You have probably read about the verdict in California where a jury awarded the plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson $280 million in damages because he developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma while working as a groundskeeper and using Roundup.
You never know how juries make their decisions, as attorney and farmer, Amanda Zaluckyj explains. But we can be sure, that science had nothing to do with it. Maybe they chose to disregard the science because they sympathized with Mr Johnson’s severe lymphoma. But, as Monsanto pointed out in the trial, Johnson’s lymphoma was diagnosed some 10 years before he began using Roundup.
Maybe they didn’t like Monsanto. The Organic Consumers Association, and US Right To Know have been pushing this anti-biotechnology line for years in order to scare people into using their pricier organic products. Henry Miller has even connected these attacks to the Russian government.
But the science is very clear and has been for years. Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup has about the same toxicity as salt or aspirin. It has been in use since 1974 and is incredible effective and incredibly safe. Here’s one review on toxicity and here’s another on carcinogenicity.
Probably the only actual report of Roundup causing cancer was made by the IARC, a small French research unit, who when they lost their budget, joined the WHO as a small research division. The trouble with that group is that they were not scientifically driven, but politically driven, considering only a few cherry-picked papers out of the hundreds of papers available on Roundup. And their conclusion was driven by lobbyist Christopher Portier, who formerly worked for the Environmental Defense Fund. Portier is not, however, a toxicologist. So, when the IARC declared that Roundup was “probably carcinogenic” they were not considering scientific data, but driven by politics. I wrote about this in detail here.
Courtrooms are not a good place for science, because juries do not try to understand the scientific method or scientific findings, and instead try to connect with the emotions of the case: poor, sick groundskeeper versus large agricultural company. Who would you predict would prevail?
Fortunately, Monsanto is appealing and we hope will prevail against these preposterous claims. You might also read Cameron English’s excellent analysis of this case here.