Osborn & Barr, an advertising firm based in St. Louis, Missouri, is facing more than 130 lawsuits over the link between its former client, Monsanto, and cases of cancer associated with Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide, marketed as Roundup.
The lawsuits were filed last week in the 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis against Creve Coeur-based Monsanto, naming Osborn & Barr as a co-defendant, for its role in promoting the glyphosate-based herbicide.
According to the filings, Monsanto’s Roundup is carcinogenic—a designation the company adamantly disputes–and connected to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which many of the plaintiffs were diagnosed with.
“While existing lawsuits focus on holding Monsanto liable for cancer allegedly linked to glyphosate, the inclusion of the advertising agency that helped market Roundup is a different approach in the legal battle,” St. Louis Today reports.
“The filings on behalf of 136 plaintiffs argue that for two decades, Osborn Barr represented Roundup as a product that created ‘no unreasonable risks to human health or the environment.’”
“It was integral to the marketing of glyphosate,” prominent environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is working with Los Angeles law office, Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, on the cases, told the newspaper. “There was no way for our clients to understand the risk they were taking because of the deception of Monsanto and Osborn & Barr.”
Among the allegations, the plaintiffs say Osborn & Barr positioned Roundup as being “safer than table salt” and “practically nontoxic”—in ads that were banned in New York state in the 1990s because of the misleading claims.
Monsanto refutes the lawsuit, and the implication of Osborn & Barr, suggesting that the agency is only being targeted because the plaintiffs’ lawyers are having difficulty “confronting the 800 studies and the monumental evidence that demonstrates that glyphosate does not cause cancer,” Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy told St. Louis Today.
In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Earlier this year a judge ruled in favor of a California regulation that will require Monsanto to follow Proposition 65 rules that require products linked to cancer and sold in the state to include proper warnings over the product’s safety risks.
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