After much debate about whether glyphosate-based herbicides lead to a form of cancer known as non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a study has confirmed that people with high exposure to the popular weed-killing pesticide have a 41% increased risk of developing terminal NHL, also known as “lymphoma.” One weed-killing product, Roundup, has been linked to numerous cancer diagnoses in farmers and others who’ve used it for many years, and at the current time, there are over 9,000 lawsuits against Monsanto and its German owner, Bayer AG, blaming the company and its glyphosate-based herbicides for their cancer.
In August 2018, a San Francisco jury ruled that Roundup, the most popular weed killer in the world, gave a former school groundskeeper, Dewayne “Lee” Johnston, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and awarded him $289 million in damages ($250 million in punitive damages and $39 million in compensatory damages). In October 2018, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos drastically cut the punitive damages amount. She ruled the ratio between the compensatory damages and the punitive damages must be 1 to 1, which reduced the amount from $250 million to $39.25 million.
In late 2018, Bayer announced that the number of U.S. lawsuits against the Roundup maker rose to about 8,000 after the company was ordered to pay Johnston $289 million in damages for not warning him about the potential cancer risks of using the spray. The number of lawsuits filed in early 2019 is now around 9,000, and that number could still grow as the link between glyphosate and NHL has now been confirmed. The next trial is set to start February 25, and there are numerous others scheduled into the year 2021.
Monsanto Denies Link
While Monsanto maintains there’s no legitimate scientific research showing a definitive link between glyphosate and NHL (or any type of cancer) and while the EPA has previously said that glyphosate is “not likely” to cause cancer, a new scientific analysis shows that people with long-term exposure to the weed killer are 41% more likely to develop NHL than those not exposed to the pesticide. Monsanto has steadfastly denied any link and accused the scientists with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) who classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015 of engaging in “improper conduct.” Monsanto further claimed the IARC “failed to give adequate weight to several important studies.”
What makes the latest analysis so compelling is that three of the authors of the study have direct ties to the EPA and served as board members on a scientific advisory panel on glyphosate in 2016. One of the co-authors, Lianne Sheppard, professor in the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences department at the University of Washington, said previous studies on whether glyphosate was a carcinogen failed to follow proper scientific protocols. Simply put, she said it (the previous study) was wrong.
Bayer stands firm in its position that Roundup does not cause cancer. In a recent statement, the company cites the prior EPA report and says that glyphosate herbicides have been “extensively evaluated” and are proven to be a “safe and efficient weed control tool.”
U.S. District Judge Vince Chaabria in San Francisco is overseeing all federal litigation against Bayer AG’s Monsanto unit regarding the Roundup product.