Australia’s leading cancer group is calling for a new warning on all glyphosate-based herbicides sold in the Land Down Under, just weeks after the first Monsanto Roundup lawsuit trial in the United States concluded with a massive plaintiffs’ verdict.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the world’s most popular herbicide.
In 2015, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)< declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen, especially in relation to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and its various subtypes.
Despite these findings, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) hasn’t formally reviewed the weed killer in over a decade. Cancer Council Australia is now demanding that the regulator revisit the matter.
“We are concerned that this issue’s not being taken seriously enough in Australia, particularly by the agricultural industry,” Cancer Council Australia CEO Dr Sanchia Aranda said during an interview that aired on the country’s “Four Corners” program.
“The IARC report is independent and does suggest that there is absolutely a reason for concern.”
More than 9,000 people in the United States have filed Roundup lawsuits that accuse Monsanto of deliberately concealing research linking glyphosate to cancer.
In August, the first such case to go to trial concluded with a $289 million verdict for Dwayne Johnson, a former school district groundskeeper from California who was exposed to Monsanto Roundup 20-30 timers per year in the course of his career.
The 46-year-old father of two boys was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2016 and is considered terminal.
During trial in San Francisco Superior Court, Johnson’s attorneys cited internal company emails and other documents as proof that Monsanto had unduly influenced studies and reviews that purported to contradict the IARC findings.
The jury hearing the closely-watched case returned a unanimous verdict, awarding Johnson and his family over $2.3 million for past and future economic losses and $37 million for pain and emotional distress.
Monsanto was also ordered to pay $250 million in punitive damages for what the jury considered oppressive and malicious conduct.
More doubt was cast on Monsanto’s conduct earlier this month, when Critical Reviews in Toxicology published an “Expression of Concern” for 5 major glyphosate studies that had disputed any link to cancer.
The “Expression of Concern” was published after an investigation determined that the
“Declaration of Interest Statement” that initially accompanied those studies had wrongly downplayed Monsanto’s involvement.
Several environment groups had demanded the studies’ retraction last year, charging that it was not disclosed that at least two authors worked as consultants for, and were directly paid by, Monsanto for their work. At least one Monsanto employee extensively edited the manuscript and was adamant about retaining inflammatory language critical of the IARC assessment — against some of the authors’ wishes.