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After jury rules against Monsanto in Roundup lawsuit, a review of the evidence for and against a link between the pesticide and cancer




Bottles of Monsanto's Roundup are seen for sale June 19, 2018 at a retail store in Glendale, California.
Bottles of Monsanto's Roundup are seen for sale June 19, 2018 at a retail store in Glendale, California.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

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A jury's $289 million award to a former school groundskeeper who said Monsanto's Roundup left him dying of cancer will bolster thousands of pending cases and open the door for countless people who blame their suffering on the weed killer, the man's lawyers said.

"I'm glad to be here to be able to help in a cause that's way bigger than me," Dewayne Johnson said at a news conference Friday after the verdict was announced. Johnson, 46, alleges that heavy contact with the herbicide caused his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The state Superior Court jury agreed that Roundup contributed to Johnson's cancer and Monsanto should have provided a label warning of the potential health hazard.

Monsanto has denied a link between the active ingredient in Roundup - glyphosate - and cancer, saying hundreds of studies have established that glyphosate is safe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Roundup's active ingredient is safe for people when used in accordance with label directions.

However, the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, classified it as a "probable human carcinogen" in 2015. California added glyphosate to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer. We debate the science. 

With files from the Associated Press.

AirTalk reached out to Monsanto for comment and received this statement from Vice President Scott Partridge:

“We are sympathetic to Mr. Johnson and his family. Today’s decision does not change the fact that more than 800 scientific studies and reviews – and conclusions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and regulatory authorities around the world – support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer, and did not cause Mr. Johnson’s cancer. We will appeal this decision and 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.” 

Guests:

Nathan Donley, senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental advocacy nonprofit, his focus includes the links between exposure to environmental toxicants and cancer; he tweets @Nathan_Donley

David Eastmond, professor and toxicologist at the University of California, Riverside where he studies the toxicity and carcinogenesis of agricultural and environmental chemicals in humans and other mammals; he was a member of a World Health Organization panel in 2016 that looked at whether evidence supports a link between glyphosate (chemical in Roundup) and cancer in humans