Johnson | CNN
ST. LOUIS – A spokesman for the Missouri Farm Bureau said a recent multimillion court judgment in California against Monsanto that links its Roundup herbicide to cancer in humans is a mistake that will cost farmers in the end.
“The largest and strongest study to date on the relationship between glyphosate and cancer found no relationship between the two,” Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, told the St. Louis Record.
Glyphosate is the chemical compound used in Roundup to inhibit weed growth.
On Aug. 10, a jury in San Francisco ruled that the weed killer Roundup manufactured by Monsanto had caused a groundskeeper to develop terminal cancer. Dewayne Johnson was awarded $289 million in damages and the case could open the gate to hundreds of similar lawsuits alleging that the substance causes non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Johnson, 46, had been employed as a groundskeeper working for a school district near San Francisco and his duties required him to use Roundup.
After three days of hearing testimony, the jury in the Superior Court of California in San Francisco agreed the chemical had caused Johnson’s disease and awarded him $39 million in compensation and $250 million in punitive damages.
According to an Aug. 11 CNN report, California allows expedited trials for dying plaintiffs. Johnson’s case was given priority because doctors who reported he was near death said they weren’t certain he would live long enough to see his trial.
Officials of Monsanto, an agricultural chemical company based in St. Louis, denied Roundup was the cause of the Johnson's cancer and said they would appeal the decision.
Hurst said studies of the herbicide product have failed to prove a cancer link.
“A study lasting several years and funded by the National Institutes of Health covering 50,000 farmers failed to impress the jurors in California,” he said. “One hopes that future juries will be more open to scientific evidence.”
Hurst added that a ban on Roundup would hurt farmers.
“Farmers will lose a valuable tool and consumers will face increased risks because the compounds replacing Roundup are more toxic,” he said.