Herbicide Causing Blood Cancers
In July 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a specialized intergovernmental agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), issued a final health assessment of glyphosate — the active chemical in Monsanto Company’s Roundup® herbicide — determining that glyphosate is a Group 2A agent, ”probably carcinogenic to humans.” IARC specifically linked exposure to Roundup to non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and several other blood cancers, including lymphocytic lymphoma / chronic lymphocytic leukemia and B-cell lymphoma.
IARC’s conclusions followed a thorough and exhaustive analysis. Drawing on years of peer-reviewed published studies in scientific literature and publicly available data in government reports, IARC analyzed studies of occupational exposure of farmers and tree nursery workers in the U.S., forestry workers in Canada and Finland, and municipal weed-control workers in the United Kingdom. IARC also examined para-occupational exposure in farming families. The assessment of the IARC Working Group identified several case-control studies of occupational exposure in the U.S., Canada, and Sweden.
Monsanto’s Roundup is currently the largest-selling and most widely used herbicide in the world. Monsanto discovered the herbicidal properties of glyphosate and began marketing Roundup widely in the mid-1970s. Monsanto was the sole manufacturer of glyphosate-based herbicides from 1974 until 2000, when its U.S. patent on glyphosate expired. Monsanto is a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation based in St. Louis, Missouri, and incorporated in Delaware, and the world’s leading producer of glyphosate. As of 2009, Monsanto was also the world’s leading producer of seeds, accounting for 27 percent of the world seed market. The majority of these seeds are of the genetically-engineered Roundup Ready® brand, which are specifically designed to withstand application of Roundup herbicide. Monsanto claims Roundup Ready crops have an advantage over non-genetically modified (non-GMO) seeds because farmers can spray the fields with Roundup even during the growing season without harming the crops. In 2010, an estimated 70 percent of corn and cotton, and 90 percent of soybean, fields in the United States were Roundup Ready. Monsanto, however, fails to disclose that use of and/or exposure to Roundup can cause serious health consequences.
IARC’s pronouncement is significant because it confirms that Roundup is toxic and humans exposed to it run the risk of serious health consequences. Despite IARC’s assessment, Monsanto still maintains today that glyphosate and Roundup do not pose a health hazard to humans. In this light, Monsanto’s public statements are misleading and are potentially endangering human health. Because Monsanto has aggressively promoted Roundup’s safety — even in the face of conflicting evidence — agricultural workers, farm workers, commercial spray applicators, home users, and other individuals who regularly come into contact with Roundup may be disregarding proper safety gear and precautions when handling the herbicide.
After the IARC monograph on glyphosate, there is a solid basis to believe that exposure to Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides may lead to health complications, including blood cancer and other serious illnesses. Exposure can occur in any one of several ways, including inhalation and direct skin contact. The IARC Working Group also found that glyphosate and glyphosate formulations induced DNA and chromosomal damage in human and animal cells in utero, revealing another avenue of exposure for pregnant individuals.
In September and October 2015, individual personal injury lawsuits were filed against Monsanto in California federal district court and Delaware state court on behalf of individuals who developed blood cancers as a result of exposure to Roundup. Several other lawsuits have been filed in federal district court cases across the country and in Missouri state court. The lawsuits allege that clients suffered exposure to Roundup in crop fields, commercial nurseries, at home, and other places. Prior to IARC’s July 2015 evaluation of glyphosate, none of them were, or could have been, aware that exposure to glyphosate and Roundup could cause serious illnesses.
If you have been exposed to glyphosate, Roundup or both, and have developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma or another type of blood cancer, you may be entitled to compensation from the product’s manufacturer. Further, if a member of your family died because of Roundup or other glyphosate-containing products, there might also be compensation for loss of consortium and wrongful death.
We would welcome the opportunity to assist you. For a free consultation and more information about your legal options, please call one of our Southwest Florida law firm offices at 239-334-1146. If you prefer, you may complete our form and a client relations representative will contact you shortly.