Due to increasing concerns about the health and potential environmental harm of Roundup, the most popular weedkiller in the world, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger reported last week that she is planning to try to cease its use by county workers until more is known about its safety. (Mynewsla.com).
Barger discussed a motion she intends to formally introduce next week, which would call for various county departments to cease using glyphosate, which is the major active ingredient in Roundup made by Monsanto. She wants this ban in effect until more is understood about the chemical’s effects on people, animals, and the environment.
She told the media she is asking several county departments to cease the use of Roundup until the public health and environmental experts can decide if it is truly safe for extended use in LA County. Barger also said that she wants other methods to be explored for controlling vegetation in the county.
If the motion is passed by the board, it would then direct the county’s Department of Public Works to perform a study and provide a report to the council within one month. The study would be conducted with detailed input from the departments of parks and recreation, public health, beaches and harbors, and the Agricultural Commission. (Pasadenanow.com)
Roundup was developed in the 1970s by Monsanto, which is now owned by Bayer AG and is thought to be the most popular herbicide around the world.
The commissioner cited an increasing body of scientific evidence about the safety of the herbicide, and the possibility of negative effects on people. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer stated that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen in 2015. However, that finding was strongly disputed by Monsanto and other stakeholders; one of whom stated that the researchers did not include important information.
It should be noted that the European Food Safety Agency does not agree with the assessment of the WHO. but a court ruling recently does require the safety agency to fully disclose details of studies that support such findings.
As for the EPA’s part, the agency states the weedkiller has minimal toxicity for humans. It concluded in 2017 that it is unlikely to cause cancers in humans, such as non-Hodgkins lymphoma. But the state of California disagrees with this assessment and tried unsuccessfully last year to coerce the company to put a warning on the weedkiller.
Jury in Deliberation in California About Weedkiller Causing Man’s Cancer
Many county authorities in California are leery of the toxicity of Roundup, as recent court cases have raised the possibility that the weedkiller could cause various types of cancer, including non-Hodgkins lymphoma. (NBCbayarea.com).
Just this week, a federal jury in San Francisco started deliberations on whether Monsanto’s Roundup caused the cancer of a man living in Sonoma County.
Edward Hardeman, 70, claimed in court that his blood cancer was due to using Roundup for 26 years on his 56-acre property he owns in Forestville, California. He started to use Roundup in the 1980s to manage the poison oak and weeds on his ranch. He said that he sprayed high volumes of the weedkiller for years every week. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in February 2015 and filed suit a year later.
But complicating his case is the fact that he has a hepatitis C history, which is a possible risk factor to develop lymphoma. Bayer has stated in its court findings that most non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancers are idiopathic in nature, meaning there is no known cause.
The six-member jury has been instructed by the judge on the case to determine if Roundup was a ‘substantial factor’ in causing his cancer. If the jury rules for the plaintiff, the next phase of the trial will decide the liability of the company and possible damages.
Monsanto continues to argue there is no direct proof of a link between Roundup, glyphosate and Hardeman’s lymphoma. The company argues the cancer could be due to a genetic mutation caused by the man’s hepatitis C.
This huge California case is one of more than 760 personal injury and product liability lawsuits that Monsanto faces in federal courts around the country that have been transferred to federal district court in San Francisco for better judicial efficiency.
The judge, US District Judge Vince Chhabria, has designated this lawsuit and two others as the first three to be tried. This is seen as a way to show both sides of the potential outcomes as possible preludes to future legal settlements. The lawsuit involving Hardemann is the first to actually be tried.
Hundreds of other cases against the chemical giant company are still pending in state courts this year. In 2018, a trial in San Francisco Superior Court resulted in a $289 million jury verdict. This was later reduced by the judge to $78 million for the ex-groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson. He claimed that he got his cancer from spraying athletic fields with Roundup for several years.
Interestingly, under a January 2019 ruling by Chhabria, the jurors on the current Hardemann case did not initially hear all of the evidence from the Johnson trial. Chhabria stated that evidence that was produced by the plaintiffs early in the case a distraction from the science of the case. He also said that type of evidence only should be seen by a jury in the second trial phase that would only occur in they decided that Roundup did cause the man’s cancer. (Reuters.com)
- LA County to Consider Ban on Popular Weedkiller. (2019). Retrieved from https://mynewsla.com/life/2019/03/12/l-a-county-to-consider-ban-on-popular-weed-killer/
- Bayer Faces Second Trial Over Alleged Roundup Cancer Risk. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/bayer-glyphosate-lawsuit/bayer-faces-second-trial-over-alleged-roundup-cancer-risk-idUSL1N20H0JS
- Jury Begins Deliberating on Whether Monsanto Caused Sonoma Man’s Cancer. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Jury-Begins-Deliberating-on-Whether-Monsantos-Caused-a-Sonoma-co-Mans-Cancer-507061261.html
- Supervisor Barger Calls for Moratorium on County Use of Roundup Herbicide. (2019). Retrieved from http://www.pasadenanow.com/main/supervisor-barger-calls-for-moratorium-on-county-use-of-roundup-herbicide/#.XIlRDLh7k2w