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The History of Monsanto’s Roundup Weed Killer
In 1970, Monsanto developed glyphosate to kill weeds and grasses that hinder crop growth. They marketed the chemical as Roundup weed killer, and by 2007, it had become the most widely used herbicide in the United States with an estimated 1.4 billion pounds being used in more than 160 countries every year.
The herbicide became especially popular with the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that are resistant to glyphosate, including corn, cotton, and soybeans. These glyphosate-resistant or “Roundup-Ready” plants aided farmers by allowing them to spray their fields with weed-killing herbicides without destroying their crops.
Cancers Associated With Monsanto’s Roundup
Despite its widespread use, the safety of Monsanto’s Roundup has been debated for several years. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed alleging that people have developed many types of blood cancers after using the product, including:
- Anaplastic Large T-Cell Lymphoma
- Follicular B-Cell Lymphoma
- Mediastinal B-Cell Lymphoma
- Large B-Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL)
- Mantle Cell Lymphoma
- High-Grade Mature B-Cell Lymphoma
- Hairy Cell Leukemia
- Acute T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma
- Thymic Lymphoma
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Studies on Monsanto Cancer Risks
Studies conducted to discover cancer risks associated with Roundup have produced conflicting results.
In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released an investigation in which they researched the safety of five pesticides on the market to determine if they were carcinogenic. Glyphosate was among the pesticides analyzed during this investigation.
The results revealed that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” based on convincing evidence that the pesticide had created tumors and cancer in laboratory animals. Particularly, the IARC found that exposure to glyphosate led to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, B-cell lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had also labeled glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen back in 1995 but later changed their beliefs, arguing in 2017 that the pesticide is not toxic to humans or animals. Monsanto’s representatives also argue that their herbicide poses no cancer threat.
With studies producing conflicting results, it is hard to determine whether glyphosate can truly cause cancer, but the number of lawsuits filed as a result of the issue are telling.
According to Bayer’s 2019 Half-Year Financial Report, approximately 18,400 cancer patients and their families have filed lawsuits against Monsanto, claiming the company has been aware of the potential dangers of glyphosate and failed to properly warn consumers. Nonetheless, Monsanto refutes these claims.
Recent Monsanto Verdicts
As of summer 2022, Monsanto/Bayer have paid about $11 billion to settle nearly 100,000 Roundup lawsuits nationwide. major milestone cases include:
- Johnson v Monsanto (August 2018) — The 46-year-old plaintiff was awarded $289.2 million, including $250 million in punitive damages, after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with large cell transformation. He had been using Roundup products on the school properties where he worked as a groundskeeper for many years. Though the jury had initially awarded $289 million, the judge later capped the punitive damage award, reducing the total verdict to $78.5 million.
- Hardeman v Monsanto (February 2019) — $80.2 million. The plaintiff, a 70-year-old male from Sonoma County, California, was awarded $80 million, including $75 million in punitive damages, in 2015 after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This was the first Federal Court case from the Roundup MDL to go to trial. The plaintiff and his wife lived on 56 acres that were once used as an exotic animal refuge. The plaintiff had been using Roundup products to treat poison oak, weeds, and overgrowth on his property from 1980 until 2012
- Pilliod v Monsanto (May 2019) — $2.055 billion. The plaintiff living in Livermore, California, was awarded a staggering verdict of $2,055,206,173, which included $2 billion in punitive damages, after he developed large B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma and his wife was diagnosed with central nervous system lymphoma which later progressed to NHL. Both the plaintiff and his wife had been using Roundup products regularly around their home and occasionally at other properties.
Was Your Cancer Caused by Monsanto Roundup?
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