The San Fransisco Superior Court will soon hear testimony from a man dying of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma who claims Roundup (glyphosate) caused his cancer. This trial is the first of many against Monsanto under claims its widely-used herbicide lead to cancer.
Dewayne Johnson worked for a public-school system in California for two years when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. During his tenure with the school he used Roundup and other herbicides extensively for landscaping.
Right now, plaintiff and defense attorneys are covering legal requirements are in jury selection and will begin opening statements as early as the end of this week. Johnson will likely testify next week.
More than 2,000 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients who use Roundup have reached out to plaintiff attorney Timothy Litzenburg with similar claims, according to CNN. Johnson’s trial will be heard first because California expedites court processes for dying plaintiffs.
Bloomberg reports that Johnson’s attorney says, “the world is watching, and it’s unofficially a bellwhether case.” Meaning, he believes what happens in California this week and next will be a good indicator of future court outcomes. Plaintiffs are seeking financial compensation, a minimum of $75,000 but Monsanto representatives anticipate lawyers will ask for millions.
The question that will ultimately determine the outcome: Does glyphosate cause cancer?
Monsanto says they’ll be successful at trial because time after time glyphosate has proven to be safe.
“This is 100% based on IARC [which is associated with the World Health Organization, WHO],” says Scott Partridge, Monsanto vice president of global strategy in an interview with AgWeb concerning the trial. “Since then we have seen a number of things, WHO has come out and said glyphosate isn’t a carcinogen, we’ve reregistered glyphosate in a number of countries—namely EU—and the most significant epidemiology study found no association with glyphosate and any form of cancer.”
Plaintiff attorneys have filed dozens more studies and experts defending their stance that glyphosate leads to cancer.
“A civil jury is the last great equalizer in American,” Litzenburg told Bloomberg. “We’re excited to get 12 people off the street, telling our story to a bunch of regular folks, hearing the other side, and then letting them decide what’s right.”
If lawyers and activists are successful, this could have a sizeable effect on the way Midwest farmers operate. A win for the plaintiff could cause a trickle-down effect that limits the way farmers can use the world’s most popular herbicide.
“There are hundreds of cases filed in St. Louis, so it’s coming to the Midwest soon,” Partridge adds. “We’re not going to just settle these cases, there is no scientific reason to roll over and pay ransom—it’s just wrong.”
He says they’re taking a stand for the safety and usefulness of the product, a product they hope farmers will always be able to use.