Workers sue Monsanto claiming herbicide caused cancer
Two cases could just be the start
A US farm worker and a horticultural assistant have filed lawsuits in the US claiming that Monsanto's Roundup herbicide was the cause of their cancers and that Monsanto had intentionally misled the public and regulators about the dangers of the herbicide.
Reuters reports that one suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Sept. 22, names 58-year-old Enrique Rubio as plaintiff. Enrique is a former farm worker in California, Texas and Oregon who spent several years laboured in fields of cucumbers, onions and other vegetable crops.
His duties included spraying fields with Roundup and other pesticides. Rubio was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1995.
A separate lawsuit making similar claims was filed the same day in federal court in New York by Judi Fitzgerald, 64, who claims she was exposed in the 1990s to Roundup when she worked at a horticultural products company. Fitzgerald was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2012.
The lawsuits come six months after the World Health Organization's cancer research unit said it was classifying glyphosate, the active weed-killing ingredient in Roundup and other herbicides, as "probably carcinogenic to humans." And just a month after the California Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will label a chemical used by Monsanto in its Roundup weed killer as "known to cause cancer."
More lawsuits to follow?
Robin Greenwald, one of the attorneys who brought Rubio's case, said on Tuesday that she expects more lawsuits to follow as Roundup is the most widely used herbicide in the world, and the WHO cancer classification gives credence to long-held concerns about the chemical.
"I believe there will be hundreds of lawsuits brought over time," Greenwald told Reuters.
Monsanto spokeswoman, Charla Lord, said that the claims were without merit and that glyphosate is safe for humans when used as labelled.
"Decades of experience within agriculture and regulatory reviews using the most extensive worldwide human health databases ever compiled on an agricultural product contradict the claims in the suit which will be vigorously defended."
The lawsuits claim that Roundup was a "defective" product and "unreasonably dangerous" to consumers, and that Monsanto knew or should have known that glyphosate could cause cancer and other illnesses and injuries, failing to properly warn users of the risks.
The lawsuits also allege the US Environmental Protection Agency changed an initial classification for glyphosate from "possibly carcinogenic to humans" to "evidence of non-carcinogenicity in humans" after pressure from Monsanto.
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