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posted by martyb on Friday June 22 2018, @11:05PM   Printer-friendly
from the something-that-kills-something-might-be-bad-for-you dept.

In the first trial of its kind, a Californian dying of cancer is suing US agrochemical giant Monsanto, claiming its popular herbicide Roundup caused his disease—a case that could have sweeping ramifications.

The stakes are high for Monsanto, which could face massive losses should it have to pay out damages over the product, whose main ingredient is glyphosate, a substance which some say is dangerously carcinogenic.

Dewayne Johnson, a 46-year-old father of two, says he is sick because of contact with Roundup, which he used for two years from 2012 as a groundskeeper for the Benicia school district near San Francisco, his lawyer Timothy Litzenburg told AFP.

Thousands of lawsuits targeting Monsanto are currently proceeding through the US court system, according to American media.

Litzenburg says he represents hundreds of people who also say they are victims of glyphosate.

Whether the substance causes cancer has been the source of endless debate among government regulators, health experts and lawyers.

"A major part of that job was spraying Roundup or Ranger Pro (a similar Monsanto product)... He sprayed it 20 to 40 times per year, sometimes hundreds of gallons at a time on the school properties," Litzenburg said.

In 2014, Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer that affects white blood cells. Two years later, and no longer able to work, he filed suit against Monsanto, which he accuses of hiding its product's dangers.

"His case has been expedited because he currently has only a few months to live," his lawyer said.

Wikipedia entry on glyphosate.


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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by frojack on Friday June 22 2018, @11:22PM (6 children)

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday June 22 2018, @11:22PM (#697018) Journal

    Glyphosate has been studied by just about everybody, and nobody has proven a cancer risk. Even if the initial Monsanto tests were rushed, everyone plus Dog has done all sorts of tests, including direct exposure to the spray.

    At this point even the EU thinks its safe.

    So he has a pretty steep scientific hill to climb.

    By the way, Monsanto is no more. Bayer bought them.
    https://qz.com/1297749/the-end-of-the-monsanto-brand-bayer-pharmaceuticals-is-dropping-the-name-monsanto/ [qz.com]

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  • (Score: 2, Troll) by bob_super on Saturday June 23 2018, @12:20AM (3 children)

    by bob_super (1357) on Saturday June 23 2018, @12:20AM (#697050)

    > At this point even the EU thinks its safe.

    Which is why they are phasing it out by 2022 ?
    The delay is the subject of much arguing, as it is in France and in a few other countries, but I guess they're worried about substitutes being ineffective or more dangerous.

    Calling it "safe" is a complete misrepresentation of the EU's position.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by frojack on Saturday June 23 2018, @12:44AM (2 children)

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 23 2018, @12:44AM (#697064) Journal

      They just extended the license to 2022. There is no indication they are phasing it out.
      But hey, way to Fake News it once again.

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      • (Score: 3, Informative) by bob_super on Saturday June 23 2018, @01:21AM (1 child)

        by bob_super (1357) on Saturday June 23 2018, @01:21AM (#697071)

        The EU vote was pretty disputed, and in the end the Germans protected Bayer (now owner of Monsanto). The odds of a renewal in 2022, when everyone is talking about bans [baumhedlundlaw.com], are pretty slim.
        But you are correct that I shouldn't have said "phasing out". Not intentional fake news, misread on my part.

        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday June 23 2018, @06:18AM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 23 2018, @06:18AM (#697137) Journal

          Wrong again.

          On Monday, with the herbicide’s registration set to expire next month, 18 of the union’s member states voted in favor of extending its use for five years, nine voted against the proposal and one abstained. The vote was weighted by population size.

          Germany's vote was neither deciseive nor unanimous.
          https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/27/business/eu-glyphosate-pesticide.html [nytimes.com]

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  • (Score: 2) by Hartree on Saturday June 23 2018, @03:46AM

    by Hartree (195) on Saturday June 23 2018, @03:46AM (#697115)

    Why do you need to prove it? You just have to convince a jury that it does, award damages and then not get overturned on appeal. Voila, you have precedent and thus a whole new income stream. I'm sure that some seedier portions of the legal industry are salivating over this.

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 23 2018, @06:27PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 23 2018, @06:27PM (#697300)

    Glyphosate has been studied by just about everybody, and nobody has proven a cancer risk.

    But Roundup isn't just glyphosate. So even if glyphosate is safe it doesn't mean Roundup is safe or stays safe after it's applied:
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/weed-whacking-herbicide-p/ [scientificamerican.com]

    But in the new study, scientists found that Roundup’s inert ingredients amplified the toxic effect on human cells—even at concentrations much more diluted than those used on farms and lawns.

    One specific inert ingredient, polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, was more deadly to human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells than the herbicide itself – a finding the researchers call “astonishing.”

    Glyphosate doesn't necessarily stay glyphosate:
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166445X16302375 [sciencedirect.com]