Hundreds Sue Monsanto Over Herbicide Cancer Link

glyphosate herbicide
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Monsanto, the St. Louis-based multinational seed and chemical company, is being challenged in court by hundreds of individuals who say that the company’s Roundup-brand of glyphosate-based herbicide is carcinogenic and can be linked to cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. While Monsanto’s glyphosate patent expired 17 years ago, the cases target the company, which developed the chemical in 1970.

Tim Litzenburg, an attorney with The Miller Firm, a Virginia-based law office filing many of the cases, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the total number of such cases will balloon to the thousands in the coming weeks, due to a statute of limitations in most states that gives individuals two years from the date on which they learned of a possible health connection to a certain product to file a lawsuit. As the World Health Organization concluded in March 2015 that there was “limited evidence of carcinogenicity” with regards to glyphosate, this statute of limitations will soon expire.

The alleged victims are primarily agricultural and landscape workers who have had long-term, consistent exposure to glyphosate.

Carey Gillam, a director of the consumer group U.S. Right to Know, says that many litigators expect these cases to go the way of asbestos, PBCs, and tobacco.

“They see thousands and thousands of potential plaintiffs, not just in the U.S., but around the world,” she says.

A decision as to whether the cases will make it to trial will come after an October court hearing; any possible trial would not take place until at least October 2018.

“Initially when these cases started to be filed, I was skeptical because Monsanto has such a strong track record of prevailing in court,” said Gillam. “But the more information that comes out through discovery and new scientific research that’s emerging, the more it looks like the plaintiffs may have a case.”

On Friday, a California state court dismissed a legal challenge by Monsanto to bar the state from adding glyphosate to a list of cancer-causing chemicals in accordance with Proposition 65. Once a chemical is added to the list, the manufacturer has a year to label it as a cancer-causing substance, Sam Delson, spokesman for the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, told RT.

Despite the findings of the original IARC study, both the Environmental Protection Agency and the European Food Safety Authority, have since stated that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.

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Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.