The next asbestos? – Could Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup cause cancer?
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There have recently been a number of highly-publicised disputes against Monsanto in the US, with plaintiffs alleging their use of the weedkiller Roundup has resulted in them developing cancer. Four plaintiffs have been awarded significant payouts, with the most recent being for $2.89 billion (US). Another 13,400 plaintiffs have now commenced legal action.
And, last month, we saw the first action being brought in Australia.
Melbourne man, Michael Ogalirolo, was a gardener for 18 years, and used Roundup up to four times per day. He has no family history or risk factors associated with cancer, yet he has developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He alleges that a diminutive compound found in the weedkiller called glyphosate is responsible.
He claims that the dangers associated with using Roundup have not been adequately brought to consumers’ attention, noting how easy it is to access Roundup at hardware stores and that the packaging contains no recommendation that users wear any safety equipment.
So, what is Glyphosate?
Glyphosate is a compound commonly used in agriculture to kill weeds and help with unwanted grass management. The salt form of glyphosate is also used for plant growth and to ripen fruit. Around the home, it is most commonly found in weed killers. Roundup, for example, contains up to 20% glyphosate.
Watch this space…
Because the cases in the US are the first cases in which plaintiffs have sought to establish a link between Roundup and cancer, much of the evidence they relied on was medical and scientific. While some plaintiffs have been successful in establishing this link, Monsanto maintains that Roundup is safe. It is expected that it will appeal the decisions, arguing that some of the scientific evidence should not have been admitted by the courts.
So, it remains to be seen whether in Australia glyphosate, like asbestos, will be recognised by the Courts as a cause of cancer. Nonetheless, we are likely see more cases brought against Monsanto in coming months and years – both in Australia and overseas.
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