Hard times are ahead for Monsanto, one of the world’s most vilified companies. A landmark ruling by a San Francisco Jury awarded $289 million in damages to a previous college groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, who stated Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller gave him terminal cancer.
Dewayne Johnson's lawsuit claimed the agribusiness giant's popular Roundup weed killer was linked to his disease. After three days of deliberations, a San Francisco jury awarded him US$250 million (NZ$380 million) in punitive damages and around US$39 million (NZ$59 million) in compensatory damages.
Now, his victory could pave the way for thousands of other cases alleging the glyphosate-based herbicide causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Mr Johnson was responsible for sparing Roundup as part of his job as a pest control manager, his attorneys have said. He told the court he had two accidents that left him soaked in Roundup.
The first accident occurred in 2012, and in 2014 he was diagnosed with lymphoma. His lawsuit claimed Monsanto failed to warn him about the deadly risks of its weed-killing products.
“The jury found Monsanto acted with malice and oppression because they knew what they were doing was wrong and doing it with reckless disregard for human life,” said Robert F Kennedy Jr, a member of Mr Johnson's legal team, according to the Associated Press.
“This should send a strong message to the boardroom of Monsanto.”
But Monsanto still denies a link between its product and cancer, and argued Mr Johnson's cancer must have started before he began his job.
“We are sympathetic to Mr Johnson and his family,” Monsanto vice president Scott Partridge said in a statement after the verdict was announced.
He claimed there were “800 studies and reviews” that “support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer, and did not cause Mr Johnson's cancer”.
“We will appeal this decision and continue to vigorously defend this product, which has a 40-year history of safe use and continues to be a vital, effective and safe tool for farmers and others,” Mr Partridge said.
In 2017, CNN reported that more than 800 patients were suing Monsanto for allegedly giving them cancer.
For 12 years, Sheppard had no idea what might have caused her non-Hodgkin's lymphoma — until a group of cancer researchers reported (PDF) that glyphosate, the key ingredient in the popular weed killer Roundup, is “probably carcinogenic to humans” (PDF).That's the same herbicide Sheppard said she sprayed on her coffee farm in Hawaii for five years.“I was incensed,” said Sheppard, 67. “We had no idea.”Sheppard is one of more than 800 cancer patients suing Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, claiming the company failed to warn consumers about the risk of cancer associated with Roundup products.Monsanto says there's no proof that glyphosate is carcinogenic. In fact, it cites a report by the Environmental Protection Agency's Cancer Assessment Review Committee that saidglyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans” (PDF).But the former chairman of that committee offered to stop an independent review on whether glyphosate could cause cancer, according to a plaintffs' motion to compel his deposition. And that has left Sheppard even more incensed.
Monsanto pitches its products like they are miracles sent from God. It's more like the complete opposite. Check out this lobbyist for the multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. The video might give you a chuckle, until you realize the evil that you're looking at.