There is real momentum in the fight against agrochemicals and the companies that peddle them. After a landmark victory in Hawai’i banning the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos in the state, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to do the same—nationwide. The EPA has 60 days to comply.
That same week, we watched on pins and needles as the Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto Company case unfolded in a San Francisco courtroom. Johnson’s lawyers argued that Roundup and Ranger Pro—proprietary mixtures of glyphosate and other toxic ingredients produced by Monsanto (recently bought out by Bayer) —he had used while working as a groundskeeper at a San Francisco Bay Area school was a substantial factor in his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
As the verdict was read in Johnson’s case late on a Friday afternoon, we couldn’t believe our ears. Our Real Food Media team was calling and texting up a storm, reeling from the news that David had defeated Goliath: the jury ruled that the company acted with malice and negligence in failing to warn consumers and awarded the plaintiff $289 million in damages (Bayer shares immediately plunged in value). Read Anna’s reflections on the trial in Civil Eats.
This was the first Roundup cancer lawsuit to proceed to trial. There are around 8,000 other plaintiffs waiting in the wings.
The effects of this historic trial are rippling out in other ways, too: two California cities, Novato and Benicia, have gone Roundup-free and Santa Rosa has banned the use of Roundup in city parks. Following the landmark verdict, Monsanto is also getting renewed attention for its manufacture of other toxic substances, such as Agent Orange, which the company supplied to the US military during the Vietnam War. Vietnam is now demanding compensation from the company for the effects of Agent Orange—including birth defects, cancers, and other deadly diseases from which millions suffer to this day.
To all the activists, movements, frontline communities, and advocacy organizations working to get toxic chemicals banned and justice for those placed in harm’s way, we want to say: Thank you. Your hard work is paying off. Let’s keep the momentum going!
Header image from Sustainable Pulse