Ex-Farmhand Sues Monsanto, Claims Roundup Gave Him Bone Cancer

Colorado resident Enrique Rubio used to be a farmhand who worked with Monsanto's most widely-recognized herbicide: Roundup. Now, the former farm worker is suing the agricultural giant, Monsanto, claiming that the company was negligent by failing to present the full risks to human health that allegedly come with regular use of the widely-used weedkiller.

58-year-old Rubio has been diagnosed with bone cancer, and the lawsuit against Monsanto claims that Roundup products were "a substantial and contributing factors in causing Plaintiff's grave injuries." Like most farmhands in the United States, who use Roundup extensively on genetically modified "Roundup Ready" crops, Rubio used pumps to spray fields with the herbicide commonly called Roundup. The former farm worker filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Rubio says that while working with the pesticide in both fruit and vegetable fields, only a paper mask acted as protection.

"Agricultural workers are, once again, victims of corporate greed," Rubio's complaint said, according to Law360. "Monsanto assured the public that Roundup was harmless. In order to prove this, Monsanto championed falsified data and attacked legitimate studies that revealed its dangers."
"For nearly 40 years, farms across the world have used Roundup without knowing of the dangers its use poses … because when Monsanto first introduced Roundup, it touted glyphosate as a technological breakthrough: it could kill almost every weed without causing harm either to people or to the environment. Of course, history has shown that not to be true."
In March, much to the opposition of Monsanto executives and lawyers, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer stated that glyphosate, a chemical component in Roundup, is a "probable" cause of cancer. That's enough probability for Rubio's complaint to be heard. Monsanto's team said that the WHO's IARC made an "agenda-driven" accusation, and that it contradicted many global regulators and extensive industry research. As soon as the announcement that Roundup could potentially be causing cancer was made, analysts were immediately able to foretell the potential for lawsuits just like Rubio's.

A Monsanto spokesperson told Workplace Fairness in an email that the former farmhand's lawsuit will be aggressively opposed in court by the agricultural giant. "While sympathetic to individuals experiencing health problems, including those alleged by the plaintiff in this case, we believe that glyphosate is safe for human health when used as labeled and that this suit is without merit," a Monsanto spokesperson stated.

Rubio's lawyers hope to prove that Monsanto "championed falsified data and attacked legitimate studies that revealed its dangers," and "led a prolonged campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers and the general population that Roundup was safe." Rubio's lawsuit intends to show that the EPA has found that labs hired to test the toxicity of the herbicide by Monsanto committed fraud on two occasions. Of course, Monsanto claims the industry was the victimized party of fraud. The company's leaders allegedly claim that Monsanto had to spend millions of dollars in order to retest the toxicity once the fraud was revealed.One of Rubio's lawyers, Robin Greenwald, said that she expects Monsanto to have to field many more of these lawsuits, stating, "I believe there will be hundreds of lawsuits brought over time."

California plans to list the chemical herbicide as a potential cause of cancer, according to an announcement in September from the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

The same day, 64-year-old Judi Fitzgerald filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York claiming that her exposure to Roundup while she worked at a horticultural products company is connected to the leukemia she was diagnosed with in 2012.

According to the Toledo Blade, both lawsuits claim that Monsanto's Roundup was a "defective" weedkiller and "unreasonably dangerous" to consumers. The lawsuits also both state that Monsanto knew, or at the very least, should have known, that regular exposure to Roundup could cause cancer, yet the farm workers were never warned of this potential link.

[Photo via Pixabay]