Today, a federal jury in San Francisco awarded $80.8 million to Sonoma County resident Edwin Hardeman after ruling last week that exposure to the Monsanto Company's Roundup herbicide was "a substantial factor" in the development of his cancer. Roundup is Monsanto's brand name for its herbicides containing the active ingredient glyphosate.
Diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in February 2015, Mr. Hardeman used Roundup for more than two decades to kill poison oak and other weeds on his 56-acre property. He sued Monsanto, alleging the company knew or should have known of the risks its herbicide posed to users, but did not provide adequate warnings about these harms.
"The world's foremost cancer authorities with the World Health Organization declared glyphosate to be 'probably carcinogenic to humans' in 2015," said Bill Freese, science policy analyst at Center for Food Safety (CFS). "Besides causing tumors in animal trials, glyphosate exposure has been linked to this very cancer – non-Hodgkin lymphoma – in no less than three epidemiology studies of farmers and other pesticide applicators."
Hardeman's case is the second of its kind. In August 2018, a California state jury awarded a Roundup-using school groundskeeper with a terminal case of non-Hodgkin lymphoma nearly $290 million in damages, an award subsequently reduced to $78.5 on appeal.
Bayer, which recently acquired Monsanto, reports that over 11,000 plaintiffs are suing the company, alleging that exposure to glyphosate harmed them.
"These two verdicts make it even more likely that other plaintiffs will achieve some measure of justice for Monsanto's malfeasance," added Freese.
In 2016, CFS submitted testimony to the EPA's Scientific Advisory Panel regarding the carcinogenicity of glyphosate, citing internal EPA memos that document EPA's original finding that glyphosate is possibly carcinogenic, as well as Monsanto's intense pressure on EPA that led the Agency to alter its findings.
CFS is the leading public interest group to challenge approval of the glyphosate-resistant GMOs that have driven an enormous increase in the use of this hazardous herbicide, and triggered an epidemic of glyphosate-resistant weeds. CFS has also highlighted glyphosate's adverse environmental impacts, including its substantial role in the decline of the monarch butterfly through killing off milkweed, the butterfly's host plant.