Scientists can’t seem to agree on glyphosate. The popular weed-killer ingredient was deemed “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organization in 2015, but the EPA in 2017 said it was “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” And then a new study suggests people exposed to large doses of the chemical have a heightened risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
But while scientists may not be able to say that glyphosate causes cancer, a jury can. Jurors in a federal lawsuit in California ruled that Roundup — which contains glyphosate — was a substantial factor in causing Edwin Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Hardeman underwent chemotherapy treatments in 2015. This was after the 70-year-old used Roundup to kill poison oak on his 56-acre property for 26 years. Two of the expert witnesses who testified in Hardeman’s case cited the latest study linking glyphosate and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. According to the study’s author, Rachel Shaffer, people who are highly exposed to glyphosate are 41% more likely to contract NHL than the overall population.
But this is just the first phase of Hardeman’s trial. Now that jurors had determined the chemical to blame for his cancer, they must now decide how liable the manufacturer will be. Bayer AG acquired Roundup maker Monsanto last year, and continues to claim “glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer.” Hardeman’s lawyers, on the other hand, claim they have evidence that Monsanto attempted to manipulate public opinion and science to minimize Roundup’s health risks.
Hardeman’s is far from the only lawsuit claiming Roundup causes cancer. Some 11,000 Roundup suits are pending in American courtrooms, around 760 of which are in front of the same judge as Hardeman’s. His is considered a “bellwether” trial which could impact how those other cases proceed, although Bayer contends the jury finding “has no impact on future cases and trials because each one has its own factual and legal circumstances.” Last year, a different California jury awarded $289 million to a groundskeeper who contracted lymphoma after using Roundup, although a judge later reduced the verdict to about $78 million.
Product liability cases can be complex, especially those that attempt to link products to cancer diagnoses. If you think a particular product is responsible for your cancer, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney about your legal options.