Monsanto Attempts Defense That Would Negate All Glyphosate-Causes-Cancer Lawsuits - Modern Farmer

Monsanto Attempts Defense That Would Negate All Glyphosate-Causes-Cancer Lawsuits

If successful, it’ll be awfully difficult for any other lawsuits to proceed.

Spraying herbicide.
Photography by Prayong Kotjuk on Shutterstock

Monsanto, acquired last year by Bayer AG, is the subject of literally thousands of lawsuits alleging that its flagship product, Roundup, causes cancer.

The first crop of those lawsuits went to trial this year (it’s fun to look back at the end of the year!), and have not gone well for the agrochemical giant; courts have awarded settlements in
the tens of millions of dollars against Monsanto. But Monsanto this week asked for something unusual, a Hail Mary that, if successful, might negate all of those pending lawsuits.

Roundup is the brand name for a broad-spectrum herbicide called glyphosate. Roundup is hugely successful, used everywhere from backyard gardens to thousand-acre monocrop operations, but it’s been repeatedly linked to cancer, most importantly in a World Health Organization 2015 classification.

Monsanto has vigorously argued that the link is inconclusive, and that’s sort of true, though much of the research saying it’s not a carcinogen was funded by Monsanto itself. Monsanto and Bayer have engaged in widespread attempts to defame and cause doubt about the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm, which made that 2015 classification.

In any case, one of the first lawsuits to go to court was the case of Edwin Hardeman, who sued Monsanto alleging that his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was caused by glyphosate, and that the company deliberately misled the public about the carcinogenic effects of the product. The initial hearing found a jury award Hardeman $80 million; it was reduced a few months later by a trial judge to $25 million.

Monsanto—we’re referring to the company that way because glyphosate is so deeply connected to Monsanto, though the actual entity in court is now Monsanto’s owner, Bayer—has vowed to appeal all decisions that go against it. This week, the company submitted a filing in court, arguing that the case never should have been brought to trial in the first place.

The crux of Monsanto’s argument is that the Environmental Protection Agency has repeatedly stated that glyphosate is not carcinogenic or a risk to human health. Therefore, had Monsanto included a label about glyphosate potentially causing cancer, it would have been in violation of the EPA, and thus Monsanto cannot be held responsible for following the law.

The Trump administration has announced its support for Monsanto’s court challenge. Last week, the EPA and the Department of Justice filed an amicus brief, stating that the court should overturn the ruling. An amicus brief is a document filed by a third party that’s not actually involved in the case itself; a judge can decide to use it or not. The government’s amicus brief in this case states, as reported by Reuters, that according to California law, a warning was not required on Roundup’s packaging. It further states that it would be against the law for Monsanto to have placed a warning label on the packaging, because that would contradict the EPA’s ruling of glyphosate as “not carcinogenic.” The US government has repeatedly sided with agribusiness in court cases during the Trump administration, allowing for reduced regulation in pork processing and refusing to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that even the EPA (under a previous administration) has said is unsafe.

If this challenge is successful, it will create a precedent that will be extremely difficult to overcome; if Monsanto was legally unable to warn customers about the carcinogenic nature of glyphosate, how can they be held responsible for that? This of course does not address the basic issue of whether glyphosate can in fact cause cancer, nor does it address the decades-long campaign to discredit opposing research, but none of that might matter. Bloomberg Environment writers suggest that a successful filing could lead to a drastically reduced settlement. That would be welcome news for Bayer, which has seen the price of its shares drop dramatically due to the lawsuits.


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4 years ago

Glycosphate “Roundup” has been poisoning the planet since its invention. The cancers are real. Monsanto and Bayer ONLY care about money, that’s Capitalism. The death of a farmer is of NO CONCERN to the chemical company. Fight for your lives farmers because they ARE on the line.

Anna Aureli
4 years ago

Monsanto, Bayer and Trump backing Monsanto have all sold their soul in the name of money. Very disturbing. They should all rot in jail for what they are doing to us and the planet.

Judith Ferraris
4 years ago

Once glyphosate was suspected of causing cancer, it should have been removed from the market until/unless it could be proven safe.

4 years ago

More scientific tests need to be done by labs that have no vested interest in the outcome. There is time to find out the truth. Any intelligent society should remove products that cause widespread cancerfrom the market.

Robert M.
4 years ago

Monsanto now Bayer..should be held responsible for all actions, when it’s been proven time after time that glyphosate is a carcinogen. Trump should not waste time trying to cover for Bayer and also sweeten up to Germany due to current geopolitical affairs. Disregarding what is already proven fact, kind of two faced since he is right now in the midst to disprove the events in Ukraine. Roundup should not be used in homes or in crops period. Kind of long time due for Roundup, a chemical thats been infecting ecosystems and people since the 1970’s. I voted for Trump but… Read more »

Brett Hickmann
4 years ago

Suddenly they’re pulling this card? Wow. Desperation time. Perhaps we should get one more good unbiased study that shows once and for all the stuff is harmful and does cause Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma among other things. I will never trust Trump or our EPA shown to be distrustful and on the side of big business always over the little people. They’re crooks that only care about thier capitalist interests and money rules above this earth or it’s people. Sick and twisted siding with a company who has repeatedly done harm to so many people and destroyed several ecosystems from their… Read more »

4 years ago

The epistemology study conducted at the University of Washington determined exposure to glyphosate increases the risk of Non Hodgkins Lymphoma by 41 percent. This was a study involving 54,000 who worked as licensed pesticide applicators stated Rachel Schaefer, co author UW doctoral student in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Science. As a result of these separate findings which by the way coincide with IRAC. Lianne Shepard, professor states she is more than ever convinced of Glyphosate is carcinogenic.

4 years ago

Fuck Bayer and the corrupt EPA. We all know that glyphosate formulations cause cancer, especially the 45,000 + cancer patients currently suing in the US.

4 years ago

Monsanto is evil,liars,paying test groups off,appointing their own people in test groups. Test are short term, they’ve created groups of people to go after and threaten, harass, demonize those finding the truth about Monsanto. Monsanto created agent orange etc,decimated our pollinators bees, butterflies, almost exterminated raptures,etc…stand up and fight big corporate who only care about money. Amen all GLORY to you Father God.

4 years ago

False. Non cancerous test results funded by montsanto given to epa as faked to be examined as of greater import as it presages epa ruling.