Monsanto to appeal $289 million verdict that Roundup caused man's cancer

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto

Monsanto vice president Scott Partridge said hundreds of studies showed the herbicide does not cause cancer and said the company would appeal the verdict to "vigorously defend this product".

Robert F. Kennedy Jnr - an environmental lawyer, son of the late USA senator and a member of Johnson's legal team - hugged Johnson after the verdict.

Following eight weeks of trial proceedings, the San Francisco jury ordered Monsanto to pay US$250 million in punitive damages along with compensatory damages and other costs, bringing the total figure to almost US$290 million.

Glyphosate is the world's most common weedkiller. Monsanto has denied a link between the active ingredient in Roundup - glyphosate - and cancer, saying hundreds of studies have established that glyphosate is safe.

Brent Wisner, a lawyer for Johnson, in a statement said jurors for the first time had seen internal company documents "proving that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and specifically Roundup could cause cancer".

"It is a significant development for any Australians that have been impacted by cancer as a result of Roundup", she said. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria had previously said there's "rather weak" evidence the ingredient causes cancer, but the opinions of three experts linking glyphosate and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma were not "junk science". Johnson's doctors said he is unlikely to live past 2020. Roundup brand herbicide products are arranged for a photograph in Shelbyville, Kentucky. "The company chose corporate profit and greed above humanity". Although not involved in the just-concluded trial, the firm represents more than 100 clients now with similar claims.

The case of school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson was the first lawsuit to go to trial alleging glyphosate causes cancer.

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There is conflicted evidence linking glyphosate and cancer.

Last November 2017 European Union countries voted to renew the licence of glyphosate despite campaigns against it. There is no consensus globally on banning the weedkillers using glyphosate.In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the World Health Organisation's cancer agency, concluded that glyphosate-based weedkiller was "probably carcinogenic to humans".

The verdict drew applause from environmental groups Friday. "We need to urgently change our systems of weed control to stop relying on herbicides", she said. Johnson's attorneys sought and won $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million of the $373 million they wanted in punitive damages.

"I want to thank everybody on the jury from the bottom of my heart", Johnson, 46, said after the verdict. He later made a call on his cellphone.

In an emailed response, the firm said: "While Bayer and Monsanto continue to operate independently, Bayer believes that the jury's verdict is at odds with the weight of scientific evidence that the use of glyphosate is not associated with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma".

Following an eight-week trial, the jury ordered the company to pay $250m in punitive damages together with other costs that brought the total figure to nearly $290m.

"If they fail to mitigate the risk and fail to warn their consumers that it could potentially lead to cancer then they are liable and negligent".

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