Monsanto is found guilty in Roundup trial

Roundup

Roundup

In a landmark case, a Californian jury found that Monsanto knew its Roundup and RangerPro weedkillers were unsafe and failed to warn consumers.

A jury in San Francisco told agribusiness giant Monsanto it must pay $250m in punitive damages and $39m in compensatory damages after the firm lost a legal case.

"The Johnson v Monsanto verdict is a win for all of humanity and all life on earth", said Zen Honeycutt, founding executive director of non-profit group Moms Across America.

"The jury sent a message to the Monsanto boardroom that they have to change the way they do business", said Kennedy, who championed the case publicly.

Company spokesman Scott Partridge said Friday that Monsanto sympathizes with Johnson and his family.

The lawsuit is the first to accuse the product of causing cancer but is a harbinger of a looming wave of similar legal challenges: observers say a Monsanto defeat likely opens the door to hundreds of other claims against the company, which was recently acquired by Germany's Bayer.

Johnson said he hoped his verdict would bolster the other cases.

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Monsanto, which is facing up to 5,000 similar lawsuits across the country, later said it would appeal against the verdict. It was expedited because court filings indicated that Johnson was dying.

He confirmed the company will appeal the decision "and continue to vigorously defend this product, which has a 40-year history of safe use and continues to be a vital, effective, and safe tool for farmers and others".

When using the product in windy conditions it would come into contact with his face, while on one occasion he was left soaked in the weedkiller when a hose broke. "It's just a matter of time", Wisner told the jury in his opening statement last month.

George Lombardi, an attorney for the company, also argues that Johnson's illness takes years to develop, so it must have started well before he began working at the school district.

After labeling glyphosate a "possible human carcinogen" in 1985, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed its position on the chemical in 1991.

In 2016, a joint report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations said that, while there was "some evidence of a positive association between glyphosate exposure and risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma" in some studies, the only large study of high quality found "no evidence of an association at any exposure level". But the World Health Organization's cancer arm in 2015 classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans".

Over the course of the four-week trial, jurors heard testimony by statisticians, doctors, public health researchers and epidemiologists who disagreed on whether glyphosate can cause cancer.

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