A multidistrict litigation (MDL) has been established for lawsuits over Monsanto’s RoundUp herbicide. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred 40 lawsuits to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, before Judge Vince Chhabria. Plaintiffs in the litigation allege that Monsanto failed to warn that glyphosate, the main active ingredient in RoundUp, can increase the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Lawsuits were filed in 15 states.
According to The National Law Journal, the panel decided to establish the 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 did not want the lawsuits consolidated, but acknowledged that the Northern District of California is an appropriate venue since Chhabria is presiding over the two “most advanced cases in this litigation.” Chhabria was appointed by President Obama in 2014. This is his first MDL, National Law Journal reports.
RoundUp has been used as a weed killer since the 1970s. Lawsuits allege that Monsanto knew about this risk but failed to warn consumers or the public. Glyphosate was classified as a “possible carcinogen” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015.
For the first time ever, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced plans to test food for glyphosate residues earlier this year. In February, a group of scientists published an article in Environmental Health calling for regulators to include glyphosate-herbicides in government-led toxicology testing programs.
“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.”