Monsanto Found Guilty in Cancer Lawsuit
On August 8, 2018, after three days of deliberation, a jury in California handed down a $289 million verdict against Monsanto – the company responsible for developing the weed-killing chemical glyphosate and the product RoundUp®. This came after a 46-year-old school groundskeeper, who is dying of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, sued the chemical and seed giant claiming he developed cancer after repeatedly spraying large quantities of Roundup® and other glyphosate-based herbicides on the school grounds.
Dewayne Johnson wrote in his lawsuit that he mixed and distributed hundreds of gallons of the deadly chemical up to 30 times per year as part of his job responsibilities. He cited glyphosate as the cause of his terminal cancer, saying Monsanto failed to warn consumers about the risks of using the product.
Four years after Johnson’s cancer diagnosis, the Superior Court jury found Monsanto guilty of not only allowing glyphosate products to be sold on the market when there was “clear and convincing evidence” that the product was hazardous, but also that Monsanto purposefully hid the evidence of its toxicity from the public while they continued to market and sell the chemical.
The judge agreed and added that Monsanto, “acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished for its conduct.”
Watch the judge delivering the verdict HERE.
When the verdict was read, Micah Dortch of the Potts Law Firm in Dallas who is representing more than 100 clients with claims similar to Johnson’s said, “Today the jury confirmed what we have known since our investigation began – that Monsanto knew Roundup® contained cancer-causing ingredients and failed to take this product off the shelf and protect consumers. The company chose corporate profit and greed above humanity.”
Dewayne Johnson after hearing the verdict at the superior court of California. Photograph: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
A History of Guilt
As part of the testimony presented during the trial, Monsanto’s internal strategy reports and company emails were brought to light, helping to convince the jury of Monsanto’s guilt using the words of its own scientists.
Testimony presented pointed to Monsanto’s scientific company research dating all the way back to the early 1980s showing they knew glyphosate was harmful.
Over the following decades, more and more research linked catastrophic health consequences to glyphosate and yet Monsanto kept it, along with Roundup®, on the market. Not only that, but they worked to cover up the negative research by spinning stories of safety throughout the media.
During the court case, the years Monsanto spent convincing farmers and household consumers to ignore the potential health-implications of glyphosate were compared to the tobacco industries lip service about the safety of cigarettes as they also hid facts, manipulated studies, and harassed scientists. (Coincidentally, Monsanto’s lead defense attorney was George Lombardi, who is known for his emphatic defense of big tobacco.)
Aimee Wagstaff, another attorney representing even more people with claims similar to Dewayne Johnson stated, “The jury paid attention throughout this long trial and clearly understood the science and also understood Monsanto’s role in trying to hide the truth.”
A Worldwide Health Crisis is Looming
Roundup® has become the most widely used weed killer in the history of chemical agriculture in the WORLD. Each year, more than 250 million pounds of glyphosate are sprayed on American crops. Even if you don’t personally use Roundup® at your house, you are still being exposed to it Every. Single. Day.
It’s in our rainwater and food supply now. It’s in our air. And even more shockingly, it’s collecting in our bodies.
A study looking at the long-term effects of Roundup® published in 2016, collected and tracked people’s urine over the age of 50 in California from 1993-1996 to 2014-2016. The percentage of people who tested positive for glyphosate, rose dramatically by 500% in that time while the levels of glyphosate in their urine jumped by 1208%!
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently published a new report called Breakfast with a Dose of Roundup? which shows staggering amounts of glyphosate in granola bars, oatmeals, and popular cereals (like Cheerios)! Glyphosate was found in all but 2 of the 45 popular products sampled and about ¾ of those had glyphosate levels higher than what EWG considers to be safe for human consumption.
While Roundup® and other glyphosate-based pesticides started out with the somewhat positive intention of destroying weeds to reduce the number of other pesticides sprayed on the plants, recent studies have shown many weeds have become resistant to Roundup® as a result. This has prompted farmers to increase how much Roundup® they are spraying on their crops, increasing the amount of glyphosate building up in the soil, water, and air. Incredulously, glyphosate is even now being sprayed just before conventional wheat, barley, oats, and beans are harvested in order to kill the plant quicker, creating a faster harvest time.
Based on how much glyphosate is in our environment, even if you eat organically-grown produce you are basically guaranteed to be chowing down on some of the cancer-causing chemical. No crop can avoid rainfall – all our crops are being hydrated with glyphosate falling from the sky. The conventional farm being sprayed with Roundup® will affect the organic farm down the street as the breeze carries the tiny toxic chemicals down the lane.
Based on the hundreds of court cases pending against Monsanto, with this $289 million precedent being set, hopefully, we’ll see more real research coming to light in regards to glyphosate’s safety – or lack thereof. It has already been shown to be an endocrine disruptor by a study conducted by researchers from Flinders University in Australia, as it blocks the healthy functioning of hormones (particularly progesterone) and it has been linked to cancer by California state scientists and the World Health Organization.
For now, do your best to avoid eating products you know contain high levels of glyphosates. Vote with your dollars and only buy organic products – and whenever possible buy directly from your local organic farms.
Stay aware of what’s happening in your local schools, playgrounds, and parks. If you see Roundup® or a similar glyphosate-laden pesticide being sprayed where you and your kids walk and play…speak up. Demand the town stop using such a deadly chemical. If we don’t make our voices heard, nothing will change. And we all deserve better.
Ignorance, denial and greed….. no longer acceptable. How can we detox the world? One step at a time I suppose.
Absolutely. One step at a time and this is a huge step in the right direction.
For a multinational corporation like Monsanto, 289M is a drop in the bucket. How much of the total amount that the company is required to pay will actually be paid to the people whose health was compromised by its malfeasance, and how much of it is going into the pockets of lawyers?
Is there any amount that will resurrect the lives of Asian Indian farmers who have died as a result of Monsanto’s GMO project, and the fact that the original organic soil of those farmers’ land was lost due to the use of farming practices put in place by Monsanto representatives?
289 million dollars is a drop in the bucket for a multinational corporation like Monsanto. Its criminal activity extends far beyond the borders of the U.S.; and for justice to truly be meted out, perhaps an international criminal court will be required to do so.
Yes, it is. But it’s also sending a strong message to the company that something important is shifting in the world. With all of the many hundreds of court cases pending, and more and more people becoming aware of the toxicity and invasiveness of glyphosate, if everyone continues to speak out and work together there is hope of preventing future illness in millions and millions more people.
Each of us can become more vocal, educate others, and start making our own environment as green as possible. To paraphrase a great quote “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.” We can’t afford to do nothing if we want to leave an environment fit for our children and grandchildren to thrive.