My history with RoundUp and my life on the farm
Part 4 of 4
You start with some assumptions and compare them to what you know. There have been three lawsuits in which California juries have awarded damages to plaintiffs whose lawyers have successfully argued that their clients contracted cancer from contact with RoundUp/Glyphosate herbicide. As a result, if you google RoundUp California Lawsuit lawyers there are a gaggle of law-firms with ads soliciting clients to sue Bayer competing for the topline of the search engine. These law firms specialize in ambulance chasing class action suits and they can smell blood in their legal system after one suit resulted in a $2 billion award by a jury against Bayer.
I believe these people have cancer, primarily non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and that they at some point in their lives come into contact with RoundUp herbicide. I have empathy for them and what their families are going through. I am extremely skeptical however that they contracted cancer from glyphosate. The reason for my skepticism is that I cannot imagine anywhere in the world where RoundUp herbicide was used more readily in a carefree manner relative to safety concerns than right here in the farming community around Royal, Iowa.
It was used here first in spray bottles before the genetically modified crops allowed broadcast application. Kids, parents, farmers were much in contact physically with the herbicide when walking soybeans back in the 1970’s and 80’s. This was not just spraying a few dandelions in the backyard…this was mixing gallons of the stuff without gloves or protective gear. The consensus of opinion of the jury that convenes at the Royal coffee shop each morning is that if RoundUp was as harmful as they portray in these lawsuits “they would all be dead.”
There are just no apparent health issues here that are attributable to RoundUp. They think that they are a pretty good real-life test case at the coffee shop. Today most RoundUp is applied by those with commercial applicator licenses. The consensus of Royal, Iowa RoundUp users is that they think that the California lawsuits are expensive BS from talented ambulance chasing lawyers and impressionable juries showing empathy helping cancer victims gain some financial restitution from a rich German company.
They think that the plaintiffs as a class action can eventually get a settlement somewhere in the range of $5 to $10 billion from Bayer and their insurance company. As lawyers can get a third or more of that for their legal services, no wonder you see the constant stream of ads from law-firms on the television letting folks know that if they have non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and ever came into contact with RoundUp, they too could get multi-million-dollar awards. It is working as there are reportedly 13,400 suits pending and still counting.
Google says that about 74,200 people get non-Hodgkin Lymphoma annually. That is the pool that the ambulance chasing lawyers are fishing in. They have a few billion dollars in legal fee incentive. The three successful suits generated awards to plaintiffs initially of $80 million, $289 million, and $1 billion each to a couple. These awards tend to be reduced in appeal as the Supreme Court set precedent that punitive damages should be no more than 9 times actual damages. The award of $80 million was reduced to $25.3 million by a federal judge who called the initial award constitutionally impermissible. A petition for a new trial was rejected.
It is surreal to see RoundUp sold in stores with sales reportedly unaffected as these suits progress. It is also surreal as a company that your product has been tested and approved by the EPA as safe and yet that offers no product liability protection. Health Canada approved RoundUp safety just as the EPA did here. There is a lawsuit pending in Saskatchewan with a farmer leading the class action. Many were skeptical that the verdicts gained in California can be replicated elsewhere. It has something to do with all of the nuts and twigs out there. The next lawsuit here in the U.S. will be in Monsanto’s backyard, in the St. Louis County District Court in August and September. I personally do not think that a change in venue is going to make a difference. There are nuts and twigs everywhere.
In the course of the litigation, plaintiff lawyers argued that Monsanto was in bed with government EPA regulators and manipulated the press on RoundUp safety. Of course, they would allege that, feeding into the mistrust of government. They touted WHO testing that glyphosate may be carcinogenic (if they could have proved it, they would have labeled it carcinogenic) and sited private research that it was, which you can get along with anything else off the internet.
The truth is that the link is not confirmed. John Phipps wrote that a new National Cancer Institute study says that cancer rates are falling and 66 percent of cancer cause is random cell mutation. He noted on Ag Webb that people would prefer to have something to blame it on. So, RoundUp is very convenient.
Those with the cancer allegedly did use Roundup but represent a small percentage of those with that type of cancer and an infinitesimal small number of people compared to those who have handled glysophate. This generates fear. A subscriber told us, “I was just reading your RoundUp part 1 report. Just wanted to share with you that a local farmer was out spraying his field and a lady nearby came over and stopped him. She wanted to know if he was spraying RoundUp and had a counterpart saying he was going to give her children cancer. Going to say that this is going to get worse.”
RoundUp is a much-needed technology to the ag sector where no one has used it more or is more comfortable with its safety. It has eliminated other products that did have high levels of toxicity and is helping us adapt to climate change as we endeavor to feed the world. It will be sorely missed if it is gone before new technology can replace it.
David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.
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