An Oakland jury on Monday awarded $2 billion to an elderly married couple claiming they both developed cancer after years of using the weed killer Roundup, which contains glyphosate.
Alva and Alberta Pilliod claim they developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a result of using the herbicide.
Since Monsanto was acquired by Bayer last year, two other plaintiffs received a total of approximately $369 million in damages. There are more than 10,000 other lawsuits facing the company.
During the most recent trial, lawyers revealed internal Monsanto emails that allegedly showed company employees talking about ghostwriting scientific papers and covertly paying front groups to promote the safety of its herbicide.
Attorneys for Bayer claimed the couple has long had health issues and said there was no scientific link between glyphosate and cancer. The World Health Organization has ruled glyphosate “probably” causes cancer. The US EPA, however, says it is not a carcinogen.
On the day of the ruling, Bayer announced that Monsanto kept a list of influential people that includes scientists and journalists whose positions they allegedly planned to use to influence public opinion on the use of pesticides. The names on the list were not immediately available.
“We stand for openness and a fair treatment of all interest groups,” said Bayer in a statement.
Locally, Roundup has been banned in Pasadena since last year. After the Pasadena Weekly reported the controversial herbicide was being sprayed on county property in Northeast Pasadena, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger introduced a motion to ban use of the herbicide for 30 days while county officials studied it and searched for an organic replacement.
A proliferation of TV ads for the product recently hit the airwaves in Southern California on the heels of those two lawsuits. Communities in 13 states have placed restrictions or bans on Roundup.
According to the Department of Agriculture, in 2014 about 240 million pounds of glyphosate were sprayed in the US. As a result of widespread spraying, glyphosate has now been found to contaminate air, water and soil across vast expanses of the country.