Menu

Couple With Cancer Wins $2 Billion in Case Against Monsanto

In determining that the illnesses came about from exposure to glyphosate in Roundup, a California jury delivers the biggest loss so far to the herbicide manufacturer in lawsuits about the product.

May 14, 2019
Catherine Offord

ABOVE: © ISTOCK.COM, NODEROG

A jury in California has ordered global agribusiness Monsanto to pay more than $2 billion to a couple who developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after years of using the company’s weedkiller, Roundup. The verdict—which mandates a payment of $2 billion in punitive damages and a further $55 million in compensatory damages—was delivered on Monday (May 13) and marks the third and largest court loss for Bayer, Monsanto’s parent company, in the ongoing dispute about whether the herbicide promotes the development of cancer.

“Monsanto keeps denying that it causes cancer,” Brent Wisner, a lawyer who represented the couple, told a press conference, Reuters reports. “And these two fine people here are casualties of that deception.”

Alberta and Alva Pilliod, both in their 70s, developed cancer nearly a decade ago after using Roundup regularly around their home and other properties they owned since 1975. Their lawsuit, which they filed in 2017, is one of many alleging that the product’s maker should have done more to warn people of the potential hazards associated with Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate. Around 13,000 plaintiffs across the country currently have suits pending, the Associated Press reports.

See “How Toxic is the World’s Most Popular Herbicide Roundup?

Debate about the risks of glyphosate, a broad-spectrum herbicide used widely all over the world, has heated up in recent years. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer included glyphosate on its list of “probably carcinogenic” substances. The US Environmental Protection Agency and the European Food Safety Authority, meanwhile, maintain that the chemical is unlikely to pose a cancer risk in humans.

See “Long-term Study Finds That the Pesticide Glyphosate Does Not Cause Cancer

In a company statement, Bayer says it will appeal the latest verdict, the AP reports, and adds that “the verdict in this trial has no impact on future cases and trials, as each one has its own factual and legal circumstances.” NPR quotes legal experts as saying that the punitive damages—which are currently 36 times higher than the compensatory damages—will likely be reduced on appeal.

US environmental groups commended the court’s decision. “Juries informed by independent science have repeatedly rejected the Monsanto-promoted myth that glyphosate poses no cancer risks,” Nathan Donley, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, says in a statement, BuzzFeed News reports.

See “European Commission Grants Five-Year License Renewal for Glyphosate

Bayer’s shares have been buffeted by the ongoing legal disputes. Since the first loss in August 2018, in which a man was awarded $289 million (later reduced to $78 million) after claiming that Monsanto’s weedkillers had caused his cancer, the company’s market value has lost about €30 billion ($34 billion), Reuters reports.

June 2019

Living with Bacteria

Can pathogens be converted to commensals?

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Best Practices: Calculating Cell Confluency
Best Practices: Calculating Cell Confluency
In this white paper, learn how to use a cell imager system to directly and accurately capture and calculate cell confluency!
LabTwin's AI-powered Digital Assistant Now Talks Back and Connects Data Sources in the Lab with New Open API
LabTwin's AI-powered Digital Assistant Now Talks Back and Connects Data Sources in the Lab with New Open API
LabTwin GmbH, the world's first voice and AI-powered digital lab assistant, today announced its new open API that will connect scientists with data sources both inside and outside of the lab. 
BCG Digital Ventures and Sartorius Help Launch the World's First Voice-powered Digital Assistant for Scientists
BCG Digital Ventures and Sartorius Help Launch the World's First Voice-powered Digital Assistant for Scientists
LabTwin GmbH, an independent company backed by Boston Consulting Group Digital Ventures (BCG Digital Ventures) and leading biopharma supplier, Sartorius, today announced the launch of the world's first voice and AI-powered digital lab assistant.
Understanding Transcriptomic or Proteomic Datasets to Reveal Biological Mechanisms
Understanding Transcriptomic or Proteomic Datasets to Reveal Biological Mechanisms
When analyzing large transcriptomics or proteomics datasets, we want to understand whether the phenomenon is unusual or commonplace and whether there are informative similarities to other areas of biology. To learn more about how Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA®) and Analysis Match can help, download this white paper from QIAGEN!