A former school groundkeeper, Dewayne Johnson, has been awarded $289 million in damages against Monsanto, after suing the pesticide manufacturer in a Californian Court. Jurors agreed that Monsanto’s product, Roundup, had contributed to Johnson’s cancer in what was the first trial against the behemoth with potentially thousands of other lawsuits to follow.
Monsanto, which was bought by pharmaceutical giant Bayer, said in a statement it did not agree with the verdict and plans to appeal.
“On the basis of scientific conclusions, the views of worldwide regulatory authorities and the decades-long practical experience with glyphosate use, Bayer is convinced that glyphosate is safe and does not cause cancer,” the company said in a statement.
Monsanto has always denied the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, causes cancer. Opponents have claimed it causes cancer and hormone disruption as well has being highly harmful to the earth and ground water systems. Glyphosate has been found in food products and in the urine of people. Exposure to the herbicide has skyrocketed as farmers have used the product since its launch in 1976 to boost yields and profits. Shortly afterwards, Monsanto began selling genetically modified seeds which were resisted to Roundup and now these GMO crops make up about 80% of US corn and 90% of US soybean along with growing figures worldwide in onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and beans amongst others.
The EU commission, despite facing widespread pressure from consumers, recently caved into Monsanto and issued a license for the product to be used on crops. This despite the 2015 ruling from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the UN World Health Organization, that glyphosate was a probable carcinogen. Unsealed records in the US federal court seem to suggest that Monsanto has for years been ‘ghostwriting’ research papers that have then been attribute to academics.
Johnson had acted as pest control manager for a school district and had used Roundup and Ranger Pro( same product, different name) throughout his work. Spraying from a 50 gallon tank, the product would often cover his face in windy weather.
“The cause is way bigger than me. Hopefully this thing will get the attention it needs,” Johnson said after the verdict. The jurors agreed that Monsanto had acted with “malice.”
“A unanimous jury in San Francisco has told Monsanto: ‘Enough. You did something wrong and now you have to pay,’ ” said Brent Wisner, Johnson’s lead trial lawyer. “There’s 4,000 other cases filed around the United States and there are countless thousand other people out there who are suffering from cancer because Monsanto didn’t give them a choice …We now have a way forward.”
Bayer plans to drop the name Monsanto after spending $64 million buying the company. Instead, products will be sold under the Bayer brand. Many are still wondering why Bayer, a pharmaceutical company heavily involved in ‘healthcare’ and consumer products wanted to purchase Monsanto, a company selling gmo seeds and herbicides. In addition to Roundup, Bayer’s brands include Alka Seltzer, Asprin, Dr Scholls and Rennie.