A growing number of farmers throughout the United States are joining the massive litigation involving Monsanto Roundup, a popular weed killer they claim caused cancer.
Most recently, Roundup lawsuits were filed on behalf of farmers in North Carolina and Iowa.
“I’ve sprayed a lot of it around killing weeds myself,” Henry McWaters recently told ABC11 in North Carolina. “They put it in the tractor and go along and spray the ground and all that stuff and kill the weeds.”
The 80-year-old man has lived on his Sanford, North Carolina tobacco farm for more than 60 years. He used Roundup regularly and leased some of his land to others who did the same.
McWaters was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year. He believes his long-term exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is to blame.
According to ABC11, McWaters is just one of a several North Carolina farmers who claim Monsanto Roundup caused cancer.
Iowa, another large agricultural state, has also seen its share of Monsanto Roundup lawsuits.
One of the most recent cases was filed on behalf of Thomas Williams, a resident of Pleasantville who was repeatedly exposed to glyphosate while working on a farm from 1974-2011.
According to CBS 8 in Des Moines, Williams was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in April. He asserts that Monsanto not only discredited legitimate research into glyphosate’s health effects, but championed biased studies and manipulated regulatory reviews that suggested the herbicide was safe.
Bayer AG, which acquired St. Louis, Missouri-based Monsanto last June, is a defendant in more than 14,000 similar Roundup lawsuits in courts around the United States.
Monsanto developed glyphosate in the 1970s, and it has since become the most popular weed killer in the world.
In March 2015, however, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen, after an independent review linked occupational exposure to an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers.
Despite Monsanto’s alleged efforts to discredit the IARC review, the nation’s first three Roundup cancer trials have produced massive verdicts for plaintiffs with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Last August, a jury in San Francisco Superior Court ordered Bayer to pay $289 million in compensatory and punitive damages to a former school district groundskeeper with terminal cancer. The trial judge later reduced the judgement to $78 million, but only because punitive damages exceeded California’s statutory limits on such awards.
This past March, a jury in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, awarded $80 million to a home gardener with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
And just last month, an elderly couple were awarded $2 billion in compensatory and punitive damages at the conclusion of a trial in California’s Alameda Superior Court. Both plaintiffs had regularly used Roundup on their property since the 1970’s and were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011 and 2015.
A federal judge recently appointed attorney Kenneth Feinberg to lead mediation talks in the hope of reaching a global settlement that could resolve the majority of Roundup cancer lawsuits. While Bayer has agreed to participate in those negotiations, the company denies any assertion that Monsanto Roundup caused cancer. It is appealing the recent verdicts and has vowed to continue waging a vigorous defense.