Monsanto Roundup lawsuit: Jury awards $289 million to cancer patient

The active ingredient glyphosate is used in a number of weedkillers but the best known is Roundup

The active ingredient glyphosate is used in a number of weedkillers but the best known is Roundup

"The jury's verdict is just the first step in this case", Bayer said in a statement on Monday.

Johnson, 46, alleges that heavy contact with the herbicide caused his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Australia's National Farmers' Federation has rejected the finding of a USA court that the weedkiller Roundup causes cancer, saying it set a "reckless precedent" that could harm agriculture. It was expedited because court filings indicated that Johnson was dying.

There are many more trials to come, and Leacock points out that the burden of proof is relatively low for compensatory damages, and higher for punitive damages, and that depending how other early trials go, Bayer could be pushed toward a settlement.

"When you are right, it is really easy to win", he said. "There's 4,000 other cases filed around the United States and there are countless thousand other people out there who are suffering from cancer because Monsanto didn't give them a choice".

"More than 800 scientific studies, the US EPA, the National Institutes of Health and regulators around the world have concluded that glyphosate is safe for use and does not cause cancer", said Monsanto's vice president of strategy, according to CNN.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond in the U.S. state of Virginia, said the plaintiff's evidence that Monsanto "knew or should have known that Roundup caused his cancer" could benefit those now seeking damages from Monsanto, as well as encourage new filings.

"We are sympathetic to Mr. Johnson and his family", Partridge said.

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Working for a school district in Benicia, California, about 40 miles east of San Francisco, Johnson mixed and sprayed hundreds of gallons of Roundup.

Once, when a hose broke, the weed killer soaked his entire body.

In a verdict that is expected to open the floodgates to a steady stream of similar litigation against the company, the 16-member California Superior Court jury awarded Dewayne Johnson $250 million in punitive damages and almost $40 million in compensatory damages. In 2014, Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer which kills millions of Americans each year.

"The simple fact is he is going to die".

Monsanto scientists knew of the cancer risk posed by Roundup as far back as the 1970s, but failed to inform the public and instead engaged in a "deliberate effort to distort the truth" as the weedkiller generated hefty returns, Mr Johnson's lawyer, Brent Wisner, told the jury in closing arguments last Tuesday.

Glyphosate, which is most commonly sold under the name Roundup, is a wildly popular herbicide manufactured by Monsanto.

He noted that the US Environmental Protection Agency continued to assert - after repeated assessments - that Roundup was safe.

The active chemical in Roundup - glyphosate - has been classified as "probably carcinogenic" by the World Health Organisation but is still approved for use in Australia and the US.

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