In 1974, Monsanto began manufacturing Glyphosate or Roundup as a marketing brand. Nowadays, the toxic is registered in 130 countries and approved for use on more than 100 crops. For more than one decade glyphosate has been a matter of concern for environmental justice organizations as it is recognized as a hazardous substance for human health. Despite the exhaustive campaigns against glyphosate and Monsanto, only a few countries have banned its use.
According to scientific studies, not only those who have direct exposure to glyphosate can be affected. Significant levels of glyphosate have been found in an array of popular breakfast cereals, oats and snack bars marketed to US children. Also in water sources and agricultural´s workers´urine. Glyphosate is a treat to all of us, and the case of Dewayne Johnson -an ex-gardener- can be understood as a precedent for the whole world.
Dewayne Johnson is a 46 years old man who worked as a groundskeeper and pest-control manager at the Benicia Unified School in the District of Vallejo in California. From 2012 until May 2016 he sprayed Monsanto’s herbicide glyphosate (Roundup and Ranger Pro as marketing brands), according to him, from 50-gallon drums 20 to 30 times a year for two to three hours a day.
In 2014, Dewayne began to experience severe skin irritation which he reported to health care providers. He also contacted Monsanto, asking if his skin irritation could have been causing by Roundup but he never got a response. In September 2017, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a blood cell cancer. According to him, this was caused by his exposure to RoundUp during his work.
In Jan 2016, Dewayne initiated the present action against Monsanto on January 28, 2016, demanding a trial by jury. On June 26, 2016, Monsanto filed his answer, also demanding a trial by jury. Plaintiff initially filed a Motion for Trial Preference on July 21, 2017, and the parties subsequently stipulated to a June 18, 2018 trial date.
Monsanto has long argued that Roundup is safe and not linked to cancer. The company presented studies during the trial that countered the research and testimonies submitted by Johnson’s lawyers. These latter argued over the course of a month-long trial that Monsanto had “fought science” for years and targeted academics who spoke up about possible health risks of the herbicide product.
In 2015, the EPA said that glyphosate has a low toxicity for people but could cause problems for some pets if they consume the chemical. The same year, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
In Jun 2018 the Court rules in favor of Dewayne Johnson and ordered to pay $280.000.000 Us dollars to the victim.
After the trial, Scott Partridge, the vice-president of Monsanto, rejected any link between glyphosate and cancer, insisting the “verdict doesn’t change the four-plus decades of safe use and science behind the product”. Monsanto announced it will appeal against the verdict.