RoundUp Herbicide Litigation Against Monsanto Moves ForwardJan 4, 2017
Monsanto Faces Lawsuits Alleging RoundUp Weed Killer Caused Cancer
Litigation continues to move forward against Monsanto over claims that the company's widely-used RoundUp herbicide causes cancer. RoundUp contains glyphosate, a chemical declared as "probably carcinogenic to humans" by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015.
The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are closely monitoring events in the Monsanto RoundUp herbicide litigation. The firm, which has decades of experience representing clients in lawsuits over environmental health risks, continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions.
According to Law360, Monsanto has subpoenaed several physicians who worked on a IARC monograph detailing chemicals found in insecticides and herbicides. The request, which involves a lawsuit filed on behalf of a man who alleges Roundup caused his cancer, has led to a discovery dispute. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria is overseeing the case.
One of the doctors Monsanto subpoenaed is a professor at Texas A&M University. In response to the request, IARC sent a letter stating that the research is its property under an international treaty and the International Organizations Immunities Act. Afterwards, Texas A&M filed a motion to overturn the subpoena.
"I find myself having difficulty figuring out what to do in this strange situation," said Judge Chhabria, according to Law360. "The subpoena was ridiculously overbroad, and we can certainly narrow the scope…but that still doesn't help us answer the question of what materials are subject to immunity."
The lawsuit in question was filed in February 2016. The plaintiff, who cites the 2015 IARC report in his lawsuit, alleges that his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma resulted from using RoundUp regularly since the 1980s. He used the herbicide to control poison oak and weeds on his property in Sonoma County, and alleges that the product never adequately warned about the risk of cancer. The suit alleges that Monsanto has been aware of the cancer risks since the 1970s.
Parker Waichman notes that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has established a multidistrict litigation (MDL) for Monsanto RoundUp herbicide lawsuits. Federal RoundUp lawsuits alleging the herbicide causes cancer have been consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. MDLs are created to consolidate similar lawsuits to one court before one judge. The purpose is to make proceedings more efficient.
According to court records, the JPML created the RoundUp MDL based on the amount of discovery that took place in two of the first lawsuits filed in the Northern District of California which "allows us to assign this litigation to the Honorable Vince Chhabria, a skilled jurist who has yet to have the opportunity to preside over an MDL."
Monsanto acknowledged that the Northern District of California is an appropriate venue for the MDL, even though the company did not want the MDL created.
In light of the IARC report, the California Environmental Protection Agency said it would list glyphosate as a known carcinogen under its Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. In response, Monsanto filed a lawsuit against the state agency alleging that its right to due process had been violated.
Food Safety Group Finds Glyphosate in Popular Food Products
A recent report released by Food Democracy Now!, a food advocacy group, found that many popular foods contain glyphosate. According to the report, the testing was conducted by Anresco Laboratories, San Francisco, a lab that has conducted expert food safety testing since 1943 and is registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Food products, including Original Cheerios, Oreos, Doritos and Ritz Crackers, were tested for glyphosate, the group said. Findings ranged from 289.47 parts per billion (ppb) to 1,125.3 ppb. Testing showed that Original Cheerios contained 1,125.3 ppb of glyphosate.
Currently, there is no general consensus on the "safe levels" of glyphosate in food. The Food Democracy Now! report states that the European Union currently allows 0.3 mg/kg compared to 1.75 mg/kg in the United States. The group contends that current regulations are too lenient, and calls for a new limit of 0.025 mg/kg of bodyweight daily; this is 12 times lower than the European standard and 70 times lower than the US limit.
The group states that glyphosate exposure is associated with serious health risks, stating, "Significant scientific evidence points to the fact that low levels exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals can cause reproductive problems, reduced fertility, miscarriage and that changes in hormone levels can result in the early onset of puberty, obesity, diabetes, behavioral problems, including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), impaired immune function and certain types of cancers." The report also cites evidence linking glyphosate to liver and kidney damage.
Food Democracy Now! points out that glyphosate cannot be removed by washing, and cooking or baking do not degrade the chemical. Glyphosate is stable for a year or longer on food products, the group says.
There is an ongoing debate regarding glyphosate and cancer. Concerns over RoundUp increased after the IARC classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen, but findings have yielded mixed results. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently concluded that glyphosate is not likely to cause cancer in humans.
In 2016, the FDA said it would begin testing food for glyphosate residues. It is the first time the agency has taken this type of action over glyphosate.
Environmental Health published an article in February 2016 calling on regulators to test for glyphosate in food. "It's shocking that it's taken so long, but we're glad it's finally going to happen." said Dr. Nathan Donley, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "More and more scientists are raising concerns about the effects of glyphosate on human health and the environment. With about 1.7 billion pounds of this pesticide used each year worldwide, the FDA's data is badly needed to facilitate long-overdue conversations about how much of this chemical we should tolerate in our food."
Filing a Monsanto RoundUp Herbicide Lawsuit
Parker Waichman has spent years representing clients in lawsuits over alleged environmental health risks. If you or someone you know is interested in filing a Monsanto RoundUp Herbicide lawsuit, speak with one of our environmental attorneys today. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).