By Farmers Forum staff
The backlash was swift after a U.S. jury awarded a California groundskeeper $289 million after the man’s lawyers argued his terminal cancer came from handling Round-Up, a herbicide that contains glyphosate.
Many newspapers slammed the decision, saying it had no basis in science.
The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial that said the lawyers for the plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, played on the heartstrings of the jury, showing photos of lesions that cover up to 80 per cent of Johnson’s body and hearing that he was in excruciating pain even wearing clothes.
The editorial argued that glyphosate does not cause cancer, quoting studies from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“The outlier in the scientific community is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer,” reads the editorial. “Over the years this group has claimed pickled vegetables and ‘very hot beverages’ may cause cancer, and its risk assessments suggest that working as a barber or hairdresser is only slightly less hazardous than being exposed to mustard gas. So it wasn’t shocking in 2015 when the group concluded that glyphosate is also ‘probably carcinogenic.’
“A Reuters investigation later revealed that the (WHO group) had repeatedly ignored and omitted evidence that showed no link between glyphosate and cancer. Christopher Portier, an adviser who worked on the group’s glyphosate determination, was concurrently accepting payments from Lundy & Lundy, a law firm behind several cancer-related class-action lawsuits. Mr. Portier also testified as an expert witness for Mr. Johnson.”
Monsanto, makers of Round-Up, say it plans to appeal the jury’s decision, arguing that the plaintiff’s lawyers used junk science. However, the Insurance Journal quoted law experts who said it would be tough for Monsanto to win as other judges in other cases have allowed the same evidence to be used.