Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Man Dying of Cancer Testifies in Landmark Case Against Monsanto

Health + Wellness

A former school groundskeeper in California testified Monday in a landmark lawsuit claiming that repeated exposure to Monsanto's popular Roundup weedkiller caused his terminal cancer.

"I would never have sprayed the product around school grounds or around people if I thought it would cause them harm," the 46-year-old Dewayne "Lee" Johnson told the San Francisco Superior Court jury, as quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle. "They deserve better."


Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto Company is considered a "bellwether" case. If Johnson is successful, it could open the door for roughly 4,000 other similar lawsuits against Monsanto. Conversely, if he loses, it could discourage the other cases.

The plaintiffs claim that exposure to Monsanto's glyphosate-based herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The lawsuits also allege that the company suppressed scientific evidence related to the health risks of its weedkillers.

In 2015, glyphosate was classified as a "probable human carcinogen" by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer. However, Monsanto and other government authorities, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have concluded that glyphosate is safe.

Johnson, who worked from 2012 to 2016 at the Benicia Unified School District, told the courtroom Monday that he sprayed 150 gallons of Roundup 20-30 times a year and carefully used the product, KPIX 5 reported.

"I figured if it could kill weeds it could kill me," Johnson said. "I took it seriously. That's why I wore anything I could to protect myself."

However, he testified that even with protective gear he was exposed to the chemicals due to "drift."

"You were getting it on your face everyday," he said, as quoted by the Guardian. "It was kind of unavoidable."

Johnson also described two incidents where he was accidentally drenched by the herbicide. He called Monsanto's consumer hotline but said the company never returned his call, according to KPIX 5.

Also on Monday, jurors were shown pictures of the skin lesions that developed over most of Johnson's body as a result of the cancer. Johnson described how the lesions caused suffering and diminished his self-confidence.

"We obviously have a huge amount of sympathy for Mr. Johnson and for his family, as we do with anybody who has cancer," Monsanto attorney Sandra Edwards told KPIX 5. "But the 40 years of science and data and experience with this product shows that it doesn't cause cancer."

Johnson sued Monsanto in 2016 after being diagnosed with NHL. His case was expedited because of his poor health. The trial is expected to wrap up on Aug. 10, when Johnson is scheduled for a third round of chemotherapy.

Environmental attorney and advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is part of a Roundup cancer litigation team, also attended the trial.

He tweeted Tuesday that it was a "huge day in court yesterday."

Valley of the Gods in the heart of Bears Ears National Monument. Mint Images / Getty Images

By Sharon Buccino

This week, Secretary Haaland chose a visit to Bears Ears National Monument as her first trip as Interior Secretary. She is spending three days in Bluff, Utah, a small town just outside the monument, listening to representatives of the five tribes who first proposed its designation to President Obama in 2015. This is the same town where former Secretary Sally Jewell spent several hours at a public hearing in July 2016 before recommending the monument's designation to President Obama.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Pexels

By Anthony Richardson, Chhaya Chaudhary, David Schoeman, and Mark John Costello

The tropical water at the equator is renowned for having the richest diversity of marine life on Earth, with vibrant coral reefs and large aggregations of tunas, sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks. The number of marine species naturally tapers off as you head towards the poles.

Read More Show Less
Trending
"Secrets of the Whales" is a new series that will start streaming on Disney+ on Earth Day. Disney+

In celebration of Earth Day, a star-studded cast is giving fans a rare glimpse into the secret lives of some of the planet's most majestic animals: whales. In "Secrets of the Whales," a four-part documentary series by renowned National Geographic Photographer and Explorer Brian Skerry and Executive Producer James Cameron, viewers plunge deep into the lives and worlds of five different whale species.

Read More Show Less
Spring is an excellent time to begin bird watching in earnest. Eugenio Marongiu / Cultura / Getty Images

The coronavirus has isolated many of us in our homes this year. We've been forced to slow down a little, maybe looking out our windows, becoming more in tune with the rhythms of our yards. Perhaps we've begun to notice more, like the birds hopping around in the bushes out back, wondering (maybe for the first time) what they are.

Read More Show Less
The brown pelican is seen on Queen Bess Island in Louisiana in March 2021. Casey Wright / LDWF biologist

Who says you can't go home again?

Read More Show Less
Special thanks to:
The Organic & Non-GMO Report