May 9, 2016 — In what could become a landmark case against Monsanto, the family of a California farmer who died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma says the weed-killer Roundup is responsible.
The case is McCall v. Monsanto (Case No. 2:16:cv-01609) in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
The lawsuit (PDF) was filed on March 9 by the widow of Anthony “Jack” McCall. The family owned and operated a farm in Cambria, California for more than 40 years. During that time, McCall routinely sprayed Roundup and told his friends about its safety and effectiveness.
In September 2015, McCall went to the hospital with an enlarged lymph node in his neck and was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He underwent chemotherapy, but it caused a stroke. He died on December 26.
What made his cancer perplexing was that McCall never smoked, kept in shape, and did not have a family history of cancer. He also never used pesticides on his farm — only the herbicide Roundup. The lawsuit notes that the family dog, Duke, also died of lymphoma.
The size of the litigation is expected to continue growing. About 72,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma every year. Hundreds of thousands of farm-workers have been exposed in the last two decades.
In fact, the popularity of Roundup boomed in the 1990s when Monsanto began selling “Roundup Ready” crops — seeds that were genetically engineered to resist Roundup, which allows farmers to spray it over entire fields.
Monsanto has aggressively fought against cancer warning labels on Roundup, insisting it is no more dangerous than table salt. In California, the company filed a lawsuit after state environmental officials tried to list it as a carcinogen.
While most people probably wouldn’t spray their food with weed-killer, they may be unknowingly eating tiny amounts of it on a daily basis. It was only in February that the FDA announced plans to start testing for Roundup in food.
Last year, an agency of the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Roundup a “probable human carcinogen.” The warnings were based on three major studies in the United States, Canada, and Sweden linking Roundup exposure with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in farm-workers.
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