Anthony “Jack” McCall was a 69 year-old farmer from Cambria, California who died last year after a painful battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. What made his case perplexing was that he never smoked, kept in shape, and had no history of cancer in his family.
McCall did not use pesticides on his farm in central California — all except the herbicide Roundup, which Monsanto marketed as safe. He routinely sprayed it around the farm and even recommended it to friends, touting its effectiveness and low toxicity.
In September 2015, he was admitted to the hospital with enlarged lymph nodes in his neck. He was diagnosed with aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma. On December 24, McCall had a stroke during chemotherapy and passed away two days later.
The McCall family did not learn about studies linking Roundup and non-Hodgkin lymphoma until after his death. It made sense — the family dog also died of lymphoma. The family immediately stopped using Roundup on their farm and filed suit.
The lawsuit, McCall v. Monsanto, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Case No. 2:16:cv-01609) on March 9.
It is one of about a dozen lawsuits filed in the last six months. Monsanto is accused of selling an “unreasonably dangerous” product, failing to warn about the risk of cancer, and minimizing known risks by claiming that Roundup is no more dangerous than table salt.
The reality is that Monsanto has spent decades aggressively fighting cancer warnings to protect their reputation and $5 billion in yearly sales.
In 1985, the EPA originally classified it as possibly carcinogenic. Just six years later, under pressure from Monsanto, the agency declared it non-carcinogenic.
Their position has become harder to defend in recent years. Three major studies in the United States, Canada, and Sweden found higher rates of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in agricultural workers who were exposed to Roundup.
Those studies led to Roundup being classified as a “probable human carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The McCall lawsuit is particularly interesting in California, where state environmental officials tried to classify Roundup as “known to cause cancer” after the IARC warning. Under state law, Monsanto would then have to provide “clear and reasonable” warnings about cancer to consumers. Monsanto immediately filed a lawsuit in California to keep Roundup off the list.
That lawsuit is pending, but the company may ultimately have to defend itself before a judge and jury. Lawsuits have been filed in California, Florida, Hawaii, and other states by farmers or workers who were exposed to Roundup on the job.
The number of lawsuits is also expected to continue growing for two big reasons. First of all, non-Hodgkin lymphoma is very common. The American Cancer Society estimates about 72,000 new diagnoses this year.
The other big problem for Monsanto is that there could be a lot of people with legal claims. The massive success of Roundup means that millions of agricultural workers have been exposed in the last two decades.
In the 1990s, the popularity of Roundup skyrocketed with the use of “Roundup Ready” crops. Monsanto sold seeds that were genetically engineered to resist the herbicide, meaning farmers could spray entire fields with Roundup. Today, it is sprayed on nearly every acre of corn, soybeans, and cotton grown in the United States.
Source: Huffington Post