Monsanto ordered to pay US$289M damages in world's first Roundup cancer trial
A lawsuit filed by school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson alleged that the company's glyphosate-based weedkillers, including Roundup, caused his cancer.
Germany-based Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in June for US$66 billion, has dismissed claims that glyphosate is carcinogenic and says it intends to appeal the verdict.
Bayer's shares fell by almost 10% in early trade on Monday.
Johnson's case was the first lawsuit to go to trial alleging glyphosate - the world's most common weedkiller - causes cancer. There are more than 5,000 similar plaintiffs across the U.S.
Johnson’s lawyers said he developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup and Ranger Pro, another Monsanto glyphosate herbicide, as part of his job as a pest control manager for a California county school system, the New York Times reported.
The jury in Superior Court of California in San Francisco deliberated for three days before finding that Monsanto had failed to warn Johnson and other consumers of the cancer risks posed by its weedkillers.
Bayer says that the California ruling went against scientific evidence.
"On the basis of scientific conclusions, the views of worldwide regulatory authorities and the decades-long practical experience with glyphosate use, Bayer is convinced that glyphosate is safe and does not cause cancer," the company was quoted as saying by AFP.
It said other court proceedings with other juries might "arrive at different conclusions" than the jury which ruled in the California lawsuit, AFP reported.
Last year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that the chemical was not likely carcinogenic to humans, but the World Health Organization in 2015 classified it as “probably carcinogenic.”
Last year also saw EU countries vote to renew the license of glyphosate.
EPA ordered to ban chlorpyrifos
The development came the same week as federal appeals court ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban widely-used pesticide chlorpyrifos on food crops within 60 days.
The 2-1 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle overturned former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s March 2017 denial of a petition by environmental groups to halt its use.
Photo: Creative Commons license, via Flickr