Northern California Record

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Federal lawsuits over glyphosate's cancer risk consolidated, moved to California district

By Taryn Phaneuf | Oct 22, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO — A U.S. district judge in Northern California will oversee the consolidated cases against Monsanto, which faces claims that its most widely used herbicide, Roundup, can cause cancer.

Monsanto faces 21 actions in 14 districts, alleging that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Plaintiffs claims Monsanto didn’t warn consumers or regulators about the alleged risks of Roundup. Judge Vince Chhabria, who has made the most progress in two claims originally filed here, will preside over the consolidated cases.

“This consolidation has no impact on the facts of these cases,” Scott Partridge, vice president of global strategy at Monsanto, told the Northern California Record.

Plaintiffs in each action wanted the cases to be centralized, but suggested a variety of districts, including districts in California, Illinois, Hawaii and Louisiana. Despite Monsanto’s opposition to the consolidations, a U.S. judicial panel on multi-district litigation decided to send the cases to a district the company favored.

“We selected the Northern District of California as the appropriate transferee district for this litigation. Two of the earliest-filed and most procedurally advanced actions are pending in this district,” the decision stated. “The Northern District of California is both convenient and easily accessible for all parties, and we are convinced that the district has the necessary judicial resources and expertise to efficiently manage this litigation.”

The claims are based on the conclusions of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). In March 2015, IARC, a non-governmental agency based in France, assessed the carcinogenicity of five pesticides, including glyphosate.The agency concluded there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Monsanto introduced Roundup products in 1974. Besides glyphosate, the herbicide contains inactive surfactants, which are chemical compounds found in products like shampoo, allowing glyphosate to get past the waxy surface of a weed. Roundup is used by anyone from farmers to homeowners to control weeds.

IARC’s findings have been called into question by numerous scientists and regulators, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). During a regular review of glyphosate — the first since 1993 — the EPA looked at studies on the herbicide and concluded it is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans at the doses relevant to human health.”

“IARC and its findings have been thoroughly discredited and rejected by the rigorous scientific research of governmental authorities around the world,” Partridge said. “The consolidation simply streamlines the process of pre-trial discovery and some evidentiary decisions, but in the end, the cases will be tried individually in the federal jurisdictions in which they were filed. These cases are expected to fail on the merits because the very long and well-established history of glyphosate proves it is safe."

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Organizations in this Story

California Environmental Protection Agency International Agency for Research on Cancer Monsanto Company U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)