Published: Sat, July 14, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

Judge rules glyphosate cancer cases can move forward

Judge rules glyphosate cancer cases can move forward

The ruling from Vince Chhabria, the judge in a USA district court in San Francisco, came after years of litigations on lawsuits claiming that the chemical glyphosate in Monsanto's weed killer spray has caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

A San Francisco court now says cases can be brought against the firm on the basis of testimony that Roundup is potentially a cause of the blood cancer non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Monsanto has vehemently denied such a connection, saying hundreds of studies have established that glyphosate is safe.

While evidence that glyphosate - the active ingredient in Roundup - can cause Hodgkin's lymphoma is "rather weak", the opinions of the three experts are not "junk science" that should be excluded from a trial, Chhabria ruled.

The California state judge who handles the most Roundup cases posted to her docket that she was attending the hearings before Chhabria in March.

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"When you look at the body of epidemiological literature on this topic, there's no evidence of a positive association between glyphosate and National Hockey League risk", she said of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Claims against Monsanto received a boost in 2015, when the International Agency for Research on Cancer - part of the World Health Organization - announced that two pesticides, including glyphosate, are "probably carcinogenic to humans".

The plaintiffs will now have to show Roundup caused cancer in individual people whose cases will be selected for test trials, a phase Chhabria called a "daunting challenge".

But the judge also said some of the expert opinions presented so far in the case are "shaky".

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There was "at least a strong argument that the only reasonable conclusion one could draw right now is that we don't yet know" whether the herbicide is causing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, he said.

St. Louis-based Monsanto developed glyphosate in the 1970s, and the weed killer is now sold in more than 160 countries. Farmers in California have been using the weed killer on more than 200 types of crops.

But he said a sensible jury could conclude, based on the results of four experts he allowed, that glyphosate can cause cancer in humans. Homeowners, meanwhile, used Monsanto Roundup on their lawns and gardens.

The company is facing hundreds of lawsuits in state and federal courts that claim otherwise.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last September concluded glyphosate is likely not carcinogenic to humans.

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