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Glyphosate Trial Goes Against Monsanto


The second stage of the trial in which Edwin Hardeman sued the Monsanto Company has concluded with the six-person jury awarding $80 million in damages. Hardeman successfully convinced the jury in the first phase of the trial that exposure to glyphosate contained in RoundUp™ applied in his garden over a number of decades was responsible for a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

The outcome of the two-phase trial is a serious setback for Bayer AG the acquirer of Monsanto in 2017. The parent company indirectly now faces approximately 1,000 lawsuits claiming diagnoses of cancer. Bayer stated "We stand behind these products and will vigorously defend them". The company will appeal the March 27th verdict, but will face five additional trials in California alleging similar health outcomes through the remainder of 2019.

The $80 million awarded to Hardeman included $75 million as punitive damages, considerably less than the $290 million awarded to Dewayne Johnson in a previous case, although this jury award was reduced to $79 million, and is also under appeal.

Monsanto submitted extensive scientific evidence confirming the safety of glyphosate. This data was previously adequate to convince regulatory authorities to issue licenses and approvals in many nations including the U.S. Unfortunately, scientific and epidemiologic evidence was rejected by the jury in favor of the submissions by the Plaintiff's legal team. An important consideration was the 2015 monograph released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a subsidiary of the World Health Organization that designated glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans". This determination was subsequently withdrawn following scientific submissions made by epidemiologists and toxicologists affiliated to universities and international organizations maintaining that glyphosate was in fact not carcinogenic. This reality appears to have escaped the jury and most journalists. It is also a matter of record that a prominent U.S. scientist directly involved in drafting the IARC monograph also served as a plaintiff's expert in cases filed against Monsanto and Bayer. This represented a clear conflict of interest.

Demonstrating that glyphosate is carcinogenic is a windfall for tort lawyers but has some serious implications for row-crop farmers and also for the intensive livestock industry. Resistance to glyphosate induced in GM corn and soybeans allows farmers to use the compound as an effective herbicide reducing production costs and boosting yield. The campaign to demonize glyphosate is effectively directed at GM technology. The lawsuits alleging an association between exposure to glyphosate and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma are essentially a sideshow perpetrated by the legal profession.