Monsanto Lawsuit Over Cancer Claims Can Proceed, Federal Judge Rules

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson listens as attorney Brent Wisner speaks about his condition during the Monsanto trial in San Francisco California on July 09 2018. — AFP pic

Monsanto Lawsuit Over Cancer Claims Can Proceed, Federal Judge Rules

Evidence that Roundup weed killer can cause cancer seems "weak", but experts can still make that claim at trial, a US judge ruled Tuesday.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco followed years of litigation and weeks of hearings about the contentious science around the safety of glyphosate.

While evidence that glyphosate - the active ingredient in Roundup - can cause Hodgkin's lymphoma is "rather weak", the opinions of the three experts are not "junk science" that should be excluded from a trial, Chhabria ruled.

The company had told Chhabria in March that none of the plaintiffs' specialists fulfilled scientific or legal requirements for admissibility and urged the judge to dismiss the cases.

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The outcome of Johnson's case will not affect the hundreds of other lawsuits in state and federal courts, but it may serve as an indicator of how the others might go. Monsanto has vehemently denied such a connection.

But he said a sensible jury could conclude, based on the results of four experts he allowed, that glyphosate can cause cancer in humans.

"The single most relevant study, best study, study of human beings who, like Mr. Johnson, are licensed pesticide applicators concluded glyphosate is not associated with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Mr. Johnson's cancer", said Lombardi.

Up next, Chhabria said, individual plaintiffs will need to present "enough evidence to warrant a jury trial on whether glyphosate caused the National Hockey League [cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma] they developed".

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Monsanto brought in its own expert, Lorelei Mucci, a cancer epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who praised the 2017 study. After two years, Johnson developed lesions on his body - later diagnosed as Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

The company Monsanto faces 5,000 lawsuits across America as it's alleged that one of their products, Roundup - which is still sold in the United Kingdom - can cause cancer. Farmers in California have been using the weed killer on more than 200 types of crops.

But the World Health Organization in 2015 classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans". Homeowners use it on their lawns and gardens.

Monsanto also pointed to sections of the opinion that questioned the plaintiffs' evidence. A draft report by the agency a year ago concluded the herbicide is not likely to be carcinogenic to people.

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