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Glyphosate Update: Jury rules against Monsanto in Hardeman case

Article cover photo
Despite a disappointing verdict in this phase of the trial, Bayer continues to stand behind the safety of its glyphosate products when used as directed, noting that they are a valuable tool for farmers. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Lauren Houska, ISA communications specialist

A California jury ruled against Monsanto Tuesday in favor of plaintiff Mr. Edwin Hardeman who alleges glyphosate is responsible for his non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The ruling was the first in a two-phase trial taking place in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

A statement from Bayer expressed disappoint in the jury's initial decision and remorse for Hardeman. It also stood behind the science confirming glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer.

“We have great sympathy for Mr. Hardeman and his family, but an extensive body of science supports the conclusion that Roundup was not the cause of his cancer,” the company said. “Roundup products and their active ingredient, glyphosate, have been used safely and successfully for over four decades worldwide and are a valuable tool to help farmers deliver crops to markets and practice sustainable farming by reducing soil tillage, soil erosion and carbon emissions.”

Hardeman’s case is the first in a series of similar trials scheduled this year. It will now enter phase two, where the focus will be on the questions of liability and damages.

A verdict in favor of the company in the second phase would mean Bayer would prevail in this trial. Bayer representatives say they’re confident the evidence in phase two of the trial will show that Monsanto’s conduct has been appropriate and that the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman’s cancer.

Regardless of the outcome, the decision in phase one of this trial has no impact on future cases and trials — each one has its own factual and legal circumstances. More than a half dozen glyphosate trials could take place this year, and the litigation will take some time before it reaches closure. The second trial for 2019 is expected to start around March 25 in the Superior Court of the State of California.

Bayer says it stands behind these products and will continue to vigorously defend them, outlining their proved safety in their statement:

“Regulatory authorities around the world consider glyphosate-based herbicides as safe when used as directed. There is an extensive body of research on glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides, including more than 800 rigorous studies submitted to EPA, European and other regulators in connection with the registration process, that confirms that these products are safe when used as directed.

The company references the largest and most recent epidemiologic study – the 2018 independent National Cancer Institute- supported long-term study that followed over 50,000 pesticide applicators for more than 20 years that found no association between glyphosate-based herbicides and cancer.

Additionally, EPA's 2017 post-International Agency for Research on Cancer risk assessment examined more than 100 studies the agency considered relevant and concluded that glyphosate is 'not likely to be carcinogenic to humans,' its most favorable rating.

“As Health Canada noted in a very recent statement, 'no pesticide regulatory authority in the world currently considers glyphosate to be a cancer risk to humans at the levels at which humans are currently exposed.”

More information:
Glyphosate facts: 
More on the Roundup litigation:

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