Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Verdicts of three California juries nixed

Federal judge sides with Monsanto, blocks cancer-warning labels from most widely used weed-killer

Ignoring the verdicts of three California juries, a federal judge ruled yesterday that the state can’t require a warning label on Roundup.

U.S. District Judge William Shubb
U.S. District Judge William Shubb, according to an Associated Press story, issued a permanent injunction against the labeling of the world’s most widely used weed-killer — despite plaintiffs in the three cases having won nearly $300 million after the juries agreed that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, Monsanto’s herbicide, causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other blood cancers.

The AP cited a contrary quote by Shubb in the San Francisco Chronicle to the effect that “the great weight of evidence indicates that glyphosate is not known to cause cancer.”

The U.S. District judge noted that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and similar agencies in Europe “haven’t found a connection between the chemical and cancer.”

The judge contended, according to the AP, that “the state couldn’t meet a legal standard” for requiring the labeling — in effect overturning California’s warning requisite on cancer-causing products under its Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act that was approved in 1986 by voters. 

California had wanted the labels based on a 2016 finding by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, that glyphosate "was probably a cause of cancer in humans.”

Monsanto, which is now owned by Bayer AG, a German chemical and pharmaceutical giant, sued to overturn that position and, in 2018, Shubb temporarily blocked the labeling. In his latest ruling, the judge suggested that the state can force a company to change its label only if the statement is purely factual and non-controversial — itself apparently a controversial posture.

The monster agribusiness, meanwhile, has appealed the verdicts in all three cases.

It had been facing some 125,000 lawsuits in spite of contending Roundup is safe. But of those cases — reports a story on the EcoWatch website that features “environmental news for a healthier planet and life” — Bayer “made a verbal agreement to settle 50,000 to 85,000 cases in May, awarding plaintiffs anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a few million, according to Fortune” magazine.

The reason for those settlements, EcoWatch speculated, is “the spate of lawsuits and their legal fees [that] made the company lose 40 percent of its value.”

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in those instances, that article continues, “argued that the EPA’s insistence that Roundup does not cause cancer is spurious since there was evidence the company had unduly influenced the federal agency and had ‘ghost-written’ purported research studies on the product’s safety.” 

The story also noted that the verdicts in the three cases with huge settlements, all of which are being appealed by Monsanto, came after the plaintiffs alleged that “Bayer manipulated studies and deceived the scientific community to make glyphosate seem safer than it actually is, according to Reuters.”

More information about lawsuits pertaining to products that may cause disease can be found in “Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner’s breast cancer,” a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

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