Nebraska Farmers Sue Monsanto Alleging Roundup Gave Them Cancer
Four Nebraskan agricultural workers have filed a lawsuit against Monsanto Co. alleging that the agribusiness giant's cancer-linked product, Roundup, gave them non-Hodgkin lymphoma after many years of exposure.
Farmers Sue Monsanto Over Alleged Herbicide Roundup Link With Cancer: Farmers in Nebraska are suing Monsanto ... https://t.co/GbGh2LK4eF— Gencosys (@Gencosys)1463405570.0
The plaintiffs allege that Monsanto mislabeled the product in defiance of the "body of recognized scientific evidence linking the disease to exposure to Roundup."
Glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the world was infamously classified as "probably carcinogenic to humans" by the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in March 2015.
“Case-control studies of occupational exposure in the USA, Canada, and Sweden reported increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustment for other pesticides,” the IARC said about the herbicide, adding that there is also “convincing evidence” that it can cause cancer in laboratory animals.
The plaintiffs in the case are farmers Larry Domina and Robert Dickey both of Cedar County, York County farmer Royce Janzen and Dodge County agronomist Frank Pollard, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. They are represented by Omaha-based Domina Law Group and New York-based Weitz & Luxembourg.
"Roundup is used by Nebraskans raising everything from grain to grass and tulips to trees. Nothing on the label alerts users to health risks," their attorney David Domina told Courthouse News. He said that Nebraskans deserve the benefit of the WHO's research and protection against unknown exposure.
Does Glyphosate Cause Cancer? https://t.co/1YREQPle3V @ewg @OrganicConsumer @NonGMOProject— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1462916411.0
Monsanto has vehemently denied cancer claims and said that Roundup is "safe enough to drink," as the farmers pointed out in their federal lawsuit.
Roundup, which brought the St. Louis-based business $4.8 billion in revenue last year, is applied to "Roundup Ready" crops around that world that are genetically modified to resist applications of the powerful weedkiller.
According to the farmers' complaint, the ubiquitous product is used in commercial agriculture on more than 100 varieties of crops, with more than 85 million pounds. of glyphosate applied to crops grown in the U.S. in 2001 and skyrocketing to 185 million pounds by 2007.
"Glyphosate is found in rivers, streams, and groundwater in agricultural areas where Roundup is used. It has been found in food, the urine of exposed persons, and in the urine of urban dwellers without direct contact with glyphosate," the complaint states.
The farmers are seeking punitive damages for defective design, failure to warn, negligence and breach of warranty.
Monsanto spokeswoman Charla Lord told Courthouse News in an email that "while we have sympathy for the plaintiffs, the science simply does not support their claims when it comes to glyphosate."
"The U.S. EPA and other pesticide regulators around the world have reviewed numerous long-term carcinogenicity studies and agree that there is no evidence that glyphosate causes cancer, even at very high doses," she continued. "Since 1991, glyphosate has been classified by the U.S. EPA in its lowest category for evidence of non-carcinogenicity based on extensive animal studies. In fact, glyphosate is one of the most thoroughly studied herbicides in the marketplace."
Incidentally, last month, the EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee published a report online about glyphosate concluding that the chemical is not likely carcinogenic to humans. However, even though it was marked “Final” and was signed by 13 members of CARC, the report disappeared from the website three days later. The EPA said that the report was “inadvertently” released.
The chemical has been the subject of incredible controversy in Europe especially after the European Food Safety Authority famously rejected the IARC’s classification of glyphosate as a possible carcinogen in November.
Activists have been relabelling bottles of Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller in garden centers and DIY shops across the UK. Roundup contains glyphosate, a chemical that the WHO has shown to be "probably carcinogenic." Photo credit: Global Justice Now
The European Commission—the executive body of the European Union—reportedly plans to relicense glyphosate for nine years despite opposition from European Parliament, which voted on April 13 to oppose EU relicensing. Additionally, countries such as France, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands and now Germany, as well as 1.4 million people have called on an EU ban of glyphosate.
Meanwhile, Monsanto is facing a mounting number of similar cancer lawsuits.
In March, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Monsanto by the widow of a prominent Cambria, California farmer alleging that Roundup caused her husband of 40-years, Anthony Jackson “Jack” McCall, to develop a rare and aggressive version of non-Hodgkin lymphoma after he used the herbicide on his 20-acre fruit and vegetable farm for nearly 30 years.
In February, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported that Christine and Kenneth Sheppard, the former owners of Dragon’s Lair Kona Coffee Farm in Honaunau, Hawaii, have accused the multinational agribusiness of falsely masking the carcinogenic risks of glyphosate and is responsible for causing the woman’s cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Last year, California announced plans to become the first state to label glyphosate as a carcinogen based on the IARC's classification. Monsanto has fought back against the Golden State with their own lawsuit.
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"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."
'These Aren't Wildfires'<p>Sam Ricketts, who led climate policy and strategy for Governor Jay Inslee's 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted on September 11 that "These aren't wildfires. These are #climatefires, driven by fossil fuel pollution."</p><p>"The rate and the strength and the devastation wrought by these disasters are fueled by climate change," Ricketts told DW of fires that have burnt well over 5 million acres across California, Oregon, Washington State, and into neighboring Idaho. </p><p>In a two-day period in early September, Ricketts notes that more of Washington State burned than in almost any entire fire season until now, apart from 2015. </p><p>California, meanwhile, was a tinderbox after its hottest summer on record, with temperatures in Death Valley reaching nearly 130 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. It has been reported as the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth.</p>
<div id="29ad9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8346fe7350e1371d400097cd48bf45a2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1306969603180879872" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Drought-parched wetlands in South America have been burning for weeks. https://t.co/pjAKdFcKPg #Pantanal https://t.co/ImN2C5vwcp</div> — NASA Earth (@NASA Earth)<a href="https://twitter.com/NASAEarth/statuses/1306969603180879872">1600440810.0</a></blockquote></div><p>As evidenced by Australia's apocalyptic Black Summer of 2019-2020, fires are burning bigger and for longer, with new records set year-on-year. Right now, Brazil's vast and highly biodiverse Pantanal wetlands are suffering from catastrophic fires.</p>
#climatefires Started in Australia<p>Governor Inslee this month invoked the phrase climate fires for arguably the first time in the U.S., according to Ricketts.</p><p>But the term was also used as fires burnt out of control in Australia in late 2019. In the face of a 2000km (more than 1,200 miles) fire front, and government officials and media who <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/trump-climate-change-denial-emissions-environment-germany-fake-heartland-seibt/a-52688933" target="_blank">played down the link to climate change</a>, Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and a friend decided that reference to bushfires was inadequate. </p><p>"We both just said, we've got to start calling them climate fires, that's what they are," the Australian Senator told DW.</p><p>Hanson-Young says scientists have been warning for decades that these would be the effects of global heating. "We've been told these kinds of extreme weather events and destruction is what climate change would look like, and it's right here on our doorstep," she said from her home state of South Australia — where by early September fire warnings had already been issued.</p><p>"Calling them climate fires was making it absolutely crystal clear. It is essential that there's no ambiguity," she said </p><p>Having deliberately invoked the term, Hanson-Young soon started to push it on social media via a #climatefires hashtag. </p>
How to Talk About the Urgency of Global Heating<p>The need to use more explicit language when talking about extreme weather events linked to climate change is part of a broader push to express the urgency of global heating. In 2019, activist Greta Thunberg tweeted that the term "climate change" did not reflect the seriousness of the situation. </p><p>"Can we all now please stop saying 'climate change' and instead call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?" she wrote. </p><p>"Climate change has for a long time been talked about as something that is a danger in the future," said Hansen-Young. "But the consequences are already here. When people hear the word crisis, they understand that something has to happen, that action has to be taken."</p><p><span></span>Some terms are now used in public policy, with state and national governments, and indeed the EU Parliament, declaring an official climate emergency in the last year. </p>
Words That Reflect the Science<p>But while the West Coast governors all fervently link the fires to an unfolding climate crisis, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to avoid any reference to climate. In a briefing about the fires, he responded to overtures by Wade Crowfoot, California's Natural Resources Secretary, to work with the states on the climate crisis by stating: "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch." Crowfoot replied by saying that scientists disagreed. Trump rejoined with "I don't think science knows, actually." </p><p>It was reminiscent of the anti-science approach to the coronavirus pandemic within the Trump administration, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/donald-trump-admits-playing-down-coronavirus-risks/a-54874350" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at least publicly</a>. Fossil fuel companies are also benefiting from his disavowal of climate science, with the Trump administration having <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-trumps-paris-climate-accord-exit-isnt-really-a-problem/a-51124958" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pulled out of the Paris Agreement</a> and reopened fossil fuel infrastructure like the Keystone XL pipeline. </p><p>But the science community has responded, with Scientific American magazine endorsing Trump's Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden, the first presidential endorsement in its 175-year history. </p><p>Hanson-Young says the use of explicit language like climate fires has also been important in Australia due to the climate denialism of politicians and the press, especially in publications owned by Rupert Murdoch. As fires burnt out much of Australia's southeast coast, they were commonly blamed on arson — a tactic also recently used in the U.S.</p>
Climate Rhetoric Could Help Decide Election<p>The language of climate has begun to influence the U.S. presidential election campaign, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden labelling President Trump a "climate arsonist."</p><p>Biden is touting a robust climate plan that includes a 2050 zero emissions target and a return to the Paris Agreement. Though lacking the ambition of The New Green Deal, it has been front and center of his policy platform in recent days, at a time when five hurricanes are battering the U.S. Gulf Coast while smoke blanketing the West Coast spreads all the way to the East. </p><p>People are experiencing the climate crisis in a visceral way and almost universally relate to the language of an emergency, says Ricketts. "They know something is wrong."</p>
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