Monsanto Faces Litigation over Roundup Herbicide Cancer Risks

Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

Roundup (Glyphosate) Controversy and Cancer Link

Monsanto continues to face litigation alleging that its Roundup herbicide increases the risk of cancer. Plaintiffs in the litigation allege that the company failed to warn consumers despite being aware of the risks. Roundup is the most popular product that farmers and gardeners use to control weed growth. The main active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, which was declared “probably carcinogenic” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, in March 2015.

The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are closely monitoring events in the Monsanto Roundup herbicide litigation. The firm, which has decades of experience representing clients in lawsuits over environmental health risks, continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a Roundup lawsuit.

In its report, the IARC also said there was “strong” evidence of glyphosate’s genotoxicity. This means it can damage the genetic material of cells, increasing the risk of cancerous growth. The findings were based on 1,000 studies.

Monsanto has fought the IARC report, calling the findings “erroneous”. The company insists that glyphosate is safe for humans and the environment when used according to the label instructions. Monsanto even hired a consulting firm to go over the IARC report in detail.

Studies have suggested a possible link between glyphosate and cancer for years. Regulators, in part, have not implemented widespread action on the chemical because it is difficult to determine whether one substance is responsible for causing cancer. The disease takes years to develop because damage occurs on the cellular level. By the time the patient is diagnosed with cancer, it is hard to determine whether it had an exact cause.

In April 2013, a study published in the journal Entropy found that glyphosate residues remain on produce after the harvest and exacerbates the toxic effects of other chemicals. The authors wrote that, “Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.”

According to the study, glyphosate residues can block the action of a specific protein that helps shield the body from hazardous substances. These residues are found in common food products, including wheat, soy, maize, and sugar. “Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.”

In 2014, a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health linked glyphosate to B-cell lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The study was a meta-analysis, where researchers analyzed nearly 30 years of data on non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in agricultural workers exposed to 80 different chemicals.

There have been other studies with similar findings, some emerging much earlier. In the early 1990s, for instance, a study published in the journal Cancer Research found that organophosphates (glyphosate falls into this category) contributed to a substantial increase in cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Specifically, the authors said rates of the disease had risen 50 percent over the previous 15 years.

In addition to cancer, there are concerns about whether glyphosate can lead to other serious health problems. A recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports established a causative link between Roundup and a liver disease known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in rats. The animals were given a very low dose of glyphosate over the course of two years.

“The findings of our study are very worrying as they demonstrate for the first time a causative link between an environmentally relevant level of Roundup consumption over the long-term and a serious disease,” said lead researcher Dr. Michael Antoniou on Kings College in London, according to Daily Mail UK. “Our results also suggest that regulators should reconsider the safety evaluation of glyphosate-based herbicides.”

Court Sides with California in Glyphosate Cancer Labeling Case

Parker Waichman notes that, following the IARC announcement, the state of California sought to label glyphosate as a carcinogen under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, also known as Proposition 65 (Prop 65).

Monsanto has fought back against the warning, and filed a lawsuit against the State of California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). The company alleged that the Prop 65 listing invoked several constitutional violations.

However, the California Superior Court disagreed and found that Monsanto insufficiently alleged each of its claims, among other things. “there is no support for Monsanto’s conclusion that the OEHHA has unconstitutionally delegated its rulemaking authority to the IARC,” the court ruled. “the voters and the legislature have established the basic legislative scheme and made the fundamental policy decision with regard to listing possible carcinogens under Proposition 65, and then allowed the IARC to make the highly technical fact-finding decisions with regard to which specific chemicals would be added to the list.”

Roundup Cancer Lawsuits Consolidated into MDL

Roundup cancer lawsuits have been consolidated into a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria. MDLs are established by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). They are a type of mass tort used to centralize similar lawsuits to one court before one judge.

Transferring lawsuits into an MDL makes the legal process more efficient because it streamlines pretrial proceedings. For example, the discovery phase only needs to take place once and applies to all cases. Lawsuits in an MDL contain a set of common allegations against the defendant. However, the severity of injuries may vary between plaintiffs.

One plaintiff is a California man who used Roundup regularly since the 1980s to control the growth of poison oak on his property in Sonoma, California. He developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, allegedly due to Roundup exposure. The lawsuit filed on his behalf alleges that Monsanto was aware of the risks since the 1970’s but failed to warn consumers.

Filing a Monsanto Roundup Herbicide Lawsuit

Parker Waichman has spent years representing clients in lawsuits over alleged environmental health risks. If you or someone you know is interested in filing a Monsanto Roundup Herbicide lawsuit, speak with one of our environmental attorneys today. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).