The ongoing battle over Bayer’s powerful flagship herbicide Roundup has been thrust into an entirely new kind of spotlight. An ex-player for the Pittsburgh Steelers has filed a lawsuit against the corporation claiming that the product caused him to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Former Steelers running back Merril Hoge was first exposed to Roundup in 1977 when he was working on an Idaho potato farm. Details on the extent or length of Hoge’s exposure are scarce, however, agricultural exposure can be some of the most significant when working with herbicides. Like so many with high levels of exposure to glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup – Hoge then went on to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was diagnosed in 2003.
Bayer acquired Roundup’s original developer Monsanto last year in a deal valued at some $63 billion. However, subsequent lawsuits have attributed Roundup; a major revenue source for Monsanto, to the eventual development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In fact, well over 11,000 plaintiffs now have cases pending in courts across the country attributing their development of the disease to Roundup exposure. To date, Bayer has failed to successfully defend itself in any of the three major court cases brought against it as juries have issued verdicts against the corporation stretching into the billions of dollars.
Those verdicts have been reduced in later findings by the judges overseeing the matters. However, it is noteworthy that not a single verdict against Bayer has been overturned. Judges are, in effect, upholding that while the verdict amounts themselves may not be in accordance with current legal and constitutional standards, the juries’ findings of Bayer and Monsanto’s culpability in causing the cancer are valid.
To date, names like Dewayne “Lee” Johnson and Edwin Hardeman are mostly known only to those who are closely following the Roundup matter. While some may note an increase in the amount of Roundup marketing currently being seen, it is mostly a subconscious acknowledgement and easily dismissed as a function of the current season rather than a PR push. However, an accusation of harm from a prominent former football player may elevate the public’s awareness of the dangers of Roundup exposure to entirely new levels.