, the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, classified the herbicide as a "probable human carcinogen." California later added it to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer.
But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to the AP, "says glyphosate is safe for humans when used in accordance with label directions."
And in February, the story continues, a federal judge in Sacramento blocked California from required that Roundup carry a warning label, saying it would be "misleading because almost all regulators have concluded that there is no evidence glyphosate is carcinogenic."
In Johnson's case, according to an online story by Helen Christopher of Courthouse News Service, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos sided with Monsanto yesterday by disallowing testimony of an cancer-risk expert. The ruling came on a technicality after the corporation's lawyers accused the plaintiff's legal team of trying to sneak into evidence information about the amount of exposure Johnson experienced.
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