Farmers Stricken with Cancer Sue Monsanto over Roundup

by Royce Pope Green LivingComments: 4

The courts recently dealt Monsanto another huge set back despite a massive media campaign to shake off claims that its products cause cancer.

TV images of contented suburbanites happily spraying Roundup around their homes with children playing nearby are doing little to assuage growing concern that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto herbicides, is causing cancer in farmers (and consumers?) who use it.

And they are suing big time.

Christine Sheppard, a Hawaiian farmer, began using Roundup on her coffee farm in 2003. After coming down with non-Hodgkins lymphoma seven years later (she is now in remission), she and her husband decided to sue, charging that glyphosate is not safe for humans as claimed by the company.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is one of the most common types of cancer associated with Roundup exposure.

Sheppard’s attorney Michael Miller was quoted by West Hawaii Today as saying that Monsanto is running a glyphosate “misinformation campaign” and said his clients’ suit would “force Monsanto to face the human consequences of their lies.”

In a big win for farmers and consumers alike, aggressive attempts by Monsanto attorneys to have the case dismissed have failed. Judge Michael Seabright ruled that Sheppard’s accusations may be accurate paving the way for the case to play out in the courts.

The case will be no easy win for Monsanto given the report by the World Health Organization which identified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen, prompting bans by several EU countries.

Cancer Lawsuit not the First for Monsanto

The lawsuit by Ms. Sheppard is not the first.

Three Nebraskan farmers and one agronomist stricken with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are also suing Monsanto for unspecified damages. Similar to Ms. Sheppard’s claims, they allege the company misled its customers about the safety of Roundup.

 The lawsuit charges that:

“Monsanto championed falsified data and has attacked legitimate studies that revealed Roundup’s dangers. Monsanto led a campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers, and the general population that Roundup is safe.”

The lawsuit also alleges that Monsanto “concealed or systematically sought to discredit” research demonstrating the danger of Roundup and related products containing glyphosate.

Agricultural workers coming down with cancer are joining farmers in the fight too. Similar lawsuits have been filed in California, Delaware, and other states.

Monsanto Supporters Not Sure Glyphosate is Safe

The response from a Monsanto rep to this barrage of lawsuits?

“While we have sympathy for the plaintiffs, the science simply does not support their claims.”

Despite this seemingly unflappable front, cracks are starting to appear in Monsanto’s carefully crafted image. Monsanto’s own sympathizers don’t seem to have much confidence in the safety of its products.

Recall the “it would have been hilarious if it weren’t so sad” debacle on French TV when Monsanto lobbyist, Dr. Patrick Moore, insisted during a live interview that Roundup was so safe that humans could drink it. When challenged to try some, however, the lobbyist repeatedly refused to do so.

Here’s how part of the interview went down:

  • Dr. Patrick Moore: “You can drink a whole quart of it [Roundup] and it won’t hurt you.”
  • Interviewer: “You want to drink some? We have some [Roundup] here.”
  • Dr. Patrick Moore: “I’d be happy to, actually. Not really. But I know it wouldn’t hurt me.”
  • Interviewer: “If you say so, I have some.”
  • Dr. Patrick Moore: “I’m not stupid!”

Pressed one last time by the intrepid interviewer to drink some Roundup to prove his point, Moore says, “I’m not an idiot” and ends the interview.

While Monsanto scientists and lobbyists may not be stupid, they clearly seem to assume that most farmers and consumers are!

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