By Karen Perkins
A San Francisco jury recently awarded DeWayne Johnson $289 million from Monsanto Chemical Corporation. Johnson was a Benicia Public School groundskeeper. He has Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, a type of cancer. For years he applied Monsanto’s product, Roundup/glyphosate, on school grounds.
The jury found Roundup/glyphosate, “having been a substantial factor in causing Mr. Johnson’s cancer.”
The lead attorneys representing Johnson were Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brent Wisner. After the verdict, Wisner said, “We were finally able to show the jury the secret, internal Monsanto documents proving that Monsanto has known for decades that…Roundup could cause cancer.”
In addition, their case was strengthened by the World Health Organization having declared Roundup/glyphosate “a probable carcinogen” and California’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placing Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, on the Proposition 65 list as “Known to the state of California to cause cancer.”
Johnson is 46 years old. He has terminal cancer and is expected to live only to 2020.
You might think your exposure to Roundup is small, certainly less than Johnson’s.
But how would you know? There is often little to no prominently displayed postings near where it has been sprayed. It has been sprayed for decades on school grounds, park grounds, grounds of public buildings, businesses, offices, shopping centers, median strips and walking trails.
In fact, Roundup is the most widely and heavily used herbicide in the history of the world.
Roundup’s Spreading Toxic Effects
What has been the cumulative effect, particularly for those with chronic exposures over many decades, as well as for those with more constant exposures, such as Johnson, a pesticide/herbicide applicator? While Johnson’s particular case focused on Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, many independent studies by reputable scientists at highly esteemed universities indicate Roundup/glyphosate may cause all sorts of cancers as well as autoimmune and neurological diseases.
Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, believes her studies of Roundup show it to be a major factor in the rise of autism and dementia. Similarly, we now know smoking tobacco is a “substantial factor” contributing to heart disease, osteoporosis, dementia and other diseases as well as causing cancer. Independent scientists have also found glyphosate contributes to many health problems by disrupting beneficial intestinal bacterial mechanisms.
Employing the Tobacco Handbook
Industry observers accuse Monsanto of sowing doubt and confusion, suppressing unfavorable scientific studies, cherry picking data, buying scientists and politicians and having cozy relationships with regulatory agencies. Additionally, at least one Monsanto vice president became a deputy administrator of the EPA. In other words, Monsanto borrowed from Big Tobacco’s playbook and tactics.
There are 4,000 individual cases pending against Monsanto all over the United States. The jury found “Monsanto acted with malice.” It awarded a $289 million fine, of which $250 million are in punitive damages to Johnson). The size of the fines are unprecedented. Anyone following this issue for decades is rejoicing and hoping that Monsanto’s game may be up.
Monsanto, anticipating billions in fines, is trying to “hide” by merging with Bayer Chemical Corporation. It is appealing the case and obviously will try, by any legal means, to avoid monetary compensation.
Ripple Effects Will Last for Years
If Monsanto is successful, it’s likely plaintiffs will start suing the employers using Monsanto’s and similar products. Employers, like the Benicia School District where Johnson worked, and/or their landscaping companies. The potential cascading effect will create real financial liability for these companies and employers.
Several countries, cities, counties and municipalities worldwide have already banned Roundup. Wisner said the verdict sent a message to Monsanto. He added, “its years of deception regarding Roundup is over and that they should put consumer safety first over profits.”
Courtesy of the Rossmoor News, August 29, 2018. Email Karen Perkins firstname.lastname@example.org