Monday, July 9, 2018 in the San Francisco County Superior Court, opening arguments were presented in the Johnson v. Monsanto trial. Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, 46, a former groundskeeper for the Benicia Unified School District, is accusing Monsanto of hiding evidence over the past two decades that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, can cause cancer. Johnson who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in 2014, at age 42 and is the father of three. He claims he developed terminal cancer as a result of using the herbicide Roundup. This case could be the first of what could be a flood of cases accusing the agricultural and chemical giant Monsanto of distributing deadly poison and trying to cover it up, as documented in Carey Gillam’s book, Whitewash.
In the opening arguments, Johnson’s lead attorney, Brent Wisner, stated that “a mountain of data” compiled since 2000 show how glyphosate can cause genetic damage that could lead to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He said Monsanto ignored that information and published information “ghost written” by staffers denying the toxicity of the chemical.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., co-counsel for Johnson stated:
“We’re going to see for the first time evidence that nobody has seen before, evidence that has been in Monsanto’s files that we’ve obtained from lawyers and the people in Monsanto…I don’t think it’s a surprise after 20 years Monsanto has known about the cancer-causing properties of this chemical and has tried to stop the public from knowing it, and tried to manipulate the regulatory process.”
Kennedy said he expects this case will help the 700 other clients he represents who claim to have been sickened by Roundup.
“So many people have been exposed to this chemical, this group of chemicals, and many of them have been injured,” he said. “The science is on our side. It is mountainous.”
At stake is the future of the herbicide, which brings in about $4.8 billion a year in revenue. Monsanto was recently purchased by Bayer, the German pharmaceutical company, for $60 billion. Roundup products are registered in 130 countries and approved for use on more than 100 crops, and glyphosate has been found in food and wine, vaccines, breast milk, a variety of water sources, and the urine of agricultural workers and others. A number of countries have policies banning or restricting the sale and use of glyphosate.
Lombardi, the Monsanto lawyer repeatedly pointed to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) findings approving the use of glyphosate, and argued that the plaintiffs were overstating the significance of IARC’s conclusions. (The IARC found that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen” in it’s 2015 report.) He also said Monsanto had been open about its involvement in research, adding: “Testing has been done by independent scientists, by university scientists, by government scientists.”
The plaintiff’s attorney will offer testimony and evidence that the science that Monsanto speaks of has been manipulated and covered up for decades. They will provide compelling documentation on how Monsanto knew that glyphosate and their product, RoundUp, was carcinogenic and did nothing to ensure the safety of the public.
“This is the trial of the century,..The health, economy, and future of America depends on eliminating exposure to toxic chemical products such as Roundup.”
This trial is expected to last over a month and we will continue to follow it and report back to you as the information becomes available.
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