Mass Lawsuits Claim Roundup Weed Killer Causes Cancer, Other Health Issues

CUREFall 2015
Volume 14
Issue 4

Could an ingredient in a popular weed killer be causing cancer?

Could an ingredient in a popular weed killer be causing cancer? Steam is gathering behind several mass-tort lawsuits claiming it has.

Specifically, the civil suits — which seek damages against Monsanto Co., a giant in the sale of seeds and weed killers — claim that the company’s herbicide Roundup has caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other health problems in farmers and others. Being put together by personal injury law firms around the country, the lawsuits had been filed in Delaware, New York and California as of mid-October, and lawyers had held meetings to seek more plaintiffs in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska. Among the plaintiffs already included in the suits are a migrant farm worker and the child of a migrant farm worker, both diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and a horticulture worker diagnosed with leukemia.

According to a Reuters report, the suits claim that, although Monsanto knew that glyphosate, Roundup’s main ingredient, was dangerous to health, the company “led a prolonged campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers and the general population that Roundup was safe.” One of the suits that was filed in California suggests that, when people eat crops sprayed with glyphosate, the chemical kills gut bacteria and accumulates in tissues within the body, causing health issues such as stomach and bowel problems, according to an article on the Anti- Media news website. In addition, a Houston law firm claims that Roundup has been associated with more than one kind of cancer, including multiple myeloma, cancers of the neck and oral cavity, and soft tissue sarcoma.

In March, the World Health Organization stated that, based on existing evidence, glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

“We can prove that Monsanto knew about the dangers of glyphosate,” Michael McDivitt, whose Colorado-based law firm is putting together cases for 50 individuals, stated in the Reuters report. “There are a lot of studies showing glyphosate causes these cancers.”

However, in November, the European Food Safety Authority found glyphosate unlikely to cause cancer in people. Monsanto, too, has denied the WHO’s claim about glyphosate, calling it one of the safest herbicides around.

“Glyphosate is not a carcinogen,” company spokeswoman Charla Lord told Reuters in an emailed statement. “The most extensive worldwide human health databases ever compiled on an agricultural product contradict the claims in the suits.”

Used not only by farmers but also by homeowners and others worldwide, Roundup generated $4.8 billion in revenue for Monsanto in fiscal 2015.

Monsanto and related entities are also facing 700 or more lawsuits over the use of different ingredients the company manufactured in the past, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), classified by the WHO as carcinogens. Those suits claim that exposure to these PCBs, made until the late 1970s, caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma in plaintiffs, Reuters reported.

Those who believe they may have claims against Monsanto can explore that possibility by consulting with personal injury or product liability law firms near them.

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