US Federal Court Now Looking into Monsanto’s Roundup
Claims that the active ingredient St. Louis, MO-based Monsanto (NYSE:MON) widely used weed killer Roundup can cause cancer have been evaluated by international agencies, US and foreign regulators and the product’s manufacturer agribusiness giant Monsanto.
Now, a federal judge in San Francisco is conducting his own review during an unusual set of court hearings that began Monday. It has big stakes for Monsanto and hundreds of farmers and others who have sued the company.
US District Judge Vince Chhabria will spend a week hearing from experts to help decide whether there is valid scientific evidence to support the lawsuits’ claim that exposure to Roundup can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Judge Chhabria is presiding over more than 300 lawsuits against Monsanto Co. by cancer victims and their families who say the company long knew about Roundup’s cancer risk but failed to warn them.
The plaintiffs must 1st persuade Judge Chhabria that he should allow their epidemiologists and other doctors to testify to a jury that Roundup can cause cancer. Many regulators have rejected the link, and Monsanto denies it and says hundreds of studies have found glyphosate, Roundup’s active ingredient is safe.
Judge Chhabria will not determine if the cancer connection exists, but whether the claim has been tested, reviewed and published and is widely accepted in the scientific community.
“It’s game over for the plaintiffs if they cannot get over this hurdle,” said an expert in federal court procedure at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
Monsanto also sells GE (genetically engineered) seeds to produce crops that can tolerate being sprayed with glyphosate as the surrounding weeds die.
But the herbicide came under increasing scrutiny after the International Agency for Research on Cancer, based in Lyon, France, part of the World Health Organization classified it as a “probable human carcinogen” in Y 2015. A 100’s of lawsuits against Monsanto in federal and states courts followed, and California added glyphosate to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer.
Monsanto has attacked the international research agency’s opinion as an outlier.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says glyphosate is safe for humans when used in accordance with label directions.
A draft report by the agency last year concluded the herbicide is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. The report noted science reviews by numerous other countries as well as a 2017 National Institute of Health survey had reached the same conclusion.
“There are more than 800 published studies, which demonstrate that glyphosate is safe and there is no association whatsoever with any form of cancer,” said the Vice President of Strategy at Monsanto.
A federal judge in Sacramento last week blocked California from requiring that Roundup carry a label stating that it is known to cause cancer, saying the warning is misleading because almost all regulators have concluded there is no evidence glyphosate is a carcinogen.
An attorney for the plaintiffs, Timothy Litzenburg, said the connection between glyphosate and cancer is not “junk science.”
“You can just do a literature search and find many, many peer-reviewed, published articles concluding that glyphosate exposure increases the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” he said.
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