Roundup is a brand name for a popular herbicide that has been used by farmers, landscapers, and homeowners for decades to kill weeds and other unwanted plants. The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, which has been the subject of controversy and litigation in recent years. Roundup’s manufacturer, Monsanto (which was acquired by Bayer AG in 2018), has faced numerous lawsuits over the alleged cancer-causing properties of glyphosate.
The controversy over Roundup began in 2015 when the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization, classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” This classification was based on a review of existing scientific literature, which suggested a possible link between glyphosate exposure and an increased risk of cancer. This sparked a wave of lawsuits against Monsanto from individuals who claimed they had developed cancer as a result of using Roundup.
Since then, thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto/Bayer by individuals who claim that they or their loved ones developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer, after being exposed to Roundup. These lawsuits allege that Monsanto knew or should have known that Roundup posed a risk to human health and failed to adequately warn consumers of this risk. Many of the plaintiffs in these lawsuits are farmers, landscapers, or other individuals who have been exposed to glyphosate through their work.
In 2018, a California jury awarded $289 million to a groundskeeper who claimed that his use of Roundup had caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This verdict was later reduced to $78 million on appeal, and the case is currently being appealed further. This was followed by several other large verdicts against Monsanto/Bayer, including a $2 billion verdict in 2019 and a $10 billion settlement in 2020.
In response to these lawsuits, Monsanto/Bayer has vigorously defended the safety of Roundup and glyphosate, pointing to numerous studies that have found no link between glyphosate exposure and cancer. The company also points out that glyphosate has been approved for use by regulatory agencies around the world, including the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has stated that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.
Despite this, the controversy over Roundup and glyphosate continues, with new lawsuits being filed every day. Many environmental and consumer advocacy groups have called for a ban on the use of glyphosate, while others argue that the scientific evidence does not support such a ban. The ultimate resolution of this controversy is likely to be decided by the courts, but in the meantime, the Roundup lawsuits continue to attract widespread attention and debate.