Jury awards $289 million to man who said Roundup gave him cancer

Roundup

A terminally ill man has been awarded $289 million in the first cancer-related trial against agricultural giant Monsanto.

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto at the Superior Court Of California in San Francisco, on August 10, 2018. "I hope it gets the attention that it needs".

The lawsuit is the first to accuse the product of causing cancer, but observers say a Monsanto defeat likely opens the door to thousands of other claims against the company, which was recently acquired by Germany's Bayer.

Monsanto has denied that glyphosate, the key ingredient in both Roundup and Ranger Pro, causes cancer.

The company has already stated that it plans to appeal the verdict, and a Bayer spokesman has told the BBC that glyphosate is safe to use.

In a written statement, the company 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".

"This should send a strong message to the boardroom of Monsanto", Kennedy added.

Jurors found on Friday that the company had acted with "malice" and that its weedkillers contributed "substantially" to Johnson's terminal illness.

An Australian cancer lobby group is urging global chemical giant Monsanto to come clean on any potential links to cancer with one of its popular weed killers following a major lawsuit in the US.

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Johnson was awarded a total of about $39 million in past and future losses, both economic and noneconomic, but it was the $250 million in punitive damages that seemed to take the courtroom's breath away, as a sigh was heard on a video recording when Bolanos made the announcement.

The manufacturer of the weedkiller, Monsanto, has insisted that British consumers are safe to continue using their Roundup products, which are widely sold at DIY stores and used by British farmers.

Mr Johnson used the two products while carrying out the duties of his job, his lawyers said.

However, the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organisation, classified it as a "probable human carcinogen" in 2015. But Partridge said hundreds of scientific studies and government agencies have concluded that its Roundup weed killer doesn't cause cancer.

Dewayne Johnson hugs one of his attorneys after the verdict was read in the case against Monsanto at the Superior Court Of California in San Francisco.

They said he even once contacted Monsanto after developing a rash, and wasn't told of any risk, the AP reported.

A California jury has decided that Monsanto knew about the health hazards of its Roundup weed killer when it was used by 37-year-old Dewayne Johnson. But that issue was sidestepped during the trial, as Johnson's lawyers argued that his cancer was caused by the combination of glyphosate and other chemicals present in Roundup.

"It is a landmark development in terms of the jury fixing responsibility on Monsanto and its negligence and given the discussion around glyphosate and its safety in India", said Kavitha Kuruganti, from the Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA).

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