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A jury in a second case, this one in federal court, has reached the conclusion that the weed killer Roundup causes cancer, according to numerous news outlets. The second stage of the trial began yesterday — in this phase, the jury will decide whether Monsanto is liable.However, the decision is significant because there are thousands of other similar cases pending in state and federal courts around the country and this determination of causation could have an impact in the other cases. This is the second time Monsanto’s product has been found to cause cancer — in the first case, decided last year, a jury found Roundup caused cancer in a school groundskeeper and he was ultimately awarded $78 million in damages.
The plaintiff in this case is Edwin Hardeman, 70, who argued that he used the weedkiller on his 56-acre Sonoma County property for decades and that “was a significant factor” in his diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015.
The judge divided the case into phases because he wanted the jury to look specifically at the scientific question of whether glyphosate causes cancer before delving into the many allegations of alleged corporate misconduct by Monsanto.
According to CNN, a 2015 internal email message stated that an EPA official at the time offered to help influence the government’s review of glyphosate, saying “If I can kill this I should get a medal.” However, Monsanto denies it used any undue influence to get favorable treatment from EPA or any other agency of the government. These emails and other evidence of Monsanto’s efforts to influence the science and the government’s assessment of glyphosate were a large factor in the first jury verdict against Monsanto.
Why This Matters: Monsanto and its parent company Bayer may deny it is harmful, but municipalities and school boards all over the country are limiting or banning Roundup based on these decisions, according to the US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund. The City of Miami just took this step and others are expected to follow suit given the raised awareness now that Roundup has been “found guilty” again. What is particularly disturbing here is the effort by Monsanto and its lobbyists to influence the EPA’s science. This is exactly why we need the Scientific Integrity Act recently introduced by Senator Schatz and Representative Tonko. The scientists in the government must follow science, not corporate money, in making their decisions.
To Go Deeper: You can read the string of Monsanto emails in this 2017 story from CNN – it is worth your time. And watch the interview below with the first plaintiff who said the case was never about the money. To see the email documents themselves, click here.
Monsanto has lost another appeal — this one a $25 million damages award to a San Francisco resident who suffered from cancer after spraying Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide on his property for more than 26 years, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Why This Matters: There are thousands of cases pending against Monsanto for Roundup — a common weedkiller used in residential yards all across the U.S.
EPA’s acting chief of enforcement sent a memo to staff last week (that The Hill obtained) calling for them to “[s]trengthen enforcement in overburdened communities by resolving environmental noncompliance through remedies with tangible benefits for the community” with a particular emphasis on “cornerstone environmental statutes.”
Why This Matters: The Biden administration can immediately make progress correcting environmental injustice through fair and strong enforcement of current laws
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