Medicine

Judge: Experts can testify that Roundup linked to cancer

Judge: Experts can testify that Roundup linked to cancer

The decision by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco followed years of litigation and weeks of hearings about the controversial science surrounding the safety of the chemical glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto's top-selling weed-killer.

Up next, Chhabria said, individual plaintiffs will need to present "enough evidence to warrant a jury trial on whether glyphosate caused the National Hockey League [cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma] they developed".

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that expert witnesses can claim in court that Monsanto's Roundup weed killer causes cancer. Meanwhile, Monsanto is facing 5,000 similar court cases nationwide.

There have been conflicting scientific findings on whether glyphosate caused cancer or not.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says glyphosate is safe for people when used in accordance with label directions.

It has since been sold in more than 160 countries. Farmers in California, the most agriculturally productive state in the USA, use it on more than 200 types of crops. Homeowners use it on their lawns and gardens.

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In its defense, Monsanto said the allegations were not true.

"The scientific evidence is overwhelming that Glyphosate-based products do not cause cancer and did not cause Mr. Johnson's cancer", said Monsanto's defense attorney, George Lombardi.

Monsanto is now a unit of Bayer AG (BAYGn.DE), following a $62.5 billion takeover of the US seed major which closed in June. Wisner says a large part of Johnson's job was to spray Roundup - often 50 to 60 gallons at a time. The company notes that cancers "take many years to form", and says Johnson wasn't exposed to Roundup long enough to make a connection between the product and his diagnosis.

Another federal judge presiding over hundreds of lawsuits like Johnson's is deciding whether the claim that Roundup weed killer can cause cancer is supported by good science.

In 2014, Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer that affects white blood cells. Photos of Johnson presented in court showed lesions in his body.