Monsanto is found guilty in Roundup trial

Roman Schwartz
August 11, 2018

Johnson is one of some 5,000 plaintiffs across the USA and his victory is likely to lead to many more claims against Monsanto, which was recently bought by Geman chemical giant Bayer AG. He worked at the time as a groundskeeper for the school district in Benicia, a suburb north of San Francisco.

"Roundup could cause cancer", Johnson's lawyer Brent Wisner said in a statement, according to the news outlet.

Its attorneys say they have the bulk of scientific research firmly on their side, and that they will appeal against the verdict, meaning it could be years before Johnson and his family see a dime of the damage award.

Johnson's case, filed in 2016, was fast-tracked for trial due to the severity of his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system that he alleges was caused by Roundup and Ranger Pro, another Monsanto glyphosate herbicide. "The company chose corporate profit and greed above humanity". Although not involved in the just-concluded trial, the firm represents more than 100 clients now with similar claims.

Over the course of the four-week trial, jurors heard testimony by statisticians, doctors, public health researchers and epidemiologists who disagreed on whether glyphosate can cause cancer.

There is conflicted evidence linking glyphosate and cancer.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says glyphosate is safe when users follow directions on the label.

It concluded that glyphosate "is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet". The World Health Organisation reported that it is "probably carcinogenic to humans", but despite that finding, the European Commission recently granted the substance another five-year licence.

"Monsanto made Roundup the oxycontin of pesticides and now the addiction and damage they caused have come home to roost", said Ken Cook, President of the Environmental Working Group, a US environmental organization that researches toxic chemicals and advocates for corporate accountability. Johnson's attorneys sought and won $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million of the $373 million they wanted in punitive damages.

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"This should send a strong message to the boardroom of Monsanto", Kennedy added.

Dressed casually, Johnson had a brief exchange with his lawyer when that figure was revealed, then bowed his head as another one of his lawyers patted him on the back and whispered to him.

"I understand that we all have sympathy for Mr Johnson, certainly the jury had sympathy for Mr Johnson, but that should not change the manner in which legal decisions are made". He later made a call on his cellphone.

Roundup is one of the country's most popular weedkiller brands, while glyphosate herbicides are the most widely used herbicide in United Kingdom agriculture.

Mr Kennedy Jr, the son of the late U.S. senator, said: "I think the verdict is going to trigger a cascade of new cases".

In announcing the verdict, Bolanos read a list of questions the jury was presented regarding the safety of Roundup and whether its users could foresee any risks associated with it.

"Did Monsanto fail to adequately warn of the danger?"

To each of those questions, the jury's response was, "Yes".

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