Dying man testifies against Monsanto, first trial on Roundup’s link to cancer
A 46-year-old school groundskeeper is now at the forefront of the fight against Monsanto, despite the fact that he may not have much longer to live. Monday, June 25th marks the historic date that the terminally ill man will be in the first trial that links Monsanto’s weedkiller to cancer.
DeWayne Johnson is doing everything he can to survive but the odds are not in his favor. He has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and 80% of his body is covered in cancerous legions.
Still, as a husband and a father in California, he is trying to stay alive long enough to at least see Monsanto be forced to reckon with the fact that one of the world’s most evil corporations is responsible for his condition.
Under California law, Johnson has the right to an expedited trial since he is a dying patient.
Johnson will be the first person to actually take Monsanto to trial over allegations that its herbicide Roundup causes cancer and that the corporation spent decades attempting to hide the fact that it is responsible for the disease.
The Guardian reported in May,
According to the court record, Johnson had a job as a groundskeeper for the Benicia unified school district where he applied numerous treatments of Monsanto’s herbicides to school properties from 2012 until at least late 2015. He was healthy and active before he got the cancer diagnosis in August 2014. In a January deposition, Johnson’s treating physician testified that more than 80% of his body was covered by lesions, and that he probably had but a few months to live. Johnson has improved since starting a new drug treatment in November but remains too weak sometimes to even speak or get out of bed, his attorneys and doctors state in court filings.
But while Monsanto insists its chemical is safe enough to drink, Johnson’s case has received a green light from Judge Curtis Karnow who issued an order allowing jurors to consider both the scientific evidence as to what may have caused Johnson’s cancer and whether or not Monsanto suppressed that evidence. Karnow ruled that the trial will move ahead and that the jury would be allowed to consider punitive damages.
“The internal correspondence noted by Johnson could support a jury finding that Monsanto has long been aware of the risk that its glyphosate-based herbicides are carcinogenic … but has continuously sought to influence the scientific literature to prevent its internal concerns from reaching the public sphere and to bolster its defenses in products liability actions,” Karnow wrote. “Thus there are triable issues of material fact.”
But Johnson is not the only person who is filing suit against Monsanto. Around 4,000 people have sued the company alleging that their exposure to Roundup caused them or their family members to develop cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL). Yet another case against Monsanto is scheduled to take place in October in St. Louis, MO, Monsanto’s hometown.
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The lawsuits are challenging Monsanto’s claims that the herbicide is proven safe and argue that the giant corporation has intentionally concealed the dangers and the cancer links from both regulators and the general public. Given the corruption that exists within the EPA, however, the level to which Monsanto has had to hide Roundup’s cancer links is debatable.
As The Guardian wrote,
The litigants cite an assortment of research studies indicating that the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicides, a chemical called glyphosate, can lead to NHL and other ailments. They also cite research showing glyphosate formulations in its commercial-end products are more toxic than glyphosate alone. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015.
Monsanto “championed falsified data and attacked legitimate studies” that revealed dangers of its herbicides, and led a “prolonged campaign of misinformation” to convince government agencies, farmers and consumers that Roundup was safe, according to Johnson’s lawsuit.
“We look forward to exposing how Monsanto hid the risk of cancer and polluted the science,” said Michael Miller, Johnson’s attorney. “Monsanto does not want the truth about Roundup and cancer to become public.”
Obviously, Monsanto denies the links between its product and cancer as well as any attempt to intentionally hide those alleged links. Monsanto’s biggest defense seems to be findings by the EPA and other regulatory agencies (so corrupted by ties to the corporate giant they should be known as Monsanto pension plans). For instance, the EPA’s “risk assessment” on glyphosate concludes that the chemical is not carcinogenic. Monsanto also plans to argue that there were other factors causing Johnson’s cancer and to challenge the “validity” of the science Johnson’s lawyers are relying on.
Glyphosate and its commercially available variants have a rather extensive documentation of harm not just through lymphoma and cancer but also from a myriad of other negative health effects such as liver damage (see here also), gut microbiome damage, and damage to the reproductive system.