In addition to diacetyl cases, lawyers in our firm are actively investigating cases where workers developed Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) as a result of working daily with the herbicide Glyphosate. As you may know, Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup formulation. A broad-spectrum systemic herbicide, glyphosate is used to kill weeds, especially annual broadleaf weeds and grasses that compete with crops. While row crop farmers are known to work with Roundup or other herbicides containing glyphosate as a means to improve their crops, the chemical is also heavily used by professional gardeners, greenhouse workers, and lawn and road maintenance crews. Overall, glyphosate represents more than 83 percent of the chemical pesticides used annually in the United States.
Glyphosate is at the center of Monsanto’s business model. Monsanto chemist John Franz originally discovered the compound as an effective herbicide in 1970 and Monsanto brought it to market in 1974 under the trade name Roundup. Since that time, Monsanto has developed genetically modified crops that are resistant to glyphosate’s herbicide properties, thereby allowing the crops to grow after application while killing weeds. Each year, approximately 250 million pounds of glyphosate are sprayed on crops, commercial nurseries, suburban lawns, parks and golf courses.
Last year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) designated glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans with the most likely linked cancer being NHL. NHL is a broad classification of malignancies that include multiple subtypes with varied characteristics and possibly diverse etiologies. As a result, further studies are currently being conducted to identify which specific subtypes of NHL are linked with exposure to glyphosate. Thus far, the strongest association proven has been with B cell lymphomas. We expect additional studies to shed much-needed light on the full range of NHL-related diseases linked to glyphosate.
Shortly after the link was made, a number of lawsuits were filed against Monsanto, many of them by Plaintiffs that used Roundup on a consistent basis and developed the dreadful cancer. Monsanto quickly moved to dismiss the lawsuits as preempted under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). This past month, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria of the Northern District of California rejected the motions, and found that “[t]he mere fact that the EPA has approved a product label does not prevent a jury from finding that that same label violates FIFRA.” The Plaintiff’s strict liability claims were also spared. Similar motions are pending before a district court in Hawaii.
The recent order was a major victory in the Roundup litigation, and it confirms that Monsanto will not be able to hide behind FIFRA and the secrecy of its internal testing practices. For years, scientists and environmentalists have raised concerns over the safety of glyphosate.
Considering glyphosate and the product Roundup is critical to Monsanto’s business model, the company has aggressively defended the product as safe and has gone so far as to sue governments that have considered adjusting the designated toxicity of the substance. Those efforts have come under fire on numerous occasions.
Two labs conducting glyphosate safety studies for Monsanto were cited for “routine falsification of data” and other offenses. In 1996, New York Attorney General Dennis Vacco ordered Monsanto to pull ads that said Roundup was “safer than table salt” and “practically nontoxic” to animals, birds and fish. To date, Monsanto has refused to pull the ads from any other states besides New York.
In 2007, a French court convicted Monsanto of false advertising when the company advertised glyphosate as biodegradable and leaving the soil clean for use even though it was previously designated as “dangerous for the environment” and “toxic for aquatic organisms” by the European Union. If you need more information, contact Parker Miller or Ryan Kral, who are lawyers in our firm’s Toxic Torts Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Parker.Miller@beasleyallen.com or Ryan.Kryal@beasleyallen.com. They will be glad to talk with you.
Sources: International Agency for Research on Cancer; National Center for Biotechnology Information.
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