If you've been following the GMO saga over the years, then you'll be interested in this story shared by Mr. B, for a U.S. District Judge, Vince Chhabria has cleared the way for hundreds of lawsuits against the agribusiness giant, Mon(ster)santo to proceed:
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said evidence that the active ingredient in Roundup - glyphosate - can cause the disease seemed "rather weak." Still, the opinions of three experts linking glyphosate and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma were not "junk science" that should be excluded from a trial, the judge ruled.
The lawsuits say agrochemical giant Monsanto, which makes Roundup, long knew about the cancer risk but failed to warn people. The ruling allows the claims to move forward, though the judge warned it could be a "daunting challenge" to convince him to allow a jury to hear testimony that glyphosate was responsible for individual cancer diagnoses.
Many government regulators have rejected a link between cancer and glyphosate. Monsanto has vehemently denied such a connection, saying hundreds of studies have established that the chemical is safe.
The company is facing hundreds of lawsuits in state and federal courts that claim otherwise. Chhabria is presiding over more than 400 of them.
One has to question whether this is good news, or bad news, for those concerned about the safety of GMOs, and for those concerned about the "practice" of Mon(ster)santo, with a long track record of harsh practice detailed by a number of researchers (see, for example, F. William Engdalh's study, Seeds of Destruction, or Marie-Monique Robin's The World According to Monsanto). For those concerned about the "practice" itself, the news is perhaps good news. But the judge, in clearing the way for the lawsuits to proceed, has already apparently stacked the deck, calling some plaintiff expert witnesses "shaky" and disallowing others.
But I suspect that in the long term, it is good news, and for a very important reason: Mon(ster)santo, as most regular readers here are aware, was recently bought - for cash! - by the German chemicals giant Bayer, forming what I have nicknamed "I.G. Farbensanto." This now means that Bayer will now foot the bill for any potential decisions against it, and the way may be open for much more serious international legal actions. India, for example, whose farmers were also subjected to the typical agribusiness tactics employed by GMO seed companies, has already seen lawsuits, and with the way now clear for American lawsuits, more lawsuits will probably occur in India.
Then there's Europe, where the debate on GMOs has been the other "dirty issue" confronting the Eurocrats in Brussels. Europe is significant, for many of the independent studies on GMOs, not just with respect to the alleged carcinogenic properties of glyphosate, but also more disturbing studies indicating species-crossing of GMO genes, have been conducted there, from France, the UK, to Denmark.
And then there's Africa, where some countries have struggled against the influx of GMOs and the strong-arm tactics of the agribusiness giants. Rest assured, they will follow the cases with interest, and perhaps bring their own suits. And last week I blogged about the growing problem of GMO modified grass that has escaped into the open and is now causing endless problems for Oregon farmers.
So regardless of the outcome of these lawsuits, the bad news for I.G. Farbensanto is, expect more (and you may want to rethink that purchase... perhaps you need to look for a new buyer for your Mon(ster)santo subsidiary before the stocks tumble and the juries come back). The "optics" won't look too good once those African nations start filing their own lawsuits. And big pharma, you might want to watch the situation closely as well, especially with the recent news coming out about the safety of your products... Oh, wait, I forgot, Bayer is big pharma...
See you on the flip side...