Bayer Faces Roundup Class-Action Lawsuits in Canada – DTN

©Debra L Ferguson

Bayer’s legal battle on glyphosate has headed north of the border as class-action lawsuits alleging the use of Roundup causes cancer, have been launched in Canada.

The latest was filed on May 24 in Quebec, where dairy farmer Liliane Paquette is seeking $10 million in damages. The lawsuit said she was diagnosed with stage-four chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, in 2005. Paquette is the first plaintiff in the new lawsuit that alleges exposure to glyphosate, although she didn’t spray the product.

In November 2018, Saskatchewan farmer Garry Gadd filed a class-action suit alleging the use of Roundup led to his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014. CBC/ Radio Canada reported fewer than 12 plaintiffs have joined the class action that includes people who have sprayed the product.

Bayer, which purchased Monsanto, recently lost three similar lawsuits in the United States.

Most recently a California jury awarded $2.055 billion in damages to a couple that has battled cancer after decades of using the product. It’s the largest of three awards juries have handed out since Bayer acquired Monsanto last year.

Both Canadian class actions allege the company knew about the potential dangers of glyphosate and didn’t take the proper actions to inform and protect the public.

The latest lawsuit said Paquette was exposed to Roundup while living and working on her dairy from 1997 to 2005.

“Although the Plaintiff did not apply Roundup to the fields (the plaintiff’s ex-boyfriend applied the Roundup), in her work on the farm, the plaintiff frequently handled Roundup and/or came into physical contact with crops that had been sprayed with Roundup,” the lawsuit said.

“The plaintiff was also exposed to Roundup by living on the farm. The fields surrounding the farmhouse were sprayed with Roundup. When the windows of the farmhouse were open, the plaintiff would frequently breathe in Roundup.

“In all of the circumstances of this case, the defendants applied callous and reckless disregard for the health and safety of the plaintiff. The defendants regularly risked the lives of those who used and/or were exposed to their Roundup products, including the plaintiff, with full knowledge of the dangers of these products.”

HEALTH CANADA APPROVAL

In January 2019, Health Canada completed a regulatory review of glyphosate. The agency concluded glyphosate was unlikely to pose a human cancer risk.

In a statement to DTN, Bayer Canada said it continues to stand behind its product.

“While we have great sympathy for the plaintiffs, glyphosate-based herbicides are not the cause of their illnesses and we will vigorously defend our products,” the company said.

“Glyphosate has been extensively studied globally by scientists and regulators, and results from this research confirm it is not carcinogenic. We firmly stand behind the safety of glyphosate-based products and as a company devoted to life sciences, assure Canadians that their health and the environment are our top priority.”

Agricultural crops genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate have greatly expanded the use of the chemistry since 1996. Glyphosate also is used in forestry, urban, lawn and garden applications. Bayer also had glyphosate in its portfolio before acquiring Monsanto.

That broad use has drawn worldwide attention to the herbicide and its safety.

Though glyphosate was developed by Monsanto, it is off patent and sold by many agriculture companies as one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. It came to market in 1974 under Monsanto’s Roundup label for control of perennial and annual weeds in non-crop and industrial areas.

ROUNDUP EXPOSURE

In his lawsuit, Gadd said he was exposed to glyphosate while spraying Roundup with a 400-gallon tank and 40-foot boom. “Mist from the sprayer would get on Gadd as he sprayed which would be common for the class,” the lawsuit said.

Similar to Paquette’s lawsuit, Gadd’s action alleges the company was negligent by not taking “reasonable care” in formulating, manufacturing and testing Roundup. In addition, Gadd alleges the company didn’t promote safe handling, continue to conduct ongoing tests and didn’t communicate health risks associated with Roundup.

In her lawsuit, Paquette alleges the company was not forthcoming about the science related to glyphosate, and alleges Monsanto relied on ghostwritten studies.

“In order to convince consumers, farmers, businesses, and government agencies everywhere that Roundup is safe, the defendants have also relied on ghostwritten studies,” the lawsuit said.

“Since 2000, the defendants have ghostwritten and/or published multiple studies through companies such as Exponent, Inc. and the Canadian firm Intertek Group PLC, minimizing any safety concerns related to Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate. These studies were submitted to and relied upon by the public and government agencies, including the (Health Canada) agency, in assessing the safety of Roundup and glyphosate. Through these ghostwritten studies, the defendants have fraudulently represented that independent experts have concluded that Roundup and glyphosate are safe.

“The defendants have known for decades that they are falsely proclaiming the safety of Roundup and glyphosate. Despite the defendants’ ability and means to investigate, study, and test their Roundup products and to provide adequate warnings of the risks associated with them, the defendants have failed to do so.”

The Paquette lawsuit attempts to create a class that includes residents of Quebec who were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after having used and/or been exposed to Roundup starting in 1976.

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

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