Roundup Exposure Lawsuit Filed Over Splenic Marginal Zone Lymphoma Diagnosis

  • Written by: Irvin Jackson

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As a result of exposure to Roundup, Monsanto’s popular weed killer, a Virginia man indicates he developed a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, known as splenic marginal zone lymphoma, which attacks the spleen and bone marrow. 

Michael Dowling filed a product liability lawsuit (PDF) against Monsanto in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri earlier this month, alleging that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn about the risks associated with exposure to glyphosate and surfactant polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA) contained in Roundup.

Dowling indicates that he began using Roundup in the mid-1980s, and sprayed the weedkiller on a regular and consistent basis for years before his non-Hodgkins lymphoma diagnosis.

Splenic marginal zone lymphoma is a type of B-cell lymphoma associated with Roundup exposure, which attacks the spleen, bone marrow and other organs. It is extremely rare, accounting for only about 1% of all cases of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. When contained to the spleen, it can be successfully sent into remission through the removal of the spleen. However, it can also sometimes be successfully treated through the use of the cancer drug Rituxan without spleen removal.

According to the complaint, Dowling indicates that he was unaware of the link between Roundup and cancer until last year, when the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that glyphosate contained in Roundup is likely a cancer-causing agent. In particular, the IARC report linked the side effects of Roundup to an increased risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

The case joins a growing number of Roundup lawsuits filed against Monsanto by farmers, landscapers, agricultural workers and others exposed to the weedkiller throughout the United States. Each of the plaintiffs raise similar allegations, indicate that their diagnosis with various forms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) was due to the manufacturer’s reckless promotion of Roundup, which pushed greater and greater use of the chemical, without disclosing the potential health risks or providing sufficient safety instructions to minimize exposure.

Monsanto has denied that there is a link between Roundup and lymphona, calling the IARC’s findings “junk science.”

“Notwithstanding Defendant’s representations, scientific evidence has established a clear association between glyphosate and genotoxicity, inflammation, and an increased risk of many cancers, including, but not limited to, NHL, Multiple Myeloma, and soft tissue sarcoma,” the lawsuit filed by Dowling states. “Despite the IARC’s classification of glyphosate as a class 2A probable carcinogen, Defendant continues to maintain that glyphosate and/or Roundup is safe, noncarcinogenic, non-genotoxic, and falsely warrant to users and the general public that independent experts and regulatory agencies agree that there is no evidence of carcinogenicity or genotoxicity in glyphosate and Roundup.”

A recent U.S. Geological Survey on glyphosate usage nationwide found that an estimated 2.6 billion pounds of the herbicide has been sprayed on America’s agricultural land over the two decades since the mid-1990s, when Monsanto introduced “Roundup Ready” crops that are designed to survive being sprayed with glyphosate, killing the weeds but not the crops.

The lawsuits over Roundup allege that plaintiffs may have avoided a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or other cancers if they had been warned about the Roundup risks for farmers, landscapers and others in the agricultural industry, as safety precautions could have been taken or other products could have been used to control the growth of weeds.

Dowling’s lawsuit will be consolidated with all other Roundup cases pending in the federal court system, which are centralized before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings. Following coordinated proceedings before Judge Chhabria, if Roundup settlements or another resolution for the cases are not reached, each individual complaint may be remanded back to the federal courts where it was originally filed for an individual trial date.

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Photo Courtesy of Mike Mozart via Flickr Creative Commons


  1. Kim Reply

    Since owning a home in 1985 I have used Roundup weed killer every spring and summer to control weeds. I developed NHL in 2009. I was treated with chemo therapy. Up to 2009 I was a completely healthy person, with no health issues.

  2. Pat Reply

    What about the same chemical being in Roundup as is in Agent Orange??????

  3. Mame Reply

    in re: to Agent Orange comment, same thing. Only it was Hodgkin’s Disease that the story was about and….Agent Orange is mfg’d by Monsanto and Dow.
    It is also destroying bee populations.

  4. John Q Reply

    Funny I have used this for about 35 or so years and had it run down my back from back sprayers and absorb into my hands and spray in my face each and every summer both at home and over and over again and again at work and NEVER got sick from it. Person most likely got Lymphoma from Smoking or second hand smoke or another way. I have had Many co workers use this stuff and they NEVER had ANY ill effects either.

  5. karen Reply

    B cell lymphoma had my spleen removed. Live 50 feet from farm feilds that has used roundup

  6. Diana Reply

    In reference to John’s comment about his good health in spite of his Round Up use, never say never. My father used Round Up in a similar manner for a similar length of time. His health was exceptionally good his entire life. He thought he had a cracked rib, it was mantle cell lymphoma. Eight months later he died.

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