With upwards of $5 billion in annual impact across the state, agriculture is a huge and vital industry in West Virginia. While the state has a national reputation as coal country, the contributions of farming are undeniable.
Given the crucial nature of agriculture and food production to the financial and lifestyle of people all across the state of West Virginia, it should come as no surprise that increasing numbers of people across our state are expressing their concerns over their possible exposure to a controversial chemical that’s very commonly used in West Virginia agriculture.
Glyphosate, frequently referred to by the brand name Roundup, is the most popular herbicide in American agriculture, and thousands of pounds of the chemical are used in West Virginia every year. Use of the herbicide has increased here and around the country despite being the focus of thousands of roundup lawsuits that claim it causes cancer and a growing body of research that seems to support that claim.
For West Virginians who used or were exposed to Roundup and/or glyphosate, it’s helpful to understand the background of this issue and the science behind the claims that Roundup is far from safe for humans to use.
Glyphosate Use in West Virginia
West Virginia’s agricultural community used about 50,000 pounds of glyphosate to kill weeds on their crops in 2016 alone, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey, which estimates the use of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides for farming in the lower 48 states. Though our state’s use of glyphosate has dropped since reaching a peak in 2014, a wider look at the data reveals a disturbing 269 percent increase in glyphosate use since 1992.
On the national level, glyphosate is used to kill weeds and increase yields in a wide variety of agricultural commodities, from grapes to hay, though a pair of crops (corn and soybeans) control the lion’s share of national use. This pattern largely tracks with how West Virginia farmers used glyphosate in 2016:
- Corn: 49%
- Soybeans: 31%
- Wheat: 5%
- Fruits & veggies: 1%
- Orchards & grapes: 2%
- Alfalfa: 5%
- Pasture & hay: 6%
- All other crops: 1%
West Virginia ranks outside the top 10 in the nation in for production of all major crops, but the state still produces large amounts of crops that are very commonly treated with glyphosate, including soybeans (30th in the nation), silage corn (37th) and grain corn (38th).
While it’s interesting to examine the USGS data on how much glyphosate has been used in West Virginia for farming, the fact remains that however much was used is an unknown portion of the overall glyphosate used in our state. That’s because in addition to farmers relying on it for their crops, Roundup is incredibly popular among homeowners, municipalities, professional landscapers and government agencies.
Featured Glyphosate Graph
The following graph shows the amount of glyphosate applied countrywide. The state of West Virginia clearly is impacted by its agricultural application.
West Virginia Residents at Risk
Applying Roundup to weeds often involves strapping a tank of the chemical to your back and using a spray nozzle to coat the weeds or other plants you wish to kill. In this process, it’s not uncommon for the liquid to drip onto your skin, and depending on the weather, it could even blow back into your face or mouth. So clearly, any individuals who have personally used Roundup or glyphosate to control weeds will have an overall higher risk level of developing a serious health condition related to Roundup.
But one need not have ever seen a container of Roundup to have been exposed to it. That’s because, partially due to its ubiquity in farming operations, glyphosate residue has been detected in dozens of food products that can be purchased at your local shop, from breakfast cereal to beer and wine.
Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found glyphosate residue in about half the samples the agency tested most recently.
Roundup Cancer Lawsuits in West Virginia
Two separate juries in California have already come to the conclusion that Roundup can cause cancer. In the first of these cases, which was decided in the fall of 2018, a former school groundskeeper claimed that years of exposure to Roundup, including being accidentally doused in the chemical, gave him terminal non-Hodgkin lymphoma. That jury agreed and awarded the man an eye-popping $289 million decision, though that amount was later reduced by a judge. The verdict and the award amount are under appeal.
The second California case, which is still ongoing, involved a property owner who used Roundup for decades and says the chemical would frequently drip onto his skin when he was using it to kill weeds around various properties he’s owned over the past few decades. In the first phase of the trial, which was to decide whether Roundup gave the man cancer, the jury agreed that at minimum, Roundup significantly contributed to the man’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Those cases are the farthest along of the nearly 12,000 that have been filed so far in which Monsanto and its parent company, Bayer AG, are accused of selling a known carcinogen to the public. West Virginians should be aware of the state’s product liability statute, which limits such cases to just two years. That means that if you have become sick because you used Roundup, you could have as little as 24 months from the date of your diagnosis of a Roundup-caused illness to bring your claim to court.
Roundup and Its Effect on Human Health
Two California juries, the agency that regulates hazardous materials in California and a major international cancer agency all have said that Roundup causes cancer. Despite this, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists the substance as likely non-carcinogenic to humans.
The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has included glyphosate on its list of known carcinogens, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer has done the same. In fact, until 1991, the EPA agreed. The EPA’s decision to reverse its position on glyphosate is a matter of great dispute, with many observers and even some court documents supporting the theory that Monsanto pressured the agency into declaring that glyphosate was not a cancer-causing substance.
In addition to the regulatory and legal declarations of glyphosate as a carcinogen, a growing body of medical and research evidence seems to support that claim as well, with studies linking glyphosate and/or Roundup to very serious health problems, including multiple types of cancer, such as:
- Breast cancer
- Childhood brain cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Celiac disease
- Autism spectrum disorder
How to File a West Virginia Roundup Lawsuit
If you have regularly used or been exposed to Roundup or its active ingredient, glyphosate, whether through your job or private use of the weed killer and have since become seriously ill, including being diagnosed with any form of cancer, your time to have your day in court could be severely restricted by West Virginia law.
So far, the cases that are proceeding against Monsanto have not been declared a class action, which means the only way you can seek justice for you or your loved one is to consult with a qualified local attorney who understands the science surrounding this issue and can evaluate the strength of your case.
West Virginia Roundup Cancer Lawsuit Lawyers & Attorneys
Jacobs Law Office
- Location: Charleston, West Virginia
- Website: http://www.jacobslawwv.com/blog/roundup-lawsuits-in-west-virginia
- Phone number: 304-926-6676
- Location: Weirton, West Virginia
- Website: https://www.chaffinluhana.com/defective-products/roundup-cancer-lawsuit/
- Phone number: 888-480-1123
- 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
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2018 West Virginia Agricultural Statistics. (2018.) Retrieved from https://www.nass.usda.gov/Quick_Stats/Ag_Overview/stateOverview.php?state=WEST%20VIRGINIA
- The State Journal, West Virginia Agriculture is $5 billion industry. (2018.) Retrieved from https://www.wvnews.com/statejournal/news/west-virginia-agriculture-is-billion-industry/article_f93072a9-468b-5dc5-ac85-8fef7326bd04.html
- 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
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Questions and Answers on Glyphosate. (2018.) Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/foodborneillnesscontaminants/pesticides/ucm583713.htm
- Center for Environmental Health, Getting Toxic Chemicals Off The Menu, A School Guide To Safer Cereals. (Undated.) Retrieved from https://www.ceh.org/wp-content/uploads/Glyphosate-in-Schools-Report.pdf
- Moms Across America, Breakfast Favorite Orange Juice Tainted by Glyphosate Herbicide. (2018.) Retrieved from https://www.momsacrossamerica.com/orange_juice_postive_for_glyphosate_again