Energy & Environment

California jury links weedkiller Roundup to cancer, awards couple $2 billion

A jury ruled against chemical giant Monsanto on Monday, awarding a California couple $2 billion in damages after determining their cancer was caused by the weedkiller Roundup.

The decision in Alameda County Superior Court comes on the heels of a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) statement that said there were no serious public health risks associated with glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.

But a growing number of juries disagree with the EPA’s position. Monday’s ruling marks the third case since August in which a jury found that glyphosate caused cancer. More than 13,000 similar lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto or its parent company Bayer.

{mosads}Many of those suits were spurred by a 2015 World Health Organization analysis that said glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic in humans.”

Alva and Alberta Pilliod, the plaintiffs in the California case, argued they developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma following decades of using the weedkiller.

Bayer relied heavily on EPA’s assessment of glyphosate’s safety in responding to the verdict, arguing the Pilliods had existing risk factors for that type of cancer.

“Bayer is disappointed with the jury’s decision and will appeal the verdict in this case, which conflicts directly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s interim registration review decision released just last month,” the company said in a statement. “The consensus among leading health regulators worldwide that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic.”

Bayer said Monday’s verdict would be unlikely to impact future cases and trials, as each one has its own factual and legal circumstances.

Glyphosate is the most heavily used weedkiller in the country, and its use has been spreading year after year, according to analysis by the Environmental Working Group.

The EPA earlier this month proposed new rules that would “help farmers target pesticide sprays on the intended pest, protect pollinators, and reduce the problem of weeds becoming resistant to glyphosate.”

“EPA has found no risks to public health from the current registered uses of glyphosate,” Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has argued that the herbicide is necessary.

“If we are going to feed 10 billion people by 2050, we are going to need all the tools at our disposal, which includes the use the glyphosate,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement when EPA announced its proposed rules.

But a number of communities have banned the use of glyphosate due to health concerns. More than 50 other cities and counties, including Los Angeles County, have prohibited its use.

Tags Andrew Wheeler Bayer California Glyphosate jury verdict Monsanto Roundup Sonny Perdue United States Environmental Protection Agency
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