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20 August 2018

Monsanto ordered to pay €254 million to gardener living with cancer

On 10 August, a Superior Court jury in California granted Dewayne Johnson, a gardener, $289 million (€254 million) in damages from Monsanto for its Roundup weed killer having caused his cancer.

Johnson's lawsuit against Monsanto was the first case to go to trial in the US in a string of legal complaints alleging the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Johnson sprayed Roundup and another Monsanto product, Ranger Pro, as part of his job as a pest control manager at a San Francisco Bay Area school district.

He developed a bad rash and was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014, when he was 42.

The jurors in the Superior Court of California, who deliberated for nearly three days, found that Monsanto failed to warn Johnson and other consumers about the risks posed by its weed-killing products.

"The jury found Monsanto acted with malice and oppression because they knew what they were doing was wrong and doing it with reckless disregard for human life," said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a member of Johnson's legal team.

Monsanto, for its part, vehemently denies a link between glyphosate and cancer, frequently pointing to studies that have found the active ingredient in Roundup is safe. The St. Louis-based agribusiness titan has appealed against the verdict.

Glyphosate, however, was classified as a probable human carcinogen three years ago by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a wing of the World Health Organization.

Over 4,000 cancer patients are suing Monsanto in numerous state courts for failure to warn the public about the risk of cancer associated with glyphosate-based weedkiller RoundUp.

In the European Union, a French court found in 2012 Monsanto guilty of chemical poisoning of Paul François, a farmer who had used the herbicide Lasso, a trade name for alachlor, an herbicide from the chloroacetanilide family. In 2015 a French appeals court upheld the ruling and ordered the company to "fully compensate" the grower.

Sources: NBC news, The Ecologist

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