Roundup Cancer Trial: Monsanto Faces First US Trial Over Roundup Cancer Link

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roundup cancer trial
Images © DeWayne Johnson

Corporate giant, Monsanto, is now facing its first Roundup cancer trial, with lawsuit claims that the weedkiller has gone under the radar in terms of consumer safety. The weedkiller, Roundup, contains the activate ingredient glyphosate, which according to DeWayne Johnson, 46, gave him terminal cancer.

Dewayne Johnson is a father-of-two that worked as a groundskeeper in Benicia, California school district and regularly sprayed hundreds of gallons of Roundup to control the grass and weeds (1). In August of 2014, Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that starts in the white blood cells and grows and spreads at different rates.

For Johnson, his cancer spread quickly, leaving his body with lesions that cover over 80% of his body. At this time, doctors estimate that he will only have a few weeks, or months, left to live.

Roundup Cancer Trial

Johnson sued the U.S. agrochemical corporation, Monsanto (which last month became a subsidiary of Bayer AG), on the terms that they don’t warn their consumers that their products contain cancer-causing chemicals. However, Monsanto is denying that their products cause cancer (which is unbelievable given the studies that prove otherwise).

Johnson hopes to persuade a jury that Monsanto is the cause of his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His attorneys say they have evidence that Monsanto has long known that glyphosate-based herbicides like Roundup are carcinogenic and have been hiding the information from consumers and regulators for decades (2). Johnson’s attorneys claim that Monsanto has been manipulating scientific record and regulatory assessments of glyphosate in order to protect the large sums of money the company receives each year from glyphosate-based herbicide sales.

The Johnson lawsuit claims that Monsanto knew of the dangers and “made conscious decisions not to redesign, warn or inform the unsuspecting public (3).”

If the jury is convinced of the allegations Johnson and his attorneys present, the lawyers say they plan to ask for “hundreds of millions of dollars (4).”

Johnson isn’t the first cancer patient to claim that Roundup causes cancer. More than 450 lawsuits are pending against Monsanto Co. in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, filed by individuals who claim that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and that Monsanto covered up the risks. Thousands of other plaintiffs (approximately 4,000) have made claims against Monsanto in state courts (5) after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in March 2015.

Out of all the cases out there, DeWayne Johnson’s case is one of the first to go to trial – which will mean a make or break deal depending on whether he wins or not. If he wins, the other trials will be pushed forward. If he loses his case, Monsanto will be let off the hook, as well as hundreds of other cases claiming Roundup as the cause of cancer. According to Linda Wells, organizing director for Pesticide Action Network North America, “if Johnson is successful at trial, it will be a huge shakeup for the entire pesticide industry (6).”

Johnson’s lawyer explained that “his case has been expedited, because he currently has only a few months to live (7).”

Monsanto stated in its trial brief that “glyphosate is the most tested herbicide in history,” and that “the entire body of epidemiology literature shows no causal association” between its glyphosate-based herbicides and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (8). 

While Monsanto’s attorneys have argued that Johnson’s claims are weak, Johnson’s attorneys say otherwise. Not long after being accidentally doused with a Monsanto glyphosate-based herbicide called Ranger Pro, he started to experience a skin rash. The rash – which later turned to lesions, and then invaded lymph nodes – worsened after he used the chemical, which was frequently as he treated school ground. Johnson’s attorneys plan to tell jurors that Johnson was so worried that the herbicide was to blame that he called Monsanto’s offices, as well as the poison hotline number listed on the label of Ranger Pro. While his concerns were recorded by Monsanto employees, Monsanto still did not inform him of any risk, even after IARC classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen (9).

While the outcome of Johnson’s Roundup cancer trial is still unknown, one thing is for sure – he doesn’t have a lot of time left. Hopefully justice can be served before it’s too late, and the link between cancer and Roundup can be determined once and for all.

Glyphosate Cancer Links

A growing body of research is finding a link between glyphosate exposure and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, especially with some specific subtypes of cancer.

One study, published in 2008 by Swedish researchers, found that exposure to glyphosate tripled the risk of a subtype of non-Hodgkin called small lymphocytic lymphoma (10). This same study found that a person’s risk of being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma began to rise more than 10 years after exposure.

This is rather unsettling, given the fact that glyphosate use in the United States exploded in the past two decades, with most of the herbicide being sprayed in just the past 10 years. This means that we’re likely only seeing the beginning of herbicide-related health consequences.

Data from a 2003 study showed a suggestive association between glyphosate-based herbicide use and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (11). When the researchers restricted their analyses to nine “potentially carcinogenic” pesticides, they discovered a significant trend. The more of these pesticides a subject used, the more non-Hodgkin lymphoma incidences increased. Subjects who used five or more of the nine pesticides were “twice as likely to be NHL cases than controls.” It turned out that glyphosate was a special ingredient in this “stew” of highly toxic pesticides.

A 2013 study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology found that glyphosate drives breast cancer proliferation. Researchers in Thailand compared glyphosate’s effect on both hormone-dependent and hormone-independent breast cancer cell lines. They found that herbicide stimulates hormone-dependent cancer cell lines in “low and environmentally relevant concentrations (12).” The study specifically found that glyphosate can drive estrogen receptor mediated breast cancer cell proliferation in the parts per trillion concentration range.

And while many more studies have found a link between glyphosate use and cancer risk, the most famous of all would have to be the 2015 study by the IARC. They published the results of a year-long investigation into the link between several different insecticides and herbicides (including glyphosate) and cancer. The group concluded that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans (13).”

While the outcome of Johnson’s Roundup cancer trial is still unknown, one thing is for sure – he doesn’t have a lot of time left. Hopefully justice can be served before it’s too late, and the link between cancer and Roundup can be determined once and for all.

If you’re looking to protect yourself against the dangers of glyphosate, or want to rid your body of the chemical, check out my article on how to rid your body of harmful herbicide and pesticide residues.

Carly Fraser has her BSc (Hons.) Degree in Neuroscience, and is the owner and founder at Live Love Fruit. She currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with a determined life mission to help inspire and motivate individuals to critically think about what they put in their bodies and to find balance through nutrition and lifestyle. She has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals to re-connect with their bodies and learn self-love through proper eating habits and natural living. She loves to do yoga, dance, and immerse herself in nature.

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