Jury Awards $289 Million in Case Linking Weed Killer to Man’s Cancer

A $289 million award against Monsanto in a case linking its Roundup weed killer to terminal cancer in a former school groundskeeper may lead to similar judgments against the company, according to the man’s lawyers.

The ruling in favor of Dewayne Johnson, 46, was announced in San Francisco Friday. Roundup contributed to Johnson’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Monsanto should have provided a warning label about the potential health risks, the state Superior Court jury said in its decision, the Associated Press reported.

“I’m glad to be here to be able to help in a cause that’s way bigger than me,” Johnson said at a news conference after the verdict was announced.

This was the first Roundup-related case filed by a cancer patient against Monsanto, and was expedited because court filings noted that Johnson was dying. The case could set a precedent for many others, according to the AP.

The company will appeal, said Monsanto spokesman Scott Partridge, who noted that scientific studies and two government agencies have concluded that Roundup does not cause cancer.

Glyphosate — the active ingredient in Roundup — is safe when used according to label directions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

But in 2015, glyphosate was classified as a “probable human carcinogen,” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, the AP reported.

Glyphosate is on California’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer.


Court Rules That U.S. Must Halt Sales of Pesticide

The Environmental Protection Agency must remove the pesticide chlorpyrifos from sale in the United States within 60 days, a federal appeals court has ordered.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the Trump administration put public health at risk by reversing an Obama administration decision to ban the pesticide. Chlorpyrifos was created by Dow Chemical and is widely used on citrus fruits, apples and other crops, the Associated Press reported.

Even tiny levels of exposure to chlorpyrifos can damage babies’ brains, research shows.

Last year, a coalition of farmworkers and environmental groups launched a legal challenge after then-EPA chief Scott Pruitt scrapped plans to ban chlorpyrifos. The attorneys general for California, New York, Massachusetts and a number of other states joined the case against EPA, the AP reported.

In the decision, the court said Pruitt violated federal law by ignoring the conclusions of EPA scientists that chlorpyrifos is a health threat.

“Some things are too sacred to play politics with, and our kids top the list,” said Erik Olson, senior director of health and food at the Natural Resources Defense Council, the AP reported.

“The court has made it clear that children’s health must come before powerful polluters. This is a victory for parents everywhere who want to feed their kids fruits and veggies without fear it’s harming their brains or poisoning communities,” Olson said.

The EPA is reviewing the court ruling, agency spokesman Michael Abboud said. It could appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, the AP reported.

Posted: August 2018

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