Chemical giant Monsanto ordered to pay cancer damages


A weedkiller widely available in Britain has been blamed for causing the terminal cancer of an American man who has been awarded $289m (£226m) in damages. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2014 at age 42.

A Californian jury ruled that Monsanto knew its Roundup and Rangerpro weedkillers contained harmful glyphosates that are risky to the public - and had failed to warn consumers of the health risks it presented.

Mr Johnson's lawyer, Brent Wisner, said the jury's verdict showed that the evidence against the product was "overwhelming".

As part of his duties as groundskeeper at a California school, Johnson used Roundup between 20 and 40 times a year, sometimes "hundreds of gallons" at a time, according to his lawyer.

Partridge said outside the courthouse that Monsanto had no intention of settling the slew of similar cases in the legal queue, saying if anything the verdict would prompt the company to work harder to demonstrate the weed killer is safe.

Monsanto, however, denied that glyphosate causes cancer and said it will appeal the ruling.

Monsanto now reportedly intends to appeal the ruling.

Several North Texans have also sued Monsanto claiming Roundup caused them to get sick.

"The jury found Monsanto acted with malice and oppression because they knew what they were doing was wrong and doing it with reckless disregard for human life", said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., one of Johnson's attorneys, according to the Associated Press.

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An Australian cancer lobby group is urging global chemical giant Monsanto to come clean on any potential links to cancer with one of its popular weed killers following a major lawsuit in the US.

Following an eight-week trial, the jury ordered the agricultural multi-national to pay $250m in punitive damages together with other costs that brought the total figure to nearly $290m.

Johnson said he hoped his verdict would bolster the other cases. But that issue was sidestepped during the trial, as Johnson's lawyers argued that his cancer was caused by the combination of glyphosate and other chemicals present in Roundup.

Its toxicity is widely regarded to be low in the concentrations used by farmers, although the UN International Agency for Research on Cancer has called it "probably carcinogenic".

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which is responsible for pesticide regulation, said: "Decisions on the use of pesticides should be based on a careful scientific assessment of the risks".

Roundup is one of the country's most popular weedkiller brands, while glyphosate herbicides are the most widely used herbicide in United Kingdom agriculture.

"We are sympathetic to Mr Johnson and his family", Mr Partridge said.

They said he even once contacted Monsanto after developing a rash, and wasn't told of any risk, the AP reported.

"It is a landmark development in terms of the jury fixing responsibility on Monsanto and its negligence and given the discussion around glyphosate and its safety in India", said Kavitha Kuruganti, from the Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA).