A California jury on Friday found Monsanto liable in a lawsuit filed by a school groundskeeper who said the company’s weedkillers, including Roundup, caused his cancer. The company was ordered pay $289 million in damages.
The case of the groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, 46, was the first lawsuit to go to trial alleging that Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkillers cause cancer. Monsanto, a unit of the German conglomerate Bayer following a $62.5 billion acquisition, faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the United States.
Mr. Johnson’s lawyers said he developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup and Ranger Pro, another Monsanto glyphosate herbicide, as part of his job as a pest control manager for a California county school system.
The jury in Superior Court of California in San Francisco deliberated for three days before finding that Monsanto had failed to warn Mr. Johnson and other consumers of the cancer risks posed by its weedkillers.
It awarded $39 million in compensatory and $250 million in punitive damages...As one might imagine, I'm pretty skeptical about the carcinogenicity of glyphosate. Nevertheless, I think that most typical people feel very much otherwise.
A very long time ago, I got into an online argument (always a great use of time) about the toxicity of Roundup. The original post said something like "I cannot believe something as toxic as Roundup is out on the market" - trying to convince the fellow "actually, it's not very toxic" was a tough thing to do. As you might imagine, I had no success.
Here's my theory as to why this is true: if you get out a bottle of Roundup and you spray it on plants, they die in a particularly visible way. Even if people understand the concepts behind amino acid synthesis and enzyme inhibition, they're just never really going to not believe their eyes, and make the conclusion that, if it kills plants, it won't kill people.
All of this to say: I have a feeling that Monsanto/Bayer is going to be in trouble, if these jury trials continue.