A groundskeeper in California may be poised to shine a brighter light on Monsanto’s operations than the company has ever faced thanks to a judge’s order that removed a key element of the corporation’s veil of secrecy. The victim’s lawsuit not only seeks to prove that the glyphosate found in Roundup caused his cancer but also that Monsanto has known about the dangers of glyphosate for decades and continued to sell and market it anyway. In fact, the company may have even sought to sway scientific and regulatory conversations in its favor by intentionally suppressing the release of information that could have saved lives.
The opportunity to dive deeper than ever before into Monsanto’s inner workings is due to a judge’s order that opens the scope of the trial beyond just the scientific evidence that relates to glyphosate and its effects on the human body. Previous lawsuits have been limited purely to what the evidence has suggested about glyphosate, and not how that evidence was gathered or who was interpreting it. To put it another way, when it comes to glyphosate, the old adage of “remembering to consider the source” has never really and truly applied.
This has been a cornerstone of Monsanto’s defense. The company has asserted time and time again that glyphosate is safe and cites various scientific records to validate its point, including findings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. However, Monsanto is known to go to great lengths to shape the conversations around findings regarding its products and the degree to which these findings have been influenced by Monsanto’s omissions, lobbying, or other interferences is difficult to determine.
That could all change with the introduction of what 46-year old groundskeeper DeWayne Johnson’s attorney says is internal Monsanto communication about the safety of glyphosate. “The internal correspondence noted by Johnson [the plaintiff] could support a jury finding that Monsanto has long been aware of the risk that its glyphosate-based herbicides are carcinogenic…but has continuously sought to influence the scientific literature to prevent its internal concerns from reaching the public sphere and to bolster its defenses in products liability actions,” writes the judge in the case who ordered the evidence’s inclusion. “Thus there are triable issues of material fact.”
Johnson’s case, if successful, could alter the course of history for one of industry’s most secretive – and profitable – corporations and open it up to a litany of new claims for not only compensatory, but also punitive damages. Monsanto currently faces 4,000 lawsuits alleging that Roundup caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma to develop in the victim or a victim’s loved one.
Johnson’s lawyer feels confident in the matter. “We look forward to exposing how Monsanto hid the risk of cancer and polluted the science,” he said. “Monsanto does not want the truth about Roundup and cancer to become public.”
It’s quite certain that thousands of families across the country would like nothing more than to see exactly that outcome.