On August 10, former school groundsman Dewayne Johnson was awarded $289 million by state jury in California. His case was against manufacturer Monsanto for not properly labeling their product, Roundup.
Johnson has been diagnosed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and he, his lawyer, and the jury believe that the herbicide ingredient glyphosate, found in Roundup, contributed to his terminal illness.
Despite not being the first to sue Monsanto for this reason, his case is the first to actually make it to trial. In California, dying plaintiffs are granted expedited trial, which put Johnson’s case at the top of the list. However, he is one of many allegedly suffering because of Roundup weedkiller.
Last year alone, 800 cases were made against Monsanto claiming that Roundup gave them cancer. On top of that astronomical number, there is an estimated 4,000 similar cases throughout the United States.
As a school groundsman, Johnson used Roundup 20 to 30 times per year. On two separate occasions, he was “soaked” in the weedkiller after a hose broke. Two years after the first incident, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
There is no actual way to prove what specific thing causes a person’s cancer, so his battle was a long one. In court, Johnson had to prove that his extended exposure to the product helped in creating his current diagnoses.
The California jury agreed on this, going so far as to say that company officials acted with “malice and oppression” in selling their products without proper labeling.
In a 2015 study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, they concluded that glyphosates were a “probable carcinogen to humans.”
Monsanto and Bayer — who just bought out the company for $66 billion this June — both continue to say that the ingredient glyphosate is completely safe. According to BBC News, they claim that there are over 800 scientific studies that show that glyphosates are not connected to cancer or cause cancer.
Glyphosates are the most common herbicide, and while the EU approved them for five more years, many people have protested their use in herbicides.
Despite the safety concerns, farmers are concerned that pulling Roundup from shelves will harm their businesses. According to the Independent, farmers across Britain believe that cutting the use of this product could see a drop as high as 10 percent in crop yields. While the opinion is split regarding this controversial weedkiller, we can only wait and see if it’s actually pulled from shelves any time soon.