California jury to hear Roundup case on pesticide cancer link

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson listens as attorney Brent Wisner speaks about his condition during the Monsanto trial in San Francisco California on July 09 2018. — AFP pic

Hundreds of lawsuits against Monsanto Co by cancer survivors or families of those who died can proceed to trial, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday, finding there was sufficient evidence for a jury to hear the cases that blame the company's glyphosate-containing weed-killer for the disease.

Lawsuits by more than 400 farmers, landscapers and consumers who claim Roundup caused them to develop non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a type of blood cell cancer, have been combined before Chhabria.

In response to the ruling, Monsanto Vice President Scott Partridge said, "More than 800 scientific studies and reviews, the U.S. EPA, the National Institutes of Health and regulatory agencies around the world have concluded glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer".

However, Monsanto said there's no evidence of a connection between their product and cancer.

A federal judge in Sacramento in February blocked California from requiring that Roundup carry a label stating that it is known to cause cancer, saying the warning is misleading because nearly all regulators have concluded that there is no evidence glyphosate is carcinogenic.

The court said the International Agency for Research on Cancer's conclusion in 2015 that glyphosate probably causes cancer in humans did not provide enough evidence for the case to get to the next phase.

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While Chhabria's ruling is not binding on them, state court judges have been closely following the federal litigation and expert hearings.

Johnson, the man involved in the first case to go to trial, used Monsanto Roundup during his job as a pest control manager at a school in the San Francisco Bay Area.

But the judge also said some of the expert opinions presented so far in the case are "shaky".

St. Louis-based Monsanto developed glyphosate in the 1970s, and the weed killer is now sold in more than 160 countries.

Roundup, made by USA giant Monsanto, is sprayed on gardens and parks and is used by farmers producing food crops. Monsanto has attacked the worldwide research agency's opinion as an outlier.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last September concluded glyphosate is likely not carcinogenic to humans. A draft report by the agency past year concluded the herbicide is not likely to be carcinogenic to people.

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