A lawyer representing a California man in a case against the agro-chemical giant, Monsanto, told the court Monday that the giant has long worked to "bully scientists" in an attempt to suppress evidence of the cancer risks of its popular weedkiller.
DeWayne Johnson is the first person to take Monsanto to trial over allegations that the chemical sold under the Roundup brand is linked to cancer, with several such legal claims made across the United States.
According to the landmark lawsuit filed by DeWayne Johnson, who worked as a groundskeeper for a school district in Benicia, north of San Francisco extensively applied Monsanto's weedkiller, Roundup as part of his job, and was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in 2014, at age 42.
Photos showing lesions and rashes on Johnson’s skin after using glyphosate are also being used to support his case against Monsanto. According to the Guardian, Johnson's cancer has spread throughout his body. “The simple fact is he’s going to die. It’s just a matter of time," Wisner said in court, the Guardian reported. "Between now and then, it’s just nothing but pain."
Wisner also referred to internal emails from employees talking about the issue. He quoted a product protection lead, Donna Farmer, in an email, part of a strategic corporate policy, “How do we combat this?" referencing a critical study about glyphosate exposure.
Further adding, "You cannot say that Roundup does not cause cancer."
Monsanto which started marketing Roundup in 1974, contains glyphosate, a carcinogen which was recently linked directly to cancer by the World Health Organization's (WHO) cancer agency.
The weedkiller which is registered in 130 countries and approved for use on more than 100 crops has been traced in food, a variety of water sources, and the urine of agricultural workers and others. Many countries have also introduced policies banning and restricting the sale and use of glyphosate citing health concerns.
The lawyer representing the case against Monsanto presented internal emails showing that the agrochemical giant rejected critical research and expert warnings for several years, pursuing favorable analyses of their products. "They fought science," attorney Brent Wisner said, according to the Guardian. "Monsanto has specifically gone out of its way to bully … and to fight independent researchers."
The Monsanto lawyer, George Lombardi, refuted the comments arguing that research carried out over the years was on the chemical giant’s side: "The scientific evidence is overwhelming that glyphosate-based products do not cause cancer and did not cause Mr Johnson’s cancer."