Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Monsanto Cancer Ruling Sparks Backlash Around the Globe

Health + Wellness
Monsanto Cancer Ruling Sparks Backlash Around the Globe
Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson leaves the courtroom after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto at the Superior Court of California in San Francisco on Aug. 10. JOSH EDELSON / AFP / Getty Images

Glyphosate, the world's most popular herbicide, is at the center of international scrutiny after a San Francisco court on Friday decided in favor of a California school groundskeeper with terminal cancer.

The jury ruled that the plaintiff, Dewayne "Lee" Johnson, developed cancer from repeated exposure to Roundup, Monsanto's widely used glyphosate-based weedkiller, and ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages.


The landmark jury ruling, which could open the door for roughly 4,000 similar U.S. lawsuits against Monsanto, sparked outcry around the world.

Europe

Germany's Bayer, which purchased Monsanto this year for $63 billion, also purchased a potential mountain of legal costs. Shareholders are certainly spooked. Bayer's stock tumbled as much as 14 percent on Monday, losing about 12 billion euros ($14 billion) in market value, Reuters reported.

Bayer defended the safety of glyphosate and said it would appeal the verdict. "The jury's verdict is at odds with the weight of scientific evidence, decades of real world experience and the conclusions of regulators around the world that all confirm glyphosate is safe and does not cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma," the company said in a statement to Reuters.

Glyphosate, the most-used herbicide in the European Union, has been the subject of fierce debate in Europe for years. Last year, the European Commission extended its license for five years, but the ruling in San Francisco has reinvigorated calls for a ban.

"We must fight the invasion of this substance in our market, a threat that exists due to monstrous commercial agreements signed only in the name of profit," Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio wrote on Facebook over the weekend.

France's Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot described the verdict as the "beginning of a war" against glyphosate in Europe. "If we wait, such poisons will not be prevented from doing their damage and the victims will be excessively numerous," he said to BFM radio.

Italy and France are moving towards a phase-out of the chemical. Germany aims to end use of glyphosate in this legislative period, which ends in three years, Reuters reported. In April, German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner announced she was drafting rules to stop use of glyphosate in the country's home gardens, parks and sports facilities.

India

Activists told Times of India on Monday that Friday's verdict in California should prompt a nationwide ban.

"Our organization has already filed a petition with the ministry of agriculture with thousands of signatures seeking the ban on glyphosate. However the government has not taken any action so far," Kathiva Kuruganti of Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture told the publication.

Glyphosate is widely used on herbicide-tolerant cotton in India. In May, India's Supreme Court refused to stay the Delhi High Court's ruling that Monsanto cannot claim patents for Bollgard and Bollgard II, its genetically modified cotton seeds, in the country. Monsanto first introduced its GM-technology in India in 1995. Today, more than 90 percent of the country's cotton crop is genetically modified.

Australia

On the heels of the ruling in California, Greenpeace is urging the Australian government to restrict sales of Monsanto's weedkillers, which is sold in shops across the country.

"Use of this dangerous product should be severely restricted," Jamie Hanson, Greenpeace's head of campaigns, told Guardian Australia."

Hanson added, "Roundup is widely available for sale in Australia ... potentially exposing millions of people to its harmful effects. This case is only the first of hundreds that have been filed in the U.S. claiming Roundup causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma. We have no idea how far this will spread and how many more are to come."

Shares of Australia's Nufarm, which contains glyphosate, fell 17 percent Monday after the cancer finding in California, Reuters reported.

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and regulatory authorities around the world, including Australia, support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer," spokeswoman for Monsanto in Australia told Guardian Australia.

One report in spring 2020 found that 38% of students at four-year universities were food-insecure. Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images

By Matthew J. Landry and Heather Eicher-Miller

When university presidents were surveyed in spring of 2020 about what they felt were the most pressing concerns of COVID-19, college students going hungry didn't rank very high.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Coast Guard members work to clean an oil spill impacting Delaware beaches. U.S. Coast Guard District 5

Environmental officials and members of the U.S. Coast Guard are racing to clean up a mysterious oil spill that has spread to 11 miles of Delaware coastline.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Plain Naturals offers a wide variety of CBD products including oils, creams and gummies.

Plain Naturals is making waves in the CBD space with a new product line for retail customers looking for high potency CBD products at industry-low prices.

Read More Show Less
What happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years? Halfpoint / Getty Images

By Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie

Of all the plastic we've ever produced, only 9% has been recycled. So what happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years?

Read More Show Less
Donald Trump and Joe Biden arrive onstage for the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 22, 2020. JIM WATSON / AFP via Getty Images

Towards the end of the final presidential debate of the 2020 election season, the moderator asked both candidates how they would address both the climate crisis and job growth, leading to a nearly 12-minute discussion where Donald Trump did not acknowledge that the climate is changing and Joe Biden called the climate crisis an existential threat.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch