Class Action Lawsuit Over Roundup Human Health Risks Amended
A federal judge has allowed an amended complaint to be filed in a class action lawsuit over Roundup, after Monsanto attempted to have the case dismissed.
The amended Roundup class action complaint (PDF) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on November 13, accusing Monsanto of engaging in deceptive advertising for Roundup, due to claims made that glyphosate contained in the weedkiller does not affect the human body.
According to the lawsuit, Monsanto has provided “blatantly false” and inherently misleading information about the potential human health risks of Roundup, suggesting that glyphosate targets an enzyme found only in plants, not in people.
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The complaint was filed by eight plaintiffs from New York, seeking class action status to include other New York consumers who were exposed to Roundup and suffered various health problems, including cancer, birth defects, Alzheimer’s disease, endocrine disruption, autism, heart disease, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, kidney disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism and liver disease.
At issue is a statement found on all Roundup labels that reads: “Glyphosate targets an enzyme found in plants but not in people or pets.” Plaintiffs maintain that statement is false, and the allegations come amid increasing concerns about the potential side effects of Roundup exposure.
“Produced within our bodies, the targeted enzyme is in fact ‘found in people’ — in our gut bacteria,” the lawsuit states. “Because the enzyme that glyphosate targets is indeed found in people, in our gut bacteria, it is therefore objectively false (and inherently misleading) for Defendant to claim that glyphosate targets an enzyme not found in people.”
In July, Monsanto sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, claiming that the allegations equated to a label change preempted by federal law, since the FDA approved the warning label. However, plaintiffs argued that the statements were a Monsanto marketing slogan and advertising tactic, not part of the actual warning label.
Following a hearing last month, U.S. District Judge Joan M. Azrack allowed the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint, which may negate some of Monsanto’s arguments.
Roundup Cancer Lawsuits
The case comes as Monsanto faces a growing number of Roundup lawsuits filed on behalf of farmers and other individuals exposed to large amounts of the weedkiller, whom allege it caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma or other cancers. Those complaints allege that Monsanto failed to adequately warn consumers and the agricultural industry that glyphosate may be a human carcinogen.
Roundup is one of the most widely used herbicides, which was introduced by Monsanto in the 1970s. However, concerns have emerged in recent months about the safety of the product, 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.
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.
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