Monsanto to Fight Claims ‘Roundup' Caused Cancer

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By Steven M. Sellers

Oct. 6 — A pair of recently-filed suits alleging Monsanto's Roundup herbicide caused the cancer of two agricultural workers are without merit, the company told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 6 (Fitzgerald v. Monsanto Co., E.D.N.Y., No. 15-cv-05494, complaint filed, 9/22/15; Rubio v. Monsanto Co., C.D. Cal., No. 15-cv-07426, complaint filed, 9/22/15).

Charla Lord, a spokeswoman for Monsanto Co., said the company will fight the allegations.

“We believe that glyphosate is safe for human health when used as labeled,” Lord said in an e-mail. While the company is sympathetic to individuals experiencing health problems, she said, the suits are “without merit.”

“Decades of experience within agriculture and regulatory reviews using the most extensive worldwide human health databases ever compiled on an agricultural product contradict the claims in the suit which will be vigorously defended,” Lord said.

A request for comment by plaintiffs' counsel wasn't successful Oct. 6.

Horticultural assistant Judi Fitzgerald filed suit in the Eastern District of New York, alleging her exposure to glyphosate, an ingredient in the popular herbicide, caused her chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Enrique Rubio filed suit in the Central District of California, alleging his bone cancer stems from years of use and exposure to Roundup at commercial farms from 1986 to 1995.

World Health Organization Report Cited

Fitzgerald and Rubio, both of whom are represented by Weitz & Luxenberg, allege design defect, strict liability, breach of warranty and negligence claims against Monsanto.

Both complaints heavily rely on findings released last March by an arm of the World Health Organization. The International Agency for Research on Cancer linked certain cancers—including Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia and multiple myeloma—to glyphosate exposure.

Monsanto strongly objected to the IARC findings when they were issued, questioning both their accuracy and transparency.

The company contends on its website that the IARC conclusion “conflicts with the overwhelming consensus by regulatory bodies and science organizations around the world, like the U.S. EPA, which have found no evidence of carcinogenicity.”

Fraudulent Laboratory Practices Alleged

But to the plaintiffs, the IARC report “confirms what has been believed for years: that glyphosate is toxic to humans.”

They also allege “scientific fraud” in Monsanto's marketing and sale of Roundup.

An Environmental Protection Agency audit of Bio-Test Laboratories—a firm hired by Monsanto to test the toxicity of Roundup in the 1970s—revealed “routine falsification of data” at the lab invalidating its studies of the Monsanto product, according to the complaints.

Fitzgerald and Rubio also claim the owner of Craven Laboratories—another firm hired by Monsanto in the 1990s—was convicted of fraudulent laboratory practices in the testing of pesticides and herbicides, including Roundup.

Both plaintiffs also contend their claims are backed up by bans of Roundup sales in the Netherlands, France, Bermuda and other countries.

The law offices of Weitz & Luxenberg represent Judi Fitzgerald and Enrique Rubio.

Counsel for Monsanto wasn't available in court records at press time.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven M. Sellers in Washington at ssellers@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hayes at phayes@bna.com

The Fitzgerald complaint is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Fitzgerald_v_Monsanto_Company_Docket_No_215cv05494_EDNY_Sept_22_2

The Rubio complaint is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Enrique_Rubio_v_Monsanto_Company_Docket_No_215cv07426_CD_Cal_Sept

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