California Cancer Victim Awarded $289 Million Settlement from Monsanto over RoundUp

Aug 17, 2018  | 3 min  | Ep4352

The Trump Administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule was delivered a legal blow this week when a South Carolina federal judge issued an injunction. The decision leaves the country with a patchwork of laws governing the nation’s streams, lakes and rivers.

Agricultural giant Monsanto has been embroiled in a court case over its popular herbicide Roundup. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the mix, has come under increased scrutiny which was been capped by a high-profile court case.

Josh Buettner has the story.

Judge Suzanne Bolanos/San Francisco, California Superior Court: “I will now read the verdict in the matter of Dewayne Johnson, plantiff vs. Monsanto company, defendant.”

Last week’s California court decision awarding $289 million in damages to a dying man who claims Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer gave him cancer rocked the agritech industry.  Shares in German-based Bayer, which recently acquired rival Monsanto for $63 billion, dropped to their lowest level in 5 years on the news. 

Legal analysts say the jury’s decision could bolster thousands of similar pending lawsuits involving a product once labeled a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization, and considered as such by the state of California.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the European Union view Roundup as safe.

Judge Suzanne Bolanos/San Francisco, California Superior Court: “Was the Roundup Pro, or Ranger Pro, design a substantial factor in causing harm to Mr. Johnson. Answer: Yes.”

Glyphosate is a broad spectrum herbicide widely utilized in agriculture, landscaping and consumer applications.  The chemical’s use has dramatically increased since the introduction of Roundup resistant genetically modified crops like corn and soybeans.

Another bombshell dropped this week as The Environmental Working Group, an environmental advocacy organization, said testing revealed a number of breakfast foods like cereal, oats and granola contain potentially dangerous amounts of glyphosate.  The group states more than 250 million pounds of the chemical are sprayed on American crops annually.

Judge Suzanne Bolanos/San Francisco, California Superior Court: “Would ordinary consumers have recognized the potential risk. Answer, No.”

Monsanto responded stating that even at the highest level reported by the EWG, an adult would have to eat 118 pounds of the food item every day for the rest of their life to reach the EPA’s limit.

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson’s case was the first filed against Monsanto by a cancer patient to reach trial.  Johnson was exposed to Roundup as a school groundskeeper.  He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2014. 

Judge Suzanne Bolanos/San Francisco, California Superior Court:  “Did Monsanto fail to adequately warn of the potential risks, answer Yes. Was the lack of sufficient warnings a substantial factor in causing harm to Mr. Johnson. Answer, Yes.”

In response to the verdict, France’s Environment Minister declared “the beginning of a war” against glyphosate, setting EU farm interests on edge.

Monsanto denies Roundup is carcinogenic and will appeal the jury’s decision.

For Market to Market, I’m Josh Buettner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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