While the manufacturers of Roundup—Bayer AG—combat thousands of lawsuits regarding the safety of their product, they are also facing a trial in the court of public opinion. A recent wave of plaintiff victories in California has brought the safety of the popular herbicide Roundup into question and produced immense public scrutiny. Although Bayer AG claims that Roundup is safe, three juries have disagreed after being presented with evidence from both sides of the case. The plaintiffs claim that the active ingredient in Roundup—glyphosate—is a human carcinogen that can cause a blood cancer known as Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL).
What Juries are Saying
An extraordinary wave of juror advocacy has occurred after Bayer filed appeals to reduce the monetary damages awarded to the plaintiffs. Jurors from the Roundup trials have felt compelled to write letters to the judge voicing their profound concerns about Roundup’s safety.
Juror Robert Howard was one of nine jurors who concluded that glyphosate exposure likely caused former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson’s cancer and awarded him $289 million. After
attending a post-trial hearing that suggested the award would be reduced, Howard felt a “civic duty” to write a letter to California Superior Court Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos expressing his concerns regarding Roundup’s safety. Howard now contributes to an anti-Roundup blog called Glyphosate Girl. Johnson’s award was later reduced to $78 million.
In another case, Judge Vince Chhabria reduced the jury’s award from $80.27 million to $25.27 million for Edwin Hardeman who used Roundup for decades starting in the 1980s and was diagnosed with NHL in 2014. After the jury’s award was slashed, a juror wrote the judge asking him not to decrease the award because “based on the evidence provided, ‘reprehensible’ is much too kind a word to describe the actions of the Monsanto employees responsible for putting Roundup on the shelves of stores without a cancer warning on the label.”
Juror Robert Howard from the Johnson trial also wrote to the judge in the Hardeman case expressing his hope that the jury’s award will stand: “It is just what happens when jurors find evidence of such egregious behavior by a company that they feel it is their duty to speak out and support their verdicts in the hope the company will be compelled to change its behavior.”
Public Sentiment About Roundup
The recent scientific discoveries regarding the dangers of glyphosate and the subsequent Roundup cases have sparked public outcry over the safety of Roundup.
In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen.” The announcement triggered lawsuits against Monsanto- the original manufacturer of Roundup. Plaintiffs alleged that Monsanto knew of the purported health risks of Roundup since the 1990s when a connection between glyphosate and lymphoma was uncovered. However, the company downplayed the results and did not put a warning label on products leading consumers to believe it was safe.
Trials produced internal emails from Monsanto and the plaintiffs argued that company scientists were asked to “ghostwrite” scientific papers downplaying the link between lymphoma and glyphosate in addition to trying to change a well-known toxicologist’s opinion that glyphosate could cause a gene mutation associated with cancer. These emails sparked public outrage and a sense of betrayal over the safety of Roundup products.
Public outcry only intensified when environmental groups conducted a study that purportedly found glyphosate in cereals such as Cheerio – a favorite of many children. In a report by Olga Naidenko, Ph.D. and Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., glyphosate was found in 21 oat-based cereal and snack products. The study by the Environmental Working Group found that all but four of the products contained levels of glyphosate higher than what EWG scientists consider protective for children’s health and safety.
The report claims that these products are exposed to glyphosate when Roundup is sprayed on oats to act as a drying agent and induce an earlier harvest while increasing the likelihood that glyphosate ends up in the products.
A Parent’s Concern
Farmer John Barton sprayed Roundup daily for several weeks every year for more than thirty years during his career as a farmer. He hoped that spraying thousands of gallons of Roundup would kill the weeds threatening his cotton crop.
However, in light of the recent concerns regarding Roundup’s safety, he is very concerned about his health and the health of his children: “I just think about the amount of Roundup that I used over the years, and then my sons started working for me when Monsanto claimed it was a safe product. I let my sons put those sprayers on their backs, and I’m worried. Now my biggest concern is as a parent.”
What Should I Do Now?
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma after using Roundup, contact the Minnesota Cancer Attorneys at Goldenberg Law. With over 30 years of experience fighting corporate negligence, we deliver the Gold standard advocacy you deserve.