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Roundup Weedkiller and Cancer Claims: Trials Set to Continue in 2020

Roundup Weedkiller and Cancer Claims: Trials Set to Continue in 2020
Mar 25, 2020 gnuworld
roundup weedkiller

German multinational pharmaceutical company Bayer and its subsidiary, Monsanto, are facing a slew of personal injury claims, alleging a link between Roundup weedkiller and cancer.

More than 45,000 plaintiffs in the United States are claiming that the controversial glyphosate-based pesticide is the direct cause of their cancers.

Bayer has already lost three court cases and paid out more than US$100 million in damages.

Glyphosate “probably carcinogenic to humans”

The key driver behind the litigation is the classification of glyphosate by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a Group 2A agent that is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

Also at the heart of the lawsuits is the fact that the manufacturer failed to warn consumers of the inherent risks posed by protracted exposure to the pesticide.

Personal injury payouts for cancer due to Roundup

To date, three different juries in the United States have ruled in favour of the respective plaintiffs and awarded multi-million-dollar punitive damages.

One of the more distressing cases involved a couple in their seventies, Alva and Alberta Pilliod.

Alva was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) bone cancer in 2011. Four years later, Alberta was found to have NHL brain cancer. The couple had used Roundup regularly for several decades.

In the Pilliods’ case, the court ordered Monsanto to pay US$55 million in compensatory damages and US$2 billion in punitive damages.

Another case involved former school groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson. He was awarded US$289 million in damages after a jury found in his favour. Johnson, who has terminal NHL cancer, routinely used Roundup in the course of his work.

Bayer has subsequently appealed the rulings and damages were reduced to US$87 million and US$78 million in the Pilliod and Johnson cases, respectively.

Widespread use of Roundup in South Africa

South Africa is one of the few countries that continues to allow unregulated use of Roundup in the agricultural sector.

Even more alarming is the fact that farmers are spraying the toxic herbicide directly onto genetically modified food crops, like maize and soya.

Once introduced into the crops, glyphosate cannot be removed through washing, processing or cooking. It forms a residue on food and accumulates in the body over time.

Glyphosate leads to a host of diseases

Studies conducted in countries including Canada and Argentina have concluded that the extensive use of glyphosate leads to birth defects, kidney diseases and childhood cancers.

France, Portugal and the Punjab have banned the use of glyphosate. This was a response to findings linking the pesticide to a host of diseases, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s, autism, cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

Lobby for blanket ban in SA

Why are South Africans so complacent about the health risks associated with Roundup?

Individuals and organisations like the African Centre of Biosafety are actively lobbying government to impose a blanket ban on the use of glyphosate.

However, legislators have pointed to the fact that both the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Food Safety Authority have objected to the IARC’s findings.

Moreover, they support the use of glyphosate-based herbicides in crop management – a “reprieve” that Bayer has repeatedly tried to use in its defence.

Recent news about the Roundup claims

What’s next in the battle between Bayer, Monsanto and an estimated 50,000 plaintiffs diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?

In the effort to stem the tide of litigation and mitigate future damages, Bayer has agreed to enter a process of mediation.

The pharmaceutical giant and its subsidiary are hoping to reach an agreement that enables them to settle all outstanding claims and effectively close the matter.

Should the mediation process fail, trials are scheduled to continue throughout 2020.

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