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A former coffee bean farmer has filed a lawsuit against Monsanto, alleging that she developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma from Roundup exposure, after repeated use of the popular weedkiller and herbicide over a period of nearly eight years.
The complaint was filed by Christine Sheppard in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on November 5.
According to allegations raised in the lawsuit, Sheppard owned and worked on a coffee farm in Hawaii from 1995 to 2004, during which time she relied on Monsanto’s Roundup to kill weeds.
As a result of exposure to Roundup, Sheppard now indicates that she has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, indicating that the cancer ultimately caused her to sell the farm and move to California, where she is still undergoing treatment and medical monitoring.
Sheppard’s case joins a growing number of similar Roundup lawsuits filed in recent months by individuals throughout the U.S. diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma or other cancers, alleging that Monsanto failed to adequately warn users and the agricultural industry that the chemical glyphosate contained in the weedkiller maybe a human carcinogen.
“For nearly 40 years, farms across the world have used Roundup without knowing of the dangers its use poses. That is because when Monsanto first introduced Roundup, it touted glyphosate as a technological breakthrough: it could kill almost every weed without causing harm either to people or to the environment,” the lawsuit states. “Of course, history has shown that not to be true.”
Roundup is one of the most widely used herbicides, which was introduced by Monsanto in the 1970s.
Concerns About Roundup Exposure Cancer Risk
Concerns about the link between Roundup and cancer risks for farm workers have emerged over this year, after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued a warning in March about the potential human health side effects of Roundup and other gylsphosate herbicides.
One of the forms of cancer frequently associated with glyphosate by the IARC study is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a cancer that attacks the lymphatic system, causing swollen lymph nodes, chest and abdominal pain, respiratory problems, fever, fatigue and weight loss. There are a variety of types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, some less aggressive and easier to treat, while some forms are extremely aggressive, and can lead to death in a matter of months if there is not a quick diagnosis and treatment.
Sheppard’s lawsuit notes that since the IARC revelations, several countries have instituted full bans ore restrictions on the sale of Roundup and other herbicides containing glyphosate. The list of countries includes The Netherlands, France, Bermuda, Sri Lanka and Columbia. A ban is also under consideration in Brazil.
Monsanto has attempted to dismiss the concerns that Roundup is a human carcinogen, maintaining that the IARC’s conclusions were agenda-driven and based on “junk science.” The manufacturer has said it is convening its own independent panel to review the cancer risks of Roundup.
Consumer use of Roundup began to skyrocket in the mid 1990s, after Monsanto introduced genetically engineered crops to withstand treatment with Roundup, killing the weeds and not the crops. Genetically modified crops, like corn and soybean, are branded as being “Roundup Ready.” Some weeds have developed resistance to glyphosate, thus forcing farmers to use higher quantities of Roundup.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimated agricultural use of glyphosate increased drastically from 110 million pounds in 2002, now to more than 283 million pounds in 2012.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in April that it plans to address the safety concerns of glyphosate during the regular EPA safety review hearing occurring soon. Researchers warn pesticides are commonly detected in the air, food and water near areas that have been sprayed.