Last week, a California jury found that Monsanto products
containing the herbicide glyphosate are responsible for a former
groundskeeper's diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The verdict caused shares of
German-based Bayer, which recently acquired Monsanto, to fall 11 percent.
Monsanto said it will appeal the decision.
Monsanto was ordered to pay more than $289 million in
damages to DeWayne Johnson, a groundskeeper who was diagnosed in 2014 with
non-Hodgkin lymphoma after years of using Roundup and other Monsanto products
"We are sympathetic to Mr. Johnson and his family.
Today's decision does not change the fact that more than 800 scientific studies
and reviews—and conclusions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the
U.S. National Institutes of Health and regulatory authorities around the world—support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer, and did not cause Mr.
Johnson's cancer," Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of
global strategy, said in a statement.
“We will appeal this decision and continue to vigorously
defend this product, which has a 40-year history of safe use and continues to
be a vital, effective, and safe tool for farmers and others,” the statement continued.
Bayer declined to comment directly on the decision, but a
spokesperson for the company said “the jury's verdict is at odds with
There are several other glyphosate related lawsuits pending
as well as a federal class action lawsuit. Johnson’s case was the first to be
considered by a jury.
In June of this year, a California judge affirmed
an injunction preventing California regulators from requiring warning labels
stating glyphosate is a carcinogen. The judge found research the attorney
general provided from the International Agency for Research on Cancer did not
provide enough proof that glyphosate causes cancer. "The overwhelming
majority of agencies that have examined glyphosate have determined it is not a
cancer risk," the judge wrote.
California has wanted to put misleading labels on glyphosate
since the World Health Organization declared glyphosate to be “probably
carcinogenic.” However, an investigation by Reuters later found key information that supported the conclusion the pesticide
does not cause cancer in animals
had been omitted from the report.
In 2016, the EPA affirmed glyphosate does not cause cancer,
and in 2017 a long-term study by the National Cancer Institute following
50,000 people over 20 years also showed no link between glyphosate and cancer.