Aug. 20 2018 10:19 AM

San Francisco jury finds in favor of school groundskeeper with terminal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

A San Francisco jury ruled Aug. 10 in favor of a former school groundskeeper that Roundup weed killer, consisting of the active ingredient glyphosate, caused terminal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The jury awarded the plaintiff $289 million in damages. The defendant, Bayer unit Monsanto, has signaled that it plans to appeal the decision and defend their product through the California state court appeals process.

A news release issued by Bayer Group, Aug. 16, on the completion of Monsanto’s integration into the company and divestment of certain Bayer Crop Science businesses to BASF as part of the deal, addresses the verdict, saying, “As regards the glyphosate verdict in California on Aug. 10, 2018, Bayer believes that the jury’s decision is at odds with the weight of scientific evidence, decades of real world experience and the conclusions of regulators around the world that all confirm glyphosate is safe and does not cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.” The Germany-based firm who acquired Monsanto adds, “The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently reaffirmed glyphosate does not cause cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and other regulators around the world have also concluded that glyphosate can be used safely.”

Bayer adds that because of DOJ requirements it did not have access to “detailed internal information at Monsanto.”

“The jury’s verdict is just the first step in this case, and it remains subject to post-trial motions in the trial court and to an appeal, as announced by Monsanto. As this case proceeds, Bayer believes courts ultimately will find that Monsanto and glyphosate were not responsible for Mr. Johnson’s illness,” the press release concludes.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Landscape Professionals, Fairfax, Virginia, says it is committed to educating the landscape workforce, customers and the general public about the safe use of lawn and landscape products. It is possible that you may have questions or will receive questions from your employees, customers, the general public or the media regarding this recent jury decision and the safety of Roundup or glyphosate. It provides a list of facts that can be shared with employees and customers as it continues to monitor the outcome of the litigation:

  • Glyphosate is the most commonly used herbicide in the world and has been used safely for more than 40 years by agricultural and landscape professionals to control broadleaf weeds and grasses. It is used in products such as Roundup.
  • Glyphosate is one of the most widely used and effective tool the landscape industry uses to protect green spaces and to control weeds and other invasive species that can exacerbate allergies, spread diseases and cripple landscapes.
  • Researchers have conducted more than 800 scientific studies and reviews validating glyphosate’s safety since it was introduced in the 1970s.
  • In May 2018, a study published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health reaffirmed there is not a statistically significant association between glyphosate use and cancer.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is statutorily mandated under the Federal Insecticide and Fungicide Act to conduct reviews of all approved pesticide and herbicide products. FIFRA provides federal regulation of pesticide distribution, sale and use. Any pesticide registered under FIFRA, including glyphosate, must show that using the product according to specifications will not cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment or to human health.
  • In December 2017, after conducting an extensive registration review of glyphosate the EPA released a draft risk assessment, which concluded that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans, and found no other meaningful risks to human health when the product is used safely and properly, according to label instructions.
  • The EPA’s recent reevaluation of glyphosate was presented to the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP). The SAP provides independent scientific advice to the EPA on health and safety issues related to pesticides. The FIFRA SAP is comprised of biologists, statisticians, toxicologists and other experts. The independent SAP agreed with EPA’s risk assessments and conclusions that glyphosate is not likely carcinogenic.
  • Roundup and many other products containing glyphosate are currently registered and approved by the EPA and all 50 states lead pesticide regulatory agencies and remain legal to use when used in a manner consistent with label instructions.
  • During the evaluation of glyphosate EPA worked closely with their Canadian counterpart Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) in concluding that glyphosate is unlikely to be carcinogenic or cause unreasonable risks to humans when used in according to label instructions. Other regulatory authorities around the globe in Europe, Japan, Korea and Australia, have also consistently reaffirmed that glyphosate is not carcinogenic.
  • In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. However, the IARC is not a regulatory agency and did not conduct independent studies before making this designation. Follow-up investigative reports of this designation found that IARC concealed important scientific data and edited conclusions from key studies of glyphosate.

“Ensuring the safety, health and well-being of our members, their employees, the general public and the environment is the top priority of NALP. Our association fully supports documented research conducted by regulatory bodies and the established framework for the regulation of pesticides in the United States through FIFRA, and we continually and closely monitor for regulatory and research developments. The EPA and the 50-state pesticide lead regulatory agencies are our pesticide regulators and the landscape industry will continue to comply with all federal and state law that is supported by their review process, science, evaluation, decision and enforcement pursuant to FIFRA,” NALP says in a press release.

It adds, it is committed to promoting and ensuring its safe and effective use.