Plaintiffs Seek to Consolidate Lawsuits Charging that Roundup Causes Cancer

WHO-says-Roundup-probably-causes-cancerPlaintiffs in 14 different federal courts are seeking to create the new MDL No. 2741 in southern Illinois to hear their lawsuits that Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma — cancer of the lymph nodes.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized intergovernmental cancer agency of the World Health Organization, declared in March 2015 that glyphosate, the chemical in Roundup, is a “probable carcinogen.”

“Any firm would be wise to get younger lawyers involved because this will be a long, hard fight,” said John Ray, a mass tort expert speaking in a recent webinar. Click to see the Slides & Recording for NTL Webinar: Mass Torts Update for Plaintiff Attorneys.

Learn more about the Roundup litigation at the Sept. 23-26 Mass Tort Nexus Course.

Timothy Litzenburg of the Miller Law Firm, which is involved with the motion to consolidate, will speak about the litigation.

To attend, contact Barbara Capasso at barbara@masstortnexus.com or call (954) 383-3932.

“This chemical interferes with the metabolic process, as a method for killing plants. There is no reason to believe it wouldn’t have the same effect on people,” Ray said. “The question is how much exposure is necessary to cause problems. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the tip of the iceberg. This chemical could affect the future of our species. It will be decades before we know everything that it did.”

The Roundup motion to consolidate (PDF) seeks to organize the litigation in the Southern District of Illinois before Judge Nancy Rosenstengel or David Herndon. A similar motion is pending to consolidate the cases in the US District Court of Hawaii. The first action was filed on October 9, 2015.

Roundup, manufactured by Monsanto of St. Louis, has been on the market for 40 years.

  • It is the most widely-used agriculture chemical in history.
  • Each year, approximately 250 million pounds of glyphosate are sprayed on crops, commercial nurseries, suburban lawns, parks, and golf courses.
  • In 2010, an estimated 70% of corn and cotton and 90% of soybean fields in the United States contained Roundup Ready seeds. The company accounts for 27% of the world seed market.

Roundup is used in 130 countries and is found in rivers and groundwater, according to numerous studies. Plants absorb glyphosate and it cannot be removed by washing or peeling produce or by milling, baking or brewing grains. It has been found in food, in the urine of agricultural works and even in the urine of urban dwellers who are not in direct contact with glyphosate. Those most at risk are farm workers, landscapers and employees of garden centers and nurseries.

Campaign of misinformation

“Monsanto has championed falsified data and has attacked legitimate studies that revealed Roundup®’s dangers. Monsanto has led a prolonged campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers and the general population that Roundup® is safe,” states the complaint in John D. Sanders and Frank Tanner v. Monsanto Company, Case No. 5:16-cv-00726-pa-kk.

Monsanto was aware of glyphosate’s carcinogenic properties as early as the 1980s. The US EPA classified glyphosate as “possibly carcinogenic” in 1985. But after pressure from Monsanto, the EPA changed its classification to “evidence of non-carcinogenicity in humans” in 1991. However, the EPA made clear that the designation did not mean the chemical does not cause cancer.

On two occasions, the EPA found that the laboratories hired by Monsanto to test the toxicity of its Roundup® products for registration purposes committed fraud:

  • Monsanto, in seeking initial registration of Roundup by the EPA, hired Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories. In 1976 the EPA found “routine falsification of data” at the company.  Three top executives of IBT were convicted of fraud in 1983.
  • Monsanto hired Craven Laboratories in 1991 to perform studies about Roundup. In that same year, the owner of Craven Laboratories and three of its employees were convicted of fraudulent laboratory practices in the testing of pesticides and herbicides.

rats with tumors

Professor Giles-Eric Seralini and his research team at the University of Caan in France provided pictures of rats fed Monsanto GMO corn saturated with Roundup weed killer. Their study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) discovered that rats fed GMOs developed tumors and died prematurely.

This began a highly-organzied media attack against Seralini by pro-GMO scientists and journalists. When former Monsanto scientist Richard E. Goodman was installed in a newly-created editorial position at FCT, Seralini’s paper was removed from the journal in 2013, a full year after it was initially peer reviewed and published.

Seralini’s study was re-published in 2014 by Environmental Sciences Europe. He also won a libel suit in France against the  former chairman of France’s Biomolecular Engineering Commission, who accused Seralini of “scientific fraud.”

Government crackdowns

Many government agencies have cracked down on Monsanto regarding Roundup.

In 1996 the New York Attorney General sued Monsanto for false advertising over claims that is was “safer than table salt” and “practically non-toxic.” That year Monsanto agreed to cease advertising that Roundup was safe, biodegradable, “good” for the environment, safer that common consumer products or “practically non-toxic.”

In 2009, France’s highest court ruled that Monsanto had not told the truth about the safety of Roundup. The French court affirmed an earlier judgment that Monsanto had falsely advertised its herbicide Roundup as “biodegradable” and that it “left the soil clean.”

Roundup has been banned for sale in the Netherlands, France, Bermuda and Sri Lanka.

 

 

Larry Bodine

Attorney Larry Bodine is Editor of Mass Tort Nexus, and the Editor of The National Trial Lawyers. He is the former Editor in Chief of Lawyers.com and the American Bar Association Journal. He is a cum laude graduate of both Seton Hall University Law School and Amherst College.

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