Studies and Lawsuits tie Roundup Weedkiller to Cancer and Birth Defects

Widespread use of the popular herbicide Roundup, which contains the known carcinogen glyphosate, is at the center of a series of lawsuits in Hawaiʻi and across the country.

New information is coming to light from studies linking the chemical to serious health problems that include cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, infertility and birth defects.

Pesticides Linked to Climate Change, Despite Declining Efficacy

Pesticides are a key contributor to climate change – posing risks to the environment, public health, and food security – while their effectiveness is declining, according to a recent study.

Developed by Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), the study describes a vicious cycle: pesticides add emissions to the air that contribute to climate change, and as temperatures rise, so do the number of pests and insects. More insects encourage agricultural workers to use more pesticides.

This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that greenhouse gas emissions from pesticides are understudied and underestimated.

The Environmental Impact of Pesticides

Producing one kilogram of pesticides requires about 10 times more energy than one kilogram of nitrogen fertilizer, an agriculture chemical with known negative environmental impacts. Meanwhile, some pesticides like sulfuryl fluoride are themselves greenhouse gasses – emitting one ton of sulfuryl fluoride is equivalent to emitting nearly 5,000 tons of CO2. According to researchers, the issue is further complicated by oil and gas companies, which profit from pesticides. Ninety-nine percent of synthetic pesticides are derived from petroleum.

Higher Demand, Questionable Efficacy

As temperatures rise, crops become less resilient due to heat stress, changing rainfall patterns, and more pests. This leads to greater demand for synthetic chemicals and pesticides. Indeed, the global synthetic pesticide industry is predicted to grow substantially in the coming years: estimated at $16.3 billion in 2021, it is anticipated to grow to $27.6 billion by 2031.

However, some researchers note that less than .01 percent of pesticides even reach the pests they’re intended to target. This figure is especially low when it comes to flying insects like mosquitoes. Consider this: based on an estimate that target mosquitoes only receive about 0.0000001% of aerial spray, 1 million insecticide droplets must be produced to hit only one target mosquito. Consequently, excess chemicals end up in the soil, water, air, and on other plants. Hot temperatures further aggravate this problem by rendering pesticides into a toxic gas.

Pesticides, Cancer & Birth Defects 

Meanwhile, the human toll of pesticide use is significant. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are an estimated 300,000 human pesticide poisonings in the United States resulting from applying pesticides. The global number is much greater, with 26 million human pesticide poisonings and 220,000 deaths each year.

Exposure to glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp, increases a person’s likelihood of developing cancer by 41%, according to an analysis by University of Washington researchers. Pesticides may also lead to birth defects when parents are exposed to them before or during pregnancy.  These chemicals may damage the mother’s or father’s chromosomes leading to issues in fetal development.

A Potential Solution: Agroecology

Given the link between pesticides and climate change, and the human costs associated with pesticide use, there is a need to reduce reliance on them. This is especially true given their declining efficacy.

Agroecological farming offers a solution by promoting ecological processes that adapt to local conditions as well as practices such as intercropping (where two or more crops grow together to increase biodiversity and promote plant health.) Agroecology also prioritizes the health of farmers and agricultural workers. According to the PANNA report, agroecology leads to better public health, improved food security, and enhanced biodiversity.

According to one of the PANNA report’s co-authors, “conventional farming methods don’t account for environmental externalities and health costs.”

The report acknowledges that a change across the entire food production system would be costly and encourages the use of incentives such as subsidies, similar to those introduced for transitioning to green technology.

How We Help Victims of Pesticide Exposure

Seek justice with the help of our experienced lawyers. For 20 years, our pesticide law firm has battled corporate giants on behalf of individuals like you, aggressively fighting to hold them responsible for dangerous chemicals and the birth defects and personal injuries they cause. If you or a loved one has suffered adverse health effects caused by dangerous products, we can help.


New Documentary Finds Roundup “Everywhere”

Brian Lilla, an award-winning filmmaker, moved to the Napa Valley wine region to raise his children in a healthy environment. But as he saw Roundup applied vigorously to the vineyards spread throughout the area, he “learned how toxic wine country is.”

“I didn’t want to leave Napa because I have children,” Lilla said in an interview with the nonprofit publication Capital & Main. “I didn’t want to run away from the problem. No matter where I go, there’s going to be glyphosate in the food. Yes, it blew my mind to find out how much it’s being used in the vineyards. But I want to make it clear that the vineyards are not the villains, nor are farms.”

Lilla’s new film, “Children of the Vine,” explores the role the herbicide Roundup has had on Napa Valley vineyards and the people who work in them and live around them.

What Is Roundup?

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is commonly found in herbicides throughout the world. Although Roundup’s maker, Monsanto, insists the product is safe, the World Health Organization concluded in its 2015 report on glyphosate that this key herbicide ingredient is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Lawsuits by farmworkers, groundskeepers, and others who regularly use Roundup as part of their jobs are mounting, with claims that it causes cancer and other health problems. More than thirty countries have banned or limited the use of glyphosate.

Glyphosate Is Everywhere, But Do We Really Need to Use It?

Unfortunately, the use of glyphosate is so widespread that traces of it can be found even in organic food products, including wine.

The “Children of the Vine” website points out that glyphosate “is now found in breast milk, baby food, wine, and 80% of food grown in the United States.”

An interviewee in the film stated: “So as we look at the consequences in our children, with each generation mounting a more and more severe collapse of health and more and more penetrance of disease, glyphosate sits at the center of it because we have poured a single chemical into our food and water system at a rate now of four billion pounds a year.”

Director Lilla said he had a “cordial” discussion with Monsanto’s public relations department about “Children of the Vine.” After he shared the film with them, “they sent me an eight-page report refuting everything I say about Roundup, which comes from the scientists and legal evidence.”

Lilla also talked to vineyard growers and others in the wine industry about the use of glyphosate. “I think it boils down to economics,” he said. “What is it going to cost to maintain your weed program with Roundup? And what’s really interesting about that question is what you find when you talk to organic growers. When I talked to Frogs Leap Winery [a Rutherford (California) winery that farmed organically for decades], I found that it doesn’t cost more, isn’t more work. It’s about the same.”

Another interviewee in the film said: “A lot of the problems you see in vineyards are self-inflicted. You can easily farm grapes in Napa Valley organically.”

How We Help Victims of Pesticide Exposure

Seek justice with the help of our experienced lawyers. Our Dallas, Texas, pesticide law firm has battled corporate giants on behalf of individuals like you for 20 years, aggressively fighting to hold them responsible for dangerous chemicals and the birth defects and personal injuries they cause. If you have a child with birth defects caused by dangerous products, we can help.

Paradise Lost: The Secret Pesticide Danger Looming in Hawai‘i

Pesticides sprayed on genetically modified corn are potentially having a dangerous effect on residents of Hawai‘i. So, why aren’t questions being answered?

A storm has been brewing over the last three years in reference to something quite tiny: corn kernels. On one side, companies claim that the plant is a cash crop across Hawai‘i. On the other hand, doctors say that the corn, genetically modified to resist pesticides, is leading to birth defects, and illnesses. It truly isn’t the corn that is at issue.  It is the pesticides that are sprayed on the GMO (genetically modified organisms) corn and the severe birth defects and illnesses to which they possibly lead.

How do Pesticides Contaminate?

According to a detailed study conducted by the Center for Food Safety, in Kauai alone, chemical companies Dow, BASF, Syngenta, and DuPont spray 17 times more restricted-use insecticides per acre than on ordinary cornfields in the US mainland.  About 90% of industrial GMO corn grown in the US was originally developed in Hawai‘i, with the island of Kauai hosting the biggest area.

When the spraying takes place and the wind is blowing simultaneously, this is how the town becomes contaminated. This phenomenon, known as pesticide drift, is the movement of pesticide dust or droplets through the air at the time of application or soon after, to any site other than the intended area. Kauai residents who live, work, and play close to the fields complain of their eyes and lungs hurting along with dizziness and nausea.

Pediatrician, Carla Nelson, has reported that there have been at least nine infants born with severe heart malformations requiring complex surgery within the last five years. This is more than 10 times the national rate, according to analysis by local doctors.

How People Work to Stop Pesticide Contamination

Growing concern over pesticides and their health impact on residents led to multiple attempts to force companies to disclose in advance what they spray and to create buffer zones. While former Hawai‘i senate majority leader, Gary Hooser, was previously rebuffed in his requests, he continued to do research and found that companies, unlike regular farmers, were being treated differently. The state asked for a federal exemption for the companies so they could avoid modern standards of compliance. The chemical companies that grow the corn on land Hawai‘i previously used for sugar refuse to disclose with any precision which chemicals they use, where and in what amounts, but they insist the pesticides are safe, and most state and local politicians concur.

This culture of non-disclosure has created an increased desire for information on the possible connection between these pesticides and birth defects. In response, the Joint Fact-Finding Study Group on Genetically Modified Crops and Pesticides on Kauai, composed of doctors and scientists, and a professional facilitator was appointed to “determine if there are human harms coming from these pesticides.”

The possible link between pesticides sprayed on GMO plants and birth defects along with other illnesses continues to be an ongoing issue for the people of Hawai‘i with more questions than answers and passionate beliefs on both sides.

Media Manipulation Comes Out During Monsanto Roundup Lawsuit

Between growing concern over the safety of glyphosate and allegations of media manipulation, who should the public trust when it comes to understanding the dangers of using Roundup herbicide? As confidential documents were uncovered during discovery in Monsanto Roundup lawsuits, the herbicide maker and its parent company, Bayer, were accused of manipulating the media to portray their corporation in a more favorable light. The deception by Monsanto about Roundup herbicide is worrisome, because while they promote stories that highlight the benefits and safety of the product, one of Monsanto’s own scientists said he would be concerned if someone wanted to test Roundup herbicide.

Bayer is facing over 13,000 Monsanto Roundup lawsuits filed by cancer victims, alleging the weed killer caused their illness. The main ingredient in Roundup herbicide is glyphosate, which has been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Media Manipulation During Monsanto Roundup Lawsuit  

While Monsanto Roundup lawsuits have the company in the spotlight, internal documents were released suggesting manipulation not only of scientists and regulators but also the media. One woman falsely identified herself as a freelance reporter for BBC while attending one of the Monsanto Roundup cancer trials in San Francisco. The woman spent time with other journalists who were there to cover the proceedings, feeding them storylines that favored the agrochemical giant. The woman was actually a “reputation management” consultant for FTI Consulting, who represents Monsanto. An attorney for some of the plaintiffs suing Monsanto refers to the company’s plan to persuade public opinion as their “dark money project.” He suggests this involves planting helpful news stories in popular news outlets, discrediting journalists who speak against Monsanto, and secretly funding front groups to bolster Monsanto support on social media platforms.

Monsanto Kept Watch Lists on Pesticide Friends and Foes 

Examples of willful deception continue to crop up after Bayer “watch lists” surfaced. The lists consisted of pro or anti-pesticide figures, including journalists, politicians, and certain interest groups. Bayer admitted that their PR agency, FleishmanHillard, compiled the list of stakeholders and figures on behalf of Monsanto. While the company waits to investigate and gather more information, Bayer claimed they plan to suspend the agency’s PR work but continue marketing projects.

How We Help Pesticide Victims

Seek justice with the help of our experienced attorneys. Our Dallas, Texas pesticide law firm has battled corporate giants on behalf of individuals like you for 20 years, aggressively fighting to hold companies responsible for dangerous chemicals and the cancers and personal injuries they cause. If you have suffered catastrophic injury caused by Monsanto’s Roundup or other harmful chemicals, we can help.

Groundskeeper Awarded $289M Roundup Cancer Verdict

In a groundbreaking trial, a Northern California jury unanimously agrees Monsanto Roundup pesticide was a contributing cause of Bay Area school groundskeeper’s incurable cancer. The award was later reduced to $78 million.

CALIFORNIA –– A San Francisco jury has awarded DeWayne Lee Johnson $289 million finding Monsanto liable for contributing to Mr. Johnson’s terminal cancer. Mr. Johnson contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after regularly using the company’s popular Roundup herbicide and a similar product, Ranger Pro.

Update: The judge later slashed the punitive damages portion of the award, reducing the total award to $78 million.

Mr. Johnson was exposed to Monsanto’s Roundup and Ranger Pro weed killers as a school groundskeeper in the San Francisco Bay Area. He routinely sprayed the school district’s properties with large quantities of the herbicides from a 50-gallon tank attached to a truck. During wind gusts, the weed killer would blowback, covering Mr. Johnson’s face. On one occasion, the hose broke completely dousing Mr. Johnson’s body with Roundup. Two years later, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

According to court documents, lesions cover as much as 80% of Mr. Johnson’s body. On his bad days, Mr. Johnson is too weak to even speak. His doctors were not sure he would live long enough to see his day in court. So far, Mr. Johnson has beaten the odds, but his prognosis is bleak.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, has classified Roundup’s main active ingredient, glyphosate, as a “probable human carcinogen.” The State of California has also added glyphosate to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer. However, a judge temporarily stopped the state from requiring that Monsanto add a cancer warning label on its products sold in California.

Roundup is the most popular herbicide used in the world. It is commonly sprayed on residential properties and used by commercial growers on agriculture crops and fields. According to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, Roundup is the state’s most widely used herbicide. People who work in commercial agriculture or industrial farming are at high risk for exposure to pesticides and herbicides like Roundup.

Mr. Johnson, who is 46-years-old and married with two sons, is the first to take a case to trial against Monsanto alleging that Roundup causes cancer.

After deliberating for three days, the jury unanimously agreed that Roundup contributed to Mr. Johnson’s lymphoma. On August 10, 2018, in a precedent-setting verdict, the jury awarded Mr. Johnson $289 million. This amount includes $39 million for compensatory damages and $250 million for punitive damages. The jury found that Monsanto hid the risks from consumers. The jury also said that Monsanto should have provided a label warning of the potential health hazard.

Update: Monsanto fought back, asking the judge to overrule the whole jury award for punitive damages. Instead, Judge Suzanne Bolanos substantially reduced the punitive damages award from $250 million down to $39 million. Judge Bolanos said she would not order a new trial if Mr. Johnson accepts the reduction.

On October 26, 2018, Mr. Johnson agreed to the judge’s terms. Through his attorney, he informed the court that he accepts the reduction in punitive damages in order “to avoid the further burden of a new trial or appeal.” Mr. Johnson’s total award is now $78 million.

Monsanto has denied links between its pesticides and cancer for decades and maintains its product is safe. Before the reduced award was granted, the agribusiness giant said it planned to appeal. Monsanto faces many more lawsuits from potentially thousands of people who have been harmed by Roundup.

Waters Kraus & Paul
Waters Kraus & Paul is a mid-sized plaintiffs’ law firm that fights for families who have been harmed by toxic chemical exposures. We represent parents who have worked in the commercial agriculture and growing industry and who are raising a special needs child. If you have a child with birth defects and you have been exposed to pesticides or other chemicals while on the job, email or call 866.295.4518 to see how we can help you.

Why Isn’t This Life-Threatening Pesticide Banned on Farms?

Parents who work as farmhands or pickers are often in nearby fields when pesticides like Roundup are sprayed. Farmworkers sometimes even eat fruits that have recently been sprayed. But there is a toxin in many pesticides, called glyphosate, that is linked by two international health organizations to cancer and childhood birth defects including missing or deformed limbs, and many other health issues.

Big money convinces farm-owners and the EPA to approve of harmful pesticides

So why are farm-owners not often worried about exposing their farm workers to these toxic chemicals? Because big dollar corporate ads from giant companies like Monsanto, who make lots of money from the pesticides and special seeds, say that Roundup or similar pesticides are safe. They’ve even used powerful agricultural lobbyists to convince the US government watchdog, the EPA, to greatly increase the legal residue limits for glyphosate on produce sold at stores over the last few years alone. Then, pesticide companies point to these EPA regulations, which they helped create, to support their false claims regarding product safety. Because these company-produced messages are so powerful, homes and farms in America are using more Roundup and similar harmful products than ever, 100,000 lbs annually. But they’ve also become more relaxed about using proper protections to keep from being exposed.

However, both the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization say the products are anything but safe. In fact, while years of testing strongly suggest that glyphosate was likely to cause cancer, more recent tests show that the toxic chemical might actually be more dangerous than scientists first thought. Several tests found glyphosate in the blood of people who use Roundup for their home garden only 30 minutes after they used it. If it has such a quick effect in low household usage, think of how many times unprotected people who work on big farms would find it in their blood?

Sadly, history is repeating itself. Just like the tobacco industry said cigarettes were safe, and corporations said exposure to asbestos was not a problem, now the pesticide companies falsely say that there is simply “not enough information” to claim that their products are dangerous to people’s health. Scientists and parents are trying to lift the silence by voicing their concerns. They want to stop the steady growth in childhood birth defects and other health risks.

Have you been exposed to a harmful pesticide at work?

Nearly every non-industry funded study has found that glyphosate causes cancer, neurological defects, childhood birth defects, and countless other harmful outcomes. If you are a farmworker whose child might have been harmed by pesticide exposure, please contact us. Waters Kraus & Paul offers an experienced team of caring lawyers who will do everything they can to hold farms and corporations responsible. Please click here for more information. Or contact us by phone at 800-226-9880.

Big Island Men Sue Chemical Giant

Three lawsuits filed against Monsanto Co. for herbicide and PCB exposure.

A Honolulu law firm has filed a trio of product liability civil lawsuits this month on behalf of three Big Island men against the chemical giant Monsanto Co. in Hilo Circuit Court.

The civil suits were filed by attorney Ilana K. Waxman of Galiher DeRobertis & Waxman on behalf of Rodney I. Sunaoka and Honey Sunaoka, Dudley Caravalho and Susan Caravalho, and Alan Z. Inaba.

The men, who range in age from 60 to 77, claim exposure to glyphosate — a herbicide marketed by Monsanto as Roundup — and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, manufactured and marketed by Monsanto in the U.S. until banned in 1979, caused their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“Rather than pull it off the market, they [Monsanto and parent company, Bayer] have continued to try to deny that it’s even been recognized as a carcinogen by (the International Agency for Research on Canter) and other governmental and nongovernmental agencies from around the world,” Waxman said.

Read the full article.