Agriculture contributes nearly $3 billion per year to the economy of Hawaii and provides thousands of jobs all across the state. The tropical climate of Hawaii’s islands is an ideal environment for many crops, from sugarcane to macadamia nuts.
The importance of farming to the state is a key reason why many across Hawaii are becoming increasingly concerned about their possible exposure to a controversial herbicide ingredient, glyphosate.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, which is the most widely used pesticide in farming throughout the world and the United States, with upwards of 300 million pounds of the chemical being sprayed on crops across the country each year.
Hawaii residents may already be better educated than those from the mainland on potential risks of glyphosate. That’s because lawmakers in Hawaii have taken a stronger stance than others across the nation in regulating the use of pesticides and herbicides. Already, legislators passed a measure to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, and several bills have been introduced to limit the use of glyphosate.
For residents of Hawaii who have been exposed to glyphosate, whether through jobs in agriculture, because they used Roundup to control weeds around their homes or if they used the chemical for their landscaping business, it’s important to understand your rights and the background of this issue. Two verdicts already have been issued that link Roundup to the development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in separate cases.
Glyphosate Use in Hawaii
Glyphosate is very widely used in farming in every state, and usage nationally has risen by about 1,900 percent since 1992, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey. That database estimates only the agricultural usage of glyphosate among the lower 48 states, so the federal data does not include estimates for how much glyphosate farmers in Hawaii use to kill weeds in their crops.
But at least one statewide project seeks to quantify the use of glyphosate and Roundup for farming as well as all other uses. A state investigation conducted by the departments of health and agriculture collected stream bed sediment at seven sites across Hawaii; glyphosate was detected in all seven samples. The study also tested 24 surface-water samples for a total of 136 herbicides and pesticides, including glyphosate, and all samples contained at least one of the listed chemicals.
The concentration of glyphosate detected by the study varied widely, with the highest concentrations found at the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge downstream from taro fields and along Kapehu Stream on the island of Hawaii in a location downstream from feed corn fields.
Activists in Hawaii have worked to limit the use of glyphosate and ensure the product, if it’s used at all, is applied according to the specifications on the label, which sets variable time limits for people and animals to step on the treated areas. Because glyphosate was being used very widely to kill weeds along highways and other major roads, it would be virtually impossible to keep people off these roads long enough for the product to dry.
The state highway department determined it would no longer use Roundup to control vegetation along roads and highways throughout the state, a major victory for activists and everyday residents of Hawaii.
Hawaii Residents at Risk
Using Roundup to spray weeds and other vegetation generally involves carrying or strapping to your back a large tank of the chemical and spraying it onto plants via a plastic nozzle. It’s not uncommon for the liquid to drip either out of the bottle itself or out of the nozzle and for the substance to get on clothes and even skin. In both of the verdicts that have been announced so far, the plaintiffs both were exposed to Roundup in a similar way — the substance got onto their skin.
In addition to skin exposure, it’s possible to accidentally inhale or even ingest the substance when spraying it, particularly if it’s being applied on a windy day.
But the reality is that it’s not necessary to have personally used Roundup to kill weeds. We know from the state’s study that glyphosate was found in stream sediment and surface water, and multiple rounds of independent tests have revealed glyphosate traces in the national food supply, including in breakfast cereals, orange juice, oats and even beer and wine.
Roundup Cancer Lawsuits in Hawaii
Roundup is an ongoing target of legislation in our state that seeks to curb its use, including a bill that would ban glyphosate throughout Hawaii, whether for commercial or noncommercial use. That bill did not pass in the 2018 legislative session, but a bill is advancing in 2019 that would require the state’s education department to report how much glyphosate is used to control overgrowth on school grounds, playgrounds and sports fields and to detail plans for future use of Roundup for those purposes.
Hawaii is one of the few states in the country that are pursuing serious limitations on the use of glyphosate. The state of California officially lists glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, and a few other states and cities across the country have restricted government use of the herbicide.
Still, glyphosate is in wide usage nationally and here in Hawaii, and the herbicide is a major lawsuit target as a result. Nearly 12,000 roundup cancer lawsuits have been filed, according to Bayer AG, the German-based pharma giant that completed a purchase of Monsanto in 2018. Already two verdicts have gone against Monsanto and Bayer, and dozens of cases are expected to get underway this year in California, Missouri and Delaware, among other locations.
For residents of Hawaii who are fearful for their health because of their longtime use of or exposure to Roundup, it’s important to understand how state law could limit your ability to pursue legal action. Hawaii lawmakers have set a two-year time limit in product liability cases, meaning that you could have as little as 24 months from the date you are diagnosed with a Roundup-related illness, including any type of cancer, to have your day in court.
Additionally, the cases that are proceeding so far have not been condensed into a single class action, which could be positive for consumers in that high-sum jury verdicts could be in the offing, but it also means that the only way to know if your case is strong is to consult with a qualified local attorney who can assess your situation.
Roundup and Its Effect on Human Health
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer helped kick off the avalanche of problems for Roundup and Monsanto when it ruled in 2015 that glyphosate most likely causes cancer in humans. California’s government also officially lists the herbicide as a likely carcinogen, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not, which is one reason why the chemical’s use is able to continue.
In addition to the carcinogenic questions surrounding glyphosate, a growing body of medical and scientific evidence is linking Roundup and glyphosate to a host of other serious health problems, including multiple types of cancer. Some of those problems are:
- Breast cancer
- Childhood brain cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Celiac disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Autism spectrum disorder
How to File a Hawaii Roundup Lawsuit
For residents of Hawaii who have used or regularly been exposed to Roundup and/or its active ingredient, glyphosate and have become seriously ill or been diagnosed with a major health problem, your time to pursue justice could be limited.
Only an attorney who is educated in the issues surrounding Roundup and the use of it in Hawaii are qualified to evaluate your possible case against Monsanto and Bayer. Remember that state laws set a time limit in many of these cases and that there is no single class action in this case as of yet.
Hawaii Roundup Cancer Lawsuit Lawyers & Attorneys
Cronin, Fried, Sekiya, Kekina & Fairbanks
- Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
- Website: https://www.croninfried.com/Personal-Injury/Product-Liability.shtml
- Phone number: 808-600-3514
Law Office of Dennis W. Potts
- Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
- Website: https://www.denniswpottslaw.com/
- Phone number: 808-537-4575
- U.S. Geological Survey, Estimated Annual Agricultural Pesticide Use. (2017.) Retrieved from https://water.usgs.gov/nawqa/pnsp/usage/maps/county-level/StateLevel/LowEstimate_AgPestUsebyCropGroup92to16.txt
- Reuters, U.S. trial tests claims Roundup weed killer caused cancer. (2019.) Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bayer-glyphosate-lawsuit/us-trial-tests-claims-roundup-weed-killer-caused-cancer-idUSKCN1QD0I8
- The Associated Press, Jury: Roundup weed killer is major factor in man’s cancer. (2019.) Retrieved from https://apnews.com/1f0ecf279c1b4a0c941506e4c255bbd8
- State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture, How Important Is Agriculture Today? (2013.) Retrieved from http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/blog/ag-resources/how-important-is-agriculture-today/
- Time.com, How Activists Are Restricting Use of a Major Pesticide. (2016.) Retrieved from http://time.com/4295272/glyphosate-pesticide-roundup-hawaii-activists/
- HawaiiNewsNow, Bills to ban certain pesticides move forward in legislature. (2018.) Retrieved from http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/37466015/bills-to-ban-certain-pesticides-move-forward-in-legislature/
- National Resources Defense Council, Hawaii Bans Use of Toxic Pesticide Chlorpyrifos. (2018.) Retrieved from https://www.nrdc.org/experts/nrdc/hawaii-bans-use-toxic-pesticide-chlorpyrifos
- State of Hawaii Department of Health, 2013-14 Statewide Pesticide Sampling Pilot Project, Water Quality Findings. (2014.) Retrieved from https://health.hawaii.gov/sdwb/files/2018/09/02-04-2018-Kauai-Water-Quality-Conference-Pesticide-Presentation-8-2-18.pdf
- FindLaw.com, Time Limits for Filing Product Liability Cases: State-by-State. (Undated.) Retrieved from https://injury.findlaw.com/product-liability/time-limits-for-filing-product-liability-cases-state-by-state.html