Monsanto to pay $289 million to cancer patient
“This case is way bigger than me. I hope it gets the attention that it needs.”
- Dewayne Johnson, former school groundskeeper awarded $289 million from Monsanto
A jury in California has found that Monsanto's glyphosate-based herbicides contributed significantly to Dewayne Johnson's terminal cancer. Mr. Johnson, 46, was a school groundskeeper who repeatedly sprayed Monsanto's Roundup and Ranger Pro glyphosate-based herbicides. The verdict also found that the potential risks were known by the scientific community and Monsanto failed to adequately warn of the danger.
“I never would’ve sprayed that product on school grounds or around people if I knew it would cause them harm.”
After an eight-week trial, the jury deliberated for three days and found that:
- Roundup contributed substantially to the plaintiff's cancer and awarded him $39.3 million in pain and suffering and economic damages;
- Monsanto acted "with malice or oppression" and awarded an additional $250 million in punitive damages.
"The jury’s verdict found not only that Monsanto’s Roundup and related glyphosate-based brands presented a substantial danger to people using them, but that there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Monsanto’s officials acted with “malice or oppression” in failing to adequately warn of the risks." - from The Guardian article “One Man’s Suffering Exposed Monsanto’s Secrets to the World” by Carey Gillam.
Monsanto, a leader in genetically modified seed technology, is now owned by the chemical and seed company Bayer. On Monday, Bayer's shares plunged as much as 14%, losing about $14 billion in value. Monsanto faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits in the US over claims that it did not warn of cancer risks. Bayer will appeal the ruling.
Glyphosate is the world's most common herbicide. The use of glyphosate has increased dramatically with the widespread adoption of genetically modified (GM) glyphosate-tolerant crops.
- In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an agency of the World Health Organization, concluded that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen."
- The European Commission recently granted glyphosate another five-year license but the French President is seeking a national ban by 2021 and the German government is discussing a similar measure.
- Earlier this month, a Brazilian judge suspended registration of all glyphosate products in the country until the government reevaluates their toxicity. The government is contesting the decision.
Watch the jury's verdict being read out. "This verdict is without question truly historic. What Mr. Johnson has done, taking on this massive corporation, the courage, the tenacity and the willingness to speak out against what he believed was a real problem is truly spectacular" - Brent Wisner, one of the lawyers for Dewayne Johnson, speaking on Democracy Now! August 13.
Organic farming prohibits the use of synthetic pesticides and genetically modified organisms.
Check www.cban.ca/pesticides for more information and updates.
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The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) brings together 16 organizations to research, monitor and raise awareness about issues relating to genetic engineering in food and farming. CBAN members include farmer associations, environmental and social justice organizations, and regional coalitions of grassroots groups. CBAN is a project on Tides Canada’s shared platform.