For the third time in a year, Monsanto has been found culpable by a jury for contributing to or causing cancer in long-term users of the product Roundup. Alva and Alberta Pilliod both were diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma after using the product Roundup at their home over the span of 40 years. After a 5-week trial, the jury awarded the couple $1 billion each for damages, to be paid by Bayer, the owner of Monsanto and producer of Roundup.
Roundup is the most popular weedkiller in the world, used widely by gardeners, groundskeepers, and homeowners across America. The key ingredient of Roundup, glyphosphate, is the chemical under question. While Bayer and the EPA continue to insist that glyphosate is not harmful to humans, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has found the chemical is “probably” carcinogenic to humans.
Both sides point to respective scientific studies to back their claims. So how did they reach such different conclusions? A possible explanation for this difference in findings is explained by Hilary Brueck in Business Insider. Brueck examines a paper published in Environmental Sciences Europe which found that the EPA relied mainly on industry-funded “unpublished regulatory studies”, while the IARC looked to “mostly peer-reviewed studies”. Monsanto-led studies found that farmers spraying from large spray rigs in fields have not been negatively affected by chemicals in Roundup. However, others insist that the people really in danger are those that are out spraying with a handheld device repeatedly and over a long period of time, like Alva and Alberta. Bayer continues to maintain that anyone who follows instructions on the label will be completely safe.
This is the third time in the past year that Bayer has lost to carcinogenic allegations. In August 2018, Dewayne Johnson, a groundskeeper, was awarded $78.5 million. In March of this year, Monsanto was ordered to pay $80 million to Edwin Hardeman, who used Roundup on his property for 30 years and also developed cancer.
As this latest cancer case breaks, up to 13,000 more lawsuits accumulate nationwide against Bayer-Monsanto.
Don’t Spray Me! and other local environmental groups continue to warn against the use of toxic pesticide and herbicide spraying. Instead, we promote non-toxic methods such as this safe vinegar mixture shared by DSM’s Jim Hudgings. While not everyone has agreed yet that Roundup and other sprays like it are carcinogenic, it is best to stick with a more natural approach, just to be safe. In fact, a study done in 2016 by an independent group found glyphosate in drinking water and groundwater, that the chemical damaged livers and kidneys in rats, and that pigs exposed to glyphosate exhibited congenital malformations. And although the EPA still won’t support the claim that Roundup is harmful to humans, they have admitted that there are “potential ecological risks for terrestrial and aquatic plants, birds, and mammals.” Never mind that humans are, in fact, terrestrial mammals.