By Kirk Schroder, Ellwood Thompson’s Food Advocate
A former groundskeeper for a school district in Northern California, Dewayne Johnson, has successfully sued Monsanto for $289 Million after a jury recently found that the popular weedkiller “Roundup” is the cause of the terminally ill man’s cancer. According to USA TODAY, the jury found that Johnson's non-Hodgkin lymphoma was at least partly due to using glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup. Johnson regularly used glyphosate to spray fields while working as a groundskeeper. Monsanto "acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished for its conduct," Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos announced in court. The jury further found that Monsanto was responsible for “negligent failure” and knew or should have known that its product was “dangerous."
Monsanto's "Roundup" weedkiller contains glyphosate which is used to kill weeds without killing plants and crops. The World Health Organization in March 2015 issued a report stating that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans". CNN reports that Monsanto is facing hundreds of cases where people are suing the company claiming Roundup gave them cancer. Hundreds more plaintiffs -- including cancer patients’ spouses or their estates -- have also sued Monsanto, making similar claims. Through discovery during the trial, documents came to light exposing Monsanto’s efforts to discredit the science linking glyphosate to cancer.
According to the Food Politics blog by Marion Nestle, Glyphosate is used in incomprehensibly huge amounts. The organic advocate, Charles Benbrook, published statistics on its use in 2016. Monsanto’s published a rebuttal to Benbrook’s paper, but did not dispute his figures; instead, it argued only glyphosate is safe. Benbrook’s data show that 250 million pounds of glyphosate were applied to US crops in 2014 (by another source, worldwide use was 825,804,000 kilograms, or more than 1.8 billion pounds that year).