According to a report in the Guardian this week, the controversial biotech giant Monsanto has been ordered to pay more than $2 billion to a couple who got cancer after using the weedkiller Roundup. A California court ruled that the company was liable for the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer that was developed by Alva and Alberta Pilliod.
This is the third large court case that Monsanto has lost since their famous weedkiller has come under scrutiny.
In a statement after the verdict, R Brent Wisner, one of the Pilliods’ attorneys, said that Monsanto put their financial interests about the health of the general public.
“Monsanto has never had any interest in finding out whether Roundup is safe. Instead of investing in sound science, they invested millions in attacking science that threatened their business agenda,” Wisner said.
The Pilliods reportedly used Roundup for over 30 years to landscape numerous properties in the San Francisco area, and both of them ended up with cancer.
Michael Miller, one of the couple’s other attorneys, said that this case was a major victory, not just for the verdict, but also because the legal team was able to present a great deal of evidence against Monsanto, which is important to get on the record. In previous trials, the ability for legal teams to present evidence against Monsanto was extremely limited.
“We were finally allowed to show a jury the mountain of evidence showing Monsanto’s manipulation of science, the media, and regulatory agencies to forward their own agenda despite Roundup’s severe harm to the animal kingdom and humankind,” Miller said in a statement after the verdict.
Roundup contains a chemical called glyphosate, which has been shown in many studies to cause cancer. Despite these findings, the EPA has concluded that the chemical is safe, citing other contradictory studies. However, as an Intercept investigation revealed, the vast majority of those contradictory studies were commissioned by Monsanto. The data that the EPA was using to determine the safety of glyphosate was actually provided by Monsanto, which represents an obvious conflict of interest.
Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., senior science advisor for children’s environmental health at EWG called Monsanto’s relationship with regulators “outrageous.”
“The fact that the EPA relied largely on Monsanto’s own research to reach the conclusion glyphosate doesn’t cause cancer could be turned into a skit on The Daily Show. Allowing a company like Monsanto, with a long and damaging history of deception, to influence the EPA’s assessment of its own product is outrageous,” Olga said.
Bayer, who now owns Monsanto, said that it was “disappointed” in the ruling and that they will appeal. The company cited the EPA approval of the chemical and “the consensus among leading health regulators worldwide that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic, and the 40 years of extensive scientific research on which their favorable conclusions are based”.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys estimate that there are now 13,400 similar Roundup cancer cases pending in state and federal courts in the US alone, according to the Guardian.
In 2013, as evidence showing the dangers of the chemical started to reach the public, the EPA actually raised the accepted levels.
Glyphosate has been banned in many different countries all over the world, but is still on the market in the United States due to the EPA’s safety ruling.
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