The ripple effect is being felt around the world after a recent verdict finding Monsanto’s weed killing products responsible for a man’s terminal cancer.
Earlier this month, a San Francisco jury ordered Monsanto to pay Dewayne Johnson $289 million US after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Johnson blames his illness on the company’s glyphosate-based weed killers, such as Roundup, after using the products repeatedly at his job as a school groundskeeper.
Now, the Californian cities of Novato and Benicia are announcing they will no longer use Roundup or other products containing glyphosate. They say it’s just not worth the risk.
Novato’s mayor, Josh Fryay, told ABC News, “There’s a saying that you put your money behind your values and in our community, we value the environment, we value protecting our children.”
The city is now looking for volunteers to help members of the public works department pull weeds in parks and schoolyards. Sounds like a fair compromise to me.
Elsewhere In The World
These two cities aren’t alone; in wake of the precedent-setting case against Monsanto, groups in various cities and countries around the world are renewing their calls for an outright ban of weed killers containing glyphosate.
France’s Green Party has filed court action to ban the consumer use of glyphosate. It plans to bolster its case with internal documents presented during the Johnson vs. Monsanto trial showing the company ignored scientific warnings that its weed killers were dangerous.
The French government has also indicated that banning such products within the next three years is a top priority, while also ordering food safety authorities to carry out new studies on how toxic they really are.
Elsewhere in Europe, the California verdict has reignited debate about the use of Roundup and similar products. Just last year, the European Union approved the use of glyphosate for another five years. But now, the European Parliament’s special committee on the EU’s pesticide authorization process wants the chemical banned for good, and so do the governments of Italy and Germany.
There are so many other places in the world that have taken steps to either ban or restrict the use of glyphosate, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, England, the Netherlands, and more.
Most of these countries have had the ball rolling for some time, spurred to action following a 2015 report by the World Health Organization concluding that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Monsanto says it’s going to appeal the Johnson verdict, citing scientific evidence finding its weed killing products to be safe. In 2017, a report by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found no link between the exposure to Roundup and cancer.
Still, the verdict has scared investors, having a huge impact on the company’s performance on the stock market. Monsanto’s parent company, Bayer, saw its shares plunge by 11% after the news came out, making it the worst performing stock on the STOXX Europe 600 index.
The Huffington Post quotes a Barclays analyst as saying even with an appeal, Bayer, which purchased Monsanto earlier this year, can expect a bill of about $5 billion to resolve the issue.
How much it will cost the company and how many more cities and countries move to ban Roundup remains to be seen.
But with 5,000 more lawsuits against Monsanto similar to Johnson’s ready to go to court, it’s likely we haven’t seen the last of it.