Jury awards $2b to California couple who say Bayer's Roundup weedkiller gave them cancer

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/05/14/bitter-pill.html

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How could Invisible Hand Main fail us yet again!?

I am starting to lose faith in him…


Comments at the time suggested people were no more likely to associate Bayer with Nazis any more than Volkswagen or Hugo Boss.

Glyphosate has long been suspected of causing harm in humans and other living things, a conclusion supported by Monsanto’s own accidentally exposed internal memoranda.

There’s a good deal of concern regarding whether juries should be out there deciding what is “science”. Hasn’t there already been a story about a jury awarding damages for a completely implausible “vaccine injury”? It’s hard to keep track anymore.


So much this. It’s great, on the one hand, for Monsanto to be dealt a setback, because fuck Monsanto, but it’s the effect of a fundamentally broken system that is hugely destructive of our society. I don’t know what to say, except that a broken clock is right twice a day.


cool now if something could be done about their glyphosate getting into every thing including a lot of organic foo. its even in wild foraged food.https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/the-herbicide-glyphosate-persists-in-wild-edible-plants-b-c-study


There is still scant evidence that glyphosate, in the amounts a normal person would be exposed to it, causes cancer at a higher rate than any other possible carcinogen. Saying “we cannot say X does not cause cancer” is not the same as “X causes cancer”. And even if it does, grilled meat is also a carcinogen. I know, I know, Monsanto! (Dramatic Chipmunk). Science shouldn’t be settled in a courtroom.


Whatever happened to Dr. Donald Huber’s allegations (circa 2001) about Roundup in his letter to Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack?

Those allegations are wide-reaching and serious as a heart attack.

Huber is a Professor Emeritus at Purdue University; his words carry weight.

Excerpt from Huber’s letter to Vilsack:

A team of senior plant and animal scientists have recently brought to my attention the discovery of an electron microscopic pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings. Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn—suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup. This organism appears NEW to science!

This is highly sensitive information that could result in a collapse of U.S. soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies. On the other hand, this new organism may already be responsible for significant harm (see below). My colleagues and I are therefore moving our investigation forward with speed and discretion, and seek assistance from the USDA and other entities to identify the pathogen’s source, prevalence, implications, and remedies.

We are informing the USDA of our findings at this early stage, specifically due to your pending decision regarding approval of RR alfalfa. Naturally, if either the RR gene or Roundup itself is a promoter or co-factor of this pathogen, then such approval could be a calamity. Based on the current evidence, the only reasonable action at this time would be to delay deregulation at least until sufficient data has exonerated the RR system, if it does.

For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist in the professional and military agencies that evaluate and prepare for natural and manmade biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks. Based on this experience, I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In layman’s terms, it should be treated as an emergency.

… This previously unknown organism is only visible under an electron microscope (36,000X), with an approximate size range equal to a medium size virus. It is able to reproduce and appears to be a micro-fungal-like organism. If so, it would be the first such micro-fungus ever identified. There is strong evidence that this infectious agent promotes diseases of both plants and mammals, which is very rare.

[The pathogen] is found in high concentrations in Roundup Ready soybean meal and corn, distillers meal, fermentation feed products, pig stomach contents, and pig and cattle placentas.

… The organism is prolific in plants infected with two pervasive diseases that are driving down yields and farmer income—sudden death syndrome (SDS) in soy, and Goss’ wilt in corn. The pathogen is also found in the fungal causative agent of SDS (Fusarium solani fsp glycines).

… Laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of this organism in a wide variety of livestock that have experienced spontaneous abortions and infertility. Preliminary results from ongoing research have also been able to reproduce abortions in a clinical setting.

Not much in the news since then. Nothing to see here? or something hushed up?


Looks like even a Purdue professor can leap before he looks. Sorry, no conspiracy here, just more bad science.


Hey @doctorow, any update on that whole “Monsanto is engaged on in a conspiracy to kill off all the bees and replace them with patented bees that only pollinate Monsanto crops” whistleblower you credulously retweeted and posted links too?



Say what? That reads like something you’d find in a pamphlet at a 90s gun show.


Agreed, the letter has a semi-lurid tone.

But the guy has credentials and is not joking, and so deserves our attention.

Thanks for the info, this answers my question.


I always found the hate-on for Monsanto weirdly selective. The last glyphosate patent expired almost 20 years ago, and yet it’s always attacks on Round-Up and Monsanto and pretty much never, say, Credit Xtreme and Nufarm or Wipe-Out and Adama.


His credentials ain’t that strong. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, of which he provided none.


That jury award is bullshit and an affront to science and the regulatory process. Unless my brain is failing me more than usual today, every regulatory group, including the Europeans with their precautionary principle fetish, who have received all of the data from glyphosate manufacturers agree that glyphosate isn’t a carcinogen.

Last I recall, the EU was requiring additional research on other ingredients in glyphosate formulations because they’ve given up on finding evidence on calling glyphosate a carcinogen, yet still want to find a way to demonize it.

A Ph.D. Toxicologist with experience in the chemical and food industries.
I do not, nor have I ever worked for Bayer nor Monsanto.


I’m not sure I understand what or whom exactly you would like to be defining science.

The defense ? The prosecutors ? Or perhaps only scientists can define a word for us now ?

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I think the idea is that science is recorded in peer reviewed papers, not courtroom transcripts.

Trial by jury isn’t a commonly recognized component of the scientific method.


Aluminum in vaccines causes that. Proof! Again! But still you won’t listen, sheeple!


Glyphosate works by interfering with a biochemical pathway that plants use but animals don’t, which is why glyphosate is way less toxic to humans than other stuff we’re much less worried about. In other words, as far as herbicides go, glyphosate, when used as directed, is approximately as safe as it gets. This has been studied literally for decades not just by Monsanto, but by universities and licensing bodies all over the world. Abolishing glyphosate altogether would be a really bad idea because pretty much everything we could replace it with is more toxic to humans and worse for the environment. This goes especially for some of the stuff that is used in “organic” agriculture. (Having said that, we’re pretty sure that glyphosate by itself is OK but there’s other stuff specifically in Roundup that might be more iffy.)

The problem with sorting this out in a court of law is that the jury (which will have been carefully selected to be devoid of anybody with even a passing familiarity with test tubes or the scientific method) sees some poor old geezer with cancer on the one side and the epitome of the arch-demonic agro-chemical industry, Monsanto (or Bayer, now), producer of Agent Orange and other vile concoctions, on the other. Who do you think they will find for? “Post hoc ergo propter hoc”, and let the guy have a few million (or billion) $$$, who cares what the science says?


So here’s a stupid question: How does a human deal with a billion-dollar windfall? We hear of people committing suicide or going broke all the time after willing a couple mill in the lottery. This is just a mad amount of money. How does one even grapple with it? Set up a trust? Buy a small country? Just put it in savings? I’m just at a loss.