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While French officials remain firm in their intention to ban the herbicide glyphosate, due to concerns about the health risks associated with Roundup and other similar weedkillers, the action will not be enacted until a sufficient Roundup alternative is available for French farmers to use, according to a recent statement.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced last week that a ban on Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers will move forward as planned within three years. However, some French farmers will be allowed to continue to use the controversial weed killer in cases where there is no feasible alternative for their crops, until such time that an alternative is found. The exception is only expected to apply to about 10% of French farmers, Macron noted.
The move to ban Roundup in France comes after a vote last year by member states of the European Union to extend the license to use glyphosate throughout the EU in late November. The vote came in the face of strong opposition, due to concerns that Roundup and glyphosate may increase the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other forms of cancer.
Monsanto, which manufacturers Roundup, faced a December 15 deadline to obtain renewal for the license, or the widely used herbicide would have been banned across the EU. Shortly after the license was renewed, Macron announced France would move forward with the ban anyway in three years.
Concerns over glyphosate came to the forefront in March 2015, when the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared that glyphosate used in Roundup and other weedkillers is a probable carcinogen.
The move sparked world-wide concerns about why Monsanto failed to provide warnings and recommend safety precautions for users, and resulted in hundreds of Roundup lawsuits filed in U.S. courts, each involving similar claims by individuals who say they developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or other forms of cancer following years of Roundup exposure.
The parliament and its environment committee noted that recent events raise questions about whether the EU Food Safety Agency (EFSA) or its chemical agency could be trusted to evaluate glyphosate following the release of documents suggesting they had been influenced by Monsanto.
In early October, all Monsanto lobbyists were banned from contacting EU Members of Parliament or attending committees after the company refused to attend a hearing on whether it had unduly influenced EU officials.
The meeting came after the release of documents, known as the “Monsanto Papers,” which suggest that Monsanto had a very substantial influence over regulators in the U.S. and Europe, and in some cases wrote portions of Roundup safety reviews.
The documents came to light as part of ongoing litigation in the U.S.
Roundup Cancer Lawsuits In the U.S.
Given the similar questions of fact and law presented in lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated pretrial proceedings for all federal Roundup cases in the American federal court system, centralizing the claims before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California to reduce duplicative discovery, prevent conflicting rulings and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
As part of the coordinated MDL proceedings, Judge Chhabria has previously determined that the Roundup litigation will be bifurcated, first addressing general causation about the link between the widely used weedkiller and non-Hodgkins lymphoma during a hearing next month, before addressing case-specific issues about whether Roundup caused cancer for each individual plaintiff.
Following resolution of any motions to dismiss based on general causation, if a Roundup settlement or other resolution for the litigation is not reached during the first phase of discovery, it is expected that Judge Chhabria will establish a bellwether process, where a small group of cases will be prepared for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the lawsuits.