The second part of one of the trials of the year can begin this Wednesday in San Francisco, in a hearing in which the agrochemical giant Monsanto tries to escape a spectacular judicial compensation. The case, Johnson against Monsanto, could open the door to innumerable lawsuits against the company for the alleged carcinogenic effects of products used in gardening around the world.
On August 10, a popular jury condemned Monsanto to pay more than 289 million dollars (251 million euros) to a 46-year-old man named Dewayne Johnson who suffers from an incurable form of cancer. Johnson suffers from a non-Hodgkin lymphoma that gives him a very short life expectancy. According to Johnson, cancer is caused by the continued use of a common herbicide called Roundup, manufactured by Monsanto. The ruling, apart from the figure, is a dangerous precedent for the firm, acquired by Bayer.
Johnson worked in 2012 in the school district of Benicia, a town northeast of San Francisco. His job was partly to spray pesticides Roundup and Ranger Pro. According to his lawsuit, he contracted the lymphoma after two years of doing this work. The jury considered proven that the pesticide in question was the cause of the lymphoma and that Monsanto did not inform on the packaging of the presence of glyphosate, a component that the judgment considers to cause cancer. It is the first demand of this kind that comes to trial. The case was processed urgently because Johnson may have months to live.
In the appeal, Monsanto claims that the trial must be repeated. First, it alleges irregularities in the procedure. Consider excessive and unfair compensation. It also alleges that the verdict was based on insufficient evidence. All of them are legal causes in California to request the repetition of a trial.
During the trial, Monsanto's lawyer cited decades of studies in which there is no relationship between glyphosate and the type of cancer that Johnson suffers from. Most regulatory bodies, including the European Food Safety Agency, do not consider it dangerous. The conclusion that Monsanto acted in bad faith was based on the fact that the International Center for Cancer Research, a body of the World Health Organization, qualifies glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic".
In California it is mandatory that everything with a carcinogenic component is labeled, which leads to signs warning of carcinogenic products everywhere. Glyphosate has been included in the list recently, but last February another judge stopped the authorities and prevented the company from being obliged to put a warning that causes cancer, arguing that it is not proven and also the majority of organisms internationals reject it.
Monsanto, one of the most controversial companies and with worse reputation in the world, was acquired by the European Bayer only two months before the sentence, in June, for 66,000 million dollars (57,378 millions of euros). Bayer plans to eliminate the Monsanto brand as such, given the very bad global image it has.