SAN FRANCISCO A jury's $289 million award to a former school groundskeeper who said Monsanto's Roundup left him dying of cancer will bolster thousands of pending cases and open the door for countless people who blame their suffering on the weed killer, the man's lawyers said.
In an historic victory for those who have long sought to see agrochemical giant Monsanto held to account for the powerful company's toxic and deadly legacy, a court in California on Friday found the corporation liable for damages suffered by a cancer patient who alleged his sickness was directly caused by exposure to the glyphosate-based herbicides, including the widely used weedkiller Roundup.
A Californian jury ruled that Monsanto knew its Roundup and Rangerpro weedkillers contained harmful glyphosates that are unsafe to the public - and had failed to warn consumers of the health risks it presented. "Roundup could cause cancer", Johnson's lawyer Brent Wisner said in a statement, according to The Guardian.
Last year, the CBS 11 I-Team sat down with Monsanto's vice president, Scott Partridge, at the company's headquarters in St. Louis.
The company has denied ties between glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, and cancer.
Partridge said that Monsanto had no intention of settling the slew of similar cases in the legal queue, saying if anything the company would work harder to demonstrate the weed killer is safe.
Several North Texans have also sued Monsanto claiming Roundup caused them to get sick.
The jury also found Monsanto "acted with malice or oppression" and ruled the company knew or should have known the weedkiller was risky.
Once, when a hose broke, the weed killer soaked his entire body.
The jury ordered the agricultural multi-national to pay $250 million in punitive damages together with other costs that brought the total figure to nearly $290 million.
On its website, Monsanto describes its offerings as "crop production products such as Roundup®herbicides, that enjoy a risk-free history in more than 100 countries".
Public liability lawyer at Maurice Blackburn, Dimi Ioannou, said the findings of the United States case would make glyphosate "a long-standing issue".
Glyphosate is the most common weedkiller in the world, and the safety of its use has been a topic of hot debate for some years.
But the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to insist that glyphosate is safe when used carefully.In Europe, too, the battle over glyphosate has been fierce.
Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson, shown on July 9, listening to his attorney speak about his condition during the Monsanto trial in San Francisco. Johnson hugs one of his lawyers after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto at the Superior Court Of California.
They said he even once contacted Monsanto after developing a rash, and wasn't told of any risk, the AP reported. California added glyphosate to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer.
"All the efforts by Monsanto to put their finger in the dike and hold back the science; the science is now too persuasive", Kennedy said, pointing to "cascading" scientific evidence about the health dangers of Roundup.