Tuesday, August 21, 2018 by Isabelle Z.
Monsanto has made enemies all around the world with its toxic products and dirty business tactics, and now they’re finally having to answer for their misdeeds in courts of law across the planet. The firm has been facing a slew of high-profile lawsuits here in the U.S. filed on behalf of cancer patients who were exposed to their glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, and now they’re set to face a big legal battle in Sri Lanka related to kidney disease deaths.
In an announcement last week, Rajarata University Professor Channa Sudath Jayasumana announced that a group made up of patients, the families of deceased farmers, researchers, and farmers’ organizations would be taking Monsanto and its new owner Bayer, along with other manufacturers of glyphosate-containing herbicides, to the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. At the heart of the legal battle is the connection between herbicides containing glyphosate and a condition known as fatal chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology, or CKDu, which has been responsible for the deaths of 25,000 people in Sri Lanka.
CKDu now affects more than 15 percent of working-aged people in the northern area of Sri Lanka. This amounts to 400,000 patients and 25,000 deaths. In the lawsuit, each of the victims and patients will be requesting the equivalent of $620,000 in damages.
Although the use of glyphosate was banned in the country in 2015, the government partially lifted that ban earlier this year to “help” rubber and tea farmers.
A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research Public Health demonstrated a link between glyphosate and CKDu epidemics in a number of poor farming regions throughout the world. Follow-up research noted a further link between herbicides that contain glyphosate in conjunction with heavy metals and CKDu.
Earlier this month, Monsanto was ordered by a San Francisco jury to pay more than $289 million in damages to a California father and former school grounds keeper suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer affecting white blood cells, that was caused by his exposure to Roundup. Dewayne Johnson had sprayed the herbicide up to 30 times per year on the public school grounds as part of his job.
In that case, it wasn’t just the fact the glyphosate quite likely caused the man’s cancer that made the firm culpable, but also the fact that Monsanto went out of its way to hide scientific evidence that showed glyphosate can cause cancer and instead pretended that glyphosate was no more harmful than salt. They were ordered to shell out $250 million in punitive damages for acting maliciously and recklessly and a further $40 million in actual damages.
Johnson’s lawyers were able to show that Monsanto targeted academics who voiced their concerns about glyphosate’s health risks, presenting secret internal Monsanto documents demonstrating their devious acts.
Monsanto is facing more than 4,000 lawsuits over similar claims, and that could be enough to bankrupt the evil company. The outcome of Johnson’s trial is likely to inspire even more legal action on account of the many people around the world who have been harmed by these products, and the Sri Lankan group behind the kidney disease lawsuit has said that they followed the verdict very closely.
Due to glyphosate’s many dangers, countries around the world have been cracking down on its use. Earlier this month, a federal judge in Brasilia, Brazil, banned new products that contain glyphosate from being registered in the country. In France, the government recently promised that the chemical would be banned for its “main uses” by the year 2021 and for all uses in five years. These are positive moves, but for many people as well as the environment, the damage has already been done.
Sources for this article include: