Monsanto Facing Fresh Roundup Litigation

14.10.2015 -

US agriculture and GMO giant Monsanto is facing lawsuits from farm workers in connection with its Roundup herbicide. One case charging that glyphosate, the primary ingredient in the herbicide, caused the plaintiff’s cancer is still pending. A horticultural worker has meanwhile settled with the company out of court.

The lawsuits, in which Monsanto also is being accused of falsifying data and leading a “prolonged campaign of misinformation” to mislead the public, farm workers and government agencies about the herbicide’s safety, are based heavily on statements half a year ago by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), said glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

IARC is a sub-agency of the World Health Organization (WHO). Monsanto has demanded a retraction of the WHO report and has said it will “vigorously” defend itself against lawsuits.

“We believe that glyphosate is safe for human health when used as labeled,” a company spokeswoman told the news agency Bloomberg. She added that while Monsanto is sympathetic to individuals experiencing health problems, she said the latest lawsuits are “without merit.”

The first US suit was filed in Los Angeles in late September by a 58-year-old former field worker who was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1995. He blames his exposure to Roundup and other crop protectants for the disease. Simultaneously, a 64-year-old assistant horticulturalist filed in New York City, saying that the herbicide caused her leukemia. This suit has since been withdrawn, however.

The US company, which reported a $495 million loss for its fiscal fourth quarter, is under pressure from several quarters over glyphosate. In September, Environmental Protection Agency of the state of California said it planned to list the chemical as a known carcinogen. In Europe, an appeals court in Lyon, France, upheld a 2012 ruling against Monsanto, in which it was found guilty of poisoning a French farmer.