Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto claiming Roundup, the agribusiness giant’s popular weedkiller, is causing cancer.
Last Monday, in the most recent of three similar verdicts, a California jury ruled in favor of couple Alva and Alberta Pilliod. The couple claimed that long-term exposure to Roundup caused their diagnoses of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the bones and brain, respectively.
The jury awarded the couple $2.055 billion in damages — the biggest verdict against Monsanto so far.
This particular verdict is the eighth largest personal injury award in U.S. history. It includes $55 million in compensatory damages to the 70-year-old couple who had been using Roundup since the 1970s and $2 billion in punitive damages against Monsanto.
Brent Wisner, one of the Pilliod’s attorneys, told CNN the verdict “is as clear of a statement as you can get that [Monsanto needs] to change what they’re doing.”
Cases like this started to surface after a 2015 report from the World Health Organization suggested glyphosate, Roundup’s main ingredient, might cause cancer. Now, in the past year alone, thousands of court cases have emerged at both the state and federal level as cancer patients take a stand against Monsanto. While most cases are pending, three have ruled in favor of cancer patients.
Despite the multitude of court cases and WHO's claim that the herbicide poses a public health risk, earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency reaffirmed its 2017 assessment that glyphosate does not cause cancer.
Bayer, Monsanto’s parent company, says it will appeal the verdict and continues to stand by the EPA’s non-carcinogenic assessment. However, according to CNN, this most recent case offered a “mountain of evidence showing Monsanto’s manipulation of science, the media and regulatory agencies to forward their own agenda” that included emails and text messages between Monsanto and EPA officials.
This raises serious concerns about the relationship between Monsanto and the EPA, and makes it clear that consumer safety is not their priority.