Earlier this month, attorneys for biopharma giant Monsanto debated with scientific experts alleging its weed killer product, Roundup, causes cancer.
In court filings, Monsanto requested a judge toss out the expert testimony filed on behalf of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Regardless of the ongoing scientific debate, thousands of individuals suffering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and other cancers have filed lawsuits against Monsanto.
The Monsanto Lawsuit Debate
Roundup, the world’s most widely-used herbicide, has been at the center of an on-going debate focused on its main ingredient, glyphosate, and reports that it may cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency For Research on Cancer (IARC) stated that the herbicide was “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
As demonstrated in the Monsanto lawsuit, the company has responded to the claims against Roundup, saying that more than 800 studies, some conducted internationally, vouch for glyphosate’s safety.
In its request to have the judge dismiss the expert testimony, the Monsanto lawyers point to the so-called Daubert standard used in litigation to determine the credibility of scientific evidence.
“Since plaintiffs’ experts’ opinions ‘are no more than educated guesses dressed up in evening clothes,’ they fail to satisfy Daubert,” the Monsanto lawyers wrote.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers have not yet responded to the Monsanto allegations.
Monsanto's Legal Troubles in Europe
The court fight comes as Monsanto pursues a $56 billion merger with the German chemicals multinational, Bayer AG. European antitrust regulators in August announced that they had opened an in-depth investigation into the deal.
Margrethe Vestager, the commissioner in charge of European competition policy, said in a letter to the public that the commission received more than 50,000 emails, more than 5,000 letters and postcards as well as an undetermined but significant number of Tweets expressing concern about the proposed acquisition.
Not long after an in-depth investigation began, the European Parliament made Monsanto the first company barred from lobbying the chamber after its executives refused to take part in a hearing over glyphosate. A Monsanto executive told The New York Times that the hearing was not the proper forum to discuss regulation and policy matters.
Meanwhile, in the United States, an estimated 700 or so Roundup cancer claims have been filed in courts and over 3,000 individuals have pursued litigation against Monsanto.
A hearing in the Monsanto lawsuit is expected to take place in San Francisco on December 11, 2017 in the United States District Court, Northern California District.