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Monsanto ordered to pay $289m damages in Roundup cancer trial

Monsanto ordered to pay $289m damages in Roundup cancer trial


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AFP

Image caption

Crops are often treated with the herbicide glyphosate

Chemical giant Monsanto has been ordered to pay $289m (£226m) damages to a man who claimed herbicides containing glyphosate had caused his cancer.

In a landmark case, a Californian jury found that Monsanto knew its Roundup and RangerPro weedkillers were dangerous and failed to warn consumers.

It’s the first lawsuit to go to trial alleging a glyphosate link to cancer.

Monsanto denies that glyphosate causes cancer and says it intends to appeal against the ruling.

“The jury got it wrong,” vice-president Scott Partridge said outside the courthouse in San Francisco.

The claimant in the case, groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, is among more than 5,000 similar plaintiffs across the US.

Correspondents say the California ruling is likely to lead to hundreds of other claims against Monsanto, which was recently bought by the German conglomerate Bayer AG.

Mr Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014. His lawyers said he regularly used a form of RangerPro while working at a school in Benicia, California.

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AFP

Image caption

Dewayne Johnson (R) hugged his lawyer after hearing the verdict

Jurors found on Friday that the company had acted with “malice” and that its weedkillers contributed “substantially” to Mr Johnson’s terminal illness.

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 almost $290m.

In a statement after the ruling, Monsanto said it was “sympathetic to Mr Johnson and his family” but it would “continue to vigorously defend this product, which has a 40-year history of safe use and continues to be a vital, effective and safe tool for farmers and others”.

The use of glyphosate has long been controversial.

One UN study called the chemical “probably carcinogenic”, although other scientists have said it is safe to use.

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AFP

Image caption

Roundup is a popular brand of weedkiller



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