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Roundup Weed Killer: Health Complications & Lawsuits

Used on lawns and gardens across the country, farm workers, homeowners, and gardeners use Roundup to kill weeds. The main ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, an herbicide first approved in the United States in 1974.

While toxic to plants, Roundup’s manufacturer, Monsanto, claims the chemical should not cause human ailments under normal exposure conditions. However, studies have found and lawsuits allege Roundup can cause cancer after regular use or exposure.

Roundup Cancer Studies

IARC: Glyphosate Probably Carcinogenic to HumansIn 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released its evaluation of the carcinogenicity of five different pesticides. Glyphosate was one of three chemicals the IARC classified as probably carcinogenic to humans.

The IARC looked at exposure data from the U.S., Canada, and Sweden dating back to 2001, as well as lab-based studies with animal subjects. The exposure data found limited evidence of carcinogenicity to humans, specifically for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Lab studies found sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.

The IARC also notes that one study involving community residents found a higher level of blood markers indicating chromosomal damage following nearby spraying of glyphosate formulations.

FAO/WHO Report on Dietary Risk of Glyphosate

But in May 2016, a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on pesticide residues found that Roundup (glyphosate) likely does not present a cancer risk to humans via dietary exposure.

Monsanto was clearly pleased with this assessment, and released a statement about the “further evidence that this important herbicide does not cause cancer.”

The difference between the IARC and FAO/WHO evaluations is that the FAO/WHO report evaluated dietary exposure, meaning residue on produce. The IARC report was not that specific in evaluating human exposure to the herbicide.

Therefore, many legal claims against Roundup focus not on dietary exposure to the herbicide, but on the environmental exposure. This has brought claims from people who work with and near produce (e.g., farm workers), and even people who use Roundup in their gardens and around their homes.

The Basis of Roundup Lawsuits

In one lawsuit against Monsanto, a Texas woman claims her lifelong exposure to Roundup as a migrant farmer, and later while using it around her home and property, caused her to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Another woman who says she had previously used a Roundup backpack sprayer once a week on her one-acre property is also suing Monsanto, alleging exposure to the herbicide caused her non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Many other plaintiffs make similar claims about their long-term exposure to Roundup, alleging it caused their cancer.

Plaintiffs argue that Monsanto covered up controversial data about its product. These claims include allegations of false advertising, lack of adequate safety warnings or instructions, and falsifying study data. Such claims, if well established, may leave Monsanto liable to patients who developed cancer due to exposure to the herbicide.

A successful lawsuit may allow cancer patients to recover compensation for:

  • Medical damages (e.g., cost of cancer treatment)
  • Lost wages and earning capacity (e.g., if cancer or treatment prevents the plaintiff from working)
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering related to the cancer and treatments
  • Loss of quality of life due to cancer or treatments
  • Loss of consortium

Compensation for other damages may be recoverable as well, depending on the circumstances of each case. If you believe you developed cancer because of your exposure to Roundup weed killer, please review your case and recoverable damages with a qualified lawyer.

Along with monetary damages, plaintiffs are calling for Monsanto to acknowledge the dangers of its product and take appropriate action. Ideally, the lawsuits call for the company to stop using glyphosate completely. However, plaintiffs are asking that, at a minimum, Monsanto include safe use guidelines as well as accurate warnings about the risk of exposure. Plaintiffs believe these warnings and safety instructions may improve safety among those exposed to the herbicide.

Monsanto has vehemently denied these claims, citing its own long-term studies as well as those by independent researchers.

The Monsanto Conflict of Interest

Part of Monsanto’s revenue comes from genetically engineering and marketing “Roundup Ready” crops. These plants resist Roundup herbicides and continue to flourish as the herbicide kills nearby weeds.

Clearly, Monsanto has an interest in fighting allegations that its product is carcinogenic to humans, and has a further interest to keep Roundup on the market to continue to market its Roundup-resistant plants.

Building a Case against Monsanto

People who are considering filing a claim against Monsanto must prove they developed cancer due to exposure to Roundup. A documented medical history as well as a documented history of exposure to Roundup can help bolster these claims.

Bringing a case against Monsanto is difficult and one you should not attempt alone without legal representation. Monsanto is a large, multi-national company worth billions of dollars. It has its own robust legal team to defend against lawsuits alleging a link between Roundup and cancer. The company is already fighting allegations that its product causes cancer and will continue to do so as plaintiffs file more lawsuits.

If you or a loved one developed cancer you believe is related to exposure to Roundup, make sure you have legal help. Call 1-800-DRUG-411 for help finding a lawyer who can answer your questions, evaluate your case, investigate your claim, and file your lawsuit to fight for the compensation you deserve.

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