A federal USA judge on Tuesday allowed hundreds of lawsuits alleging that Monsanto Co's glyphosate-containing weed-killer Roundup causes cancer to proceed to trial, finding that there was sufficient evidence for a jury to hear the cases.
US District Judge, Vince Chhabria, described the expert testimony as "shaky" but, crucially, ruled that a reasonable jury could conclude - based on findings of three approved experts - that glyphosate can cause cancer in humans.
The plaintiffs will next have to prove Roundup caused cancer in specific people whose cases will be selected for test trials, a phase Chhabria in his Tuesday opinion called a "daunting challenge". The lawsuits by cancer victims and their families say the agrochemical giant long knew about Roundup's cancer risk but failed to warn them.
The outcome of Johnson's case will not affect the hundreds of other lawsuits in state and federal courts, but it may serve as an indicator of how the others might go.More news: Vettel wins British GP in thrilling finish - British Grand Prix 2018
Monsanto contests the allegations and in a statement said it would continue to defend the lawsuits with evidence proving there is "absolutely no connection between glyphosate and cancer".
"The scientific evidence is overwhelming that glyphosate-based products do not cause cancer", stated Monsanto attorney George Lombardi.
Many government regulators have rejected a link between the active ingredient in Roundup and cancer.
Claims against Monsanto received a boost in 2015, when the International Agency for Research on Cancer - part of the World Health Organization - announced that two pesticides, including glyphosate, are "probably carcinogenic to humans".More news: Emmys: Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage Breaks Supporting Actor Nomination Record
Before issuing his ruling, Chhabria spent a week in March hearing dueling testimony from epidemiologists.
This case is a separate one from a class-action suit that involves more than 300 plaintiffs who argue that their exposure to Monsanto's weed killer caused them to also develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Homeowners use it on their lawns and gardens. Monsanto has attacked the worldwide research agency's opinion as an outlier.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says glyphosate is safe for people when used in accordance with label directions.More news: Coast Guard finds body of overboard cruise ship passenger
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