Roundup was a spray weed killer developed and manufactured by Monsanto in the 1970s. First registered for use in Canada in 1976, Roundup is a chemical herbicide that could be used for both personal and commercial purposes. Over the decades, it became one of the most popular and widely used chemical herbicides in the world. It has been used by farmers, professional landscapers, groundskeepers, gardeners, and homeowners for decades.
The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, which is a form of isopropylamine salt. It is a non-selective herbicide, meaning its effectiveness lies in its ability to kill most types of plants. It kills plants by disrupting the enzymatic pathways, thus preventing them from creating critical proteins that are necessary for growth and survival. Its popularity has resulted in billions of pounds of weed killers containing glyphosate being used on everything from large-scale crops to personal home gardens over the years.
In an effort to promote the large-scale use of Roundup in crop fields, Monsanto also developed genetically engineered crops that would allow a farmer to liberally spray the product on their crops without any fear it would damage them. They called these genetically modified crops “Roundup Ready.” These included crops like corn and soybeans.
How Safe Is Glyphosate?
Though created to kill weeds and unwanted plants, questions have long been posed about the safety of glyphosate to humans. A large body of research has indicated that, when used over the course of many years, glyphosate is a probable carcinogenic agent to humans. This chronic exposure may lead to serious illnesses and diseases. Glyphosate use has been linked to several forms of Non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma, including:
- B-cell lymphoma
- T-cell lymphoma
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- Hairy cell lymphoma
These forms of cancer originate in the lymphatic system, which is a part of the immune system. The lymphatic system uses nodes and vessels to move white blood cells contained in lymph throughout the body. These white blood cells help to fight infections.
As early as the 1980s, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may have suspected that glyphosate could be dangerous after researchers began to note the increase in the number of farmers who were being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A 2008 Swedish study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that a person’s risk for developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma doubled after less than a decade’s worth of exposure to products containing glyphosate. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) cited approximately 1,000 studies and concluded that there was a risk of glyphosate cancer in humans.
Research also suggests that glyphosate may impact the environment and pose a threat to various endangered species, pointing specifically to the Monarch butterfly whose population has declined significantly over the last two decades.
The Monsanto Company
Originally founded as a chemical company in 1901 in the United States, Monsanto enjoyed early success in the production of food additives, rubber, and plastics. It didn’t start producing the agricultural chemical products for which it is known today until the 1940s. Even before it began producing Roundup in the 1970s, Monsanto had a long history of manufacturing products that have serious health implications for humans and animals alike.
- In the 1930s, Monsanto purchased Swann Chemical Company who produced Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs were widely used in electrical apparatus. Production was banned in the United States in 1978 after the chemical was linked to cancer in humans and animals. However, because PCBs were so widely used and have such a long lifespan, they are still present in rivers, buildings, and soil even today.
- In the mid-1940s, it started producing the popular herbicide 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), which has been classified by both the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization as a possible carcinogen to humans.
- In the mid-1940s, it started producing DDT, an insecticide used to kill malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. DDT was later banned by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the early 1970s, citing adverse environmental effects to wildlife, along with the potential risks to human health.
- In the 1960s, it produced Agent Orange as a wartime contractor for the United States government.
Monsanto’s pattern of producing dangerous products has resulted in many large lawsuits throughout the company’s life. The class action lawsuit regarding Roundup is only the most recent.
In 2018, Monsanto was purchased by pharmaceutical giant Bayer for over $60 billion.
Class Action Filed Against Monsanto and Bayer by Klein Lawyers
In 2019, Klein Lawyers was hired to file a class action against the manufacturers of Roundup Monsanto and Bayer regarding injuries caused by using Roundup. The proposed class consists of any person who was exposed to Roundup in British Columbia after 1976 and after that exposure developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In the Notice of Civil Claim, the plaintiff states that “Roundup is defective, dangerous to human health, unsuitable for its purpose, and lacked proper warnings as to the dangers associated with its use.” The plaintiff alleges that Roundup causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and that Monsanto and Bayer falsified scientific research to prove it was safe. That lawsuit seeks to obtain relief for the class members including general damages, special damages, punitive damages, pre-judgement interest, declaratory and injunctive relief, statutory damages, and recovery of health care and other costs.
Klein Lawyers is working with a group of law firms in different provinces across Canada who represent Canadians who used Roundup. We have joined forces with these firms to move these lawsuits forward in a coordinated manner. The class may include thousands of Canadians who have been harmed by Roundup. A certification hearing has been set for March 28-30, 2023.
The Honourable Justice A.D. Grace of the Ontario Superior Court will hear the certification application. The certification hearing is an important step in the lawsuit. For a lawsuit to proceed as a class action, the judge must decide that this case is suitable for consolidation as a class action. The judge will consider such factors as: are the claims from class members common, is this the best method to hear these cases or are there better methods such as individual lawsuits. If the judge certifies the case, the lawsuit will move forward as a class action for all class members.
The defendants, Monsanto and Bayer, have denied all of the allegations made in the filed lawsuits, including that Roundup causes cancer. They have promised to “vigorously defend” their products. In a statement, they 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.”
Calls for Bans of Products Containing Glyphosate
A few countries have chosen to ban all products containing glyphosate, and more countries have plans to phase out the product, including Germany who will ban glyphosate-containing products by 2023. Other countries have chosen to implement restrictions on glyphosate including Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, and the Netherlands. Other national governments continue to maintain that glyphosate-containing products, including Roundup, do not cause cancer.
There is no ban yet in Canada for glyphosate-containing products, although some cities and provinces have put restrictions in place.
Many are concerned that Monsanto and Bayer have unduly influenced the decisions of various government entities regarding the safety of Roundup and other glyphosate-containing products. In the class action lawsuit filed by Klein Lawyers it is alleged that the defendants’ embarked on a strategy to discredit the IARC’s 2015 determination that a positive association existed between Roundup exposure and the development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After the IARC’s determination, Monsanto hired Intertek, a testing, inspection, and certification firm in Canada, to coordinate an independent panel of fifteen experts. They published five scientific papers in 2016. The experts and the papers they published all serve to contradict IARC’s determination and establish, instead, that Roundup and glyphosate are safe. These papers were relied upon and even cited in the reports and decisions made by various government entities, including Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency and the European parliament.
Contact Klein Lawyers If You’ve Been Harmed by Roundup Weed Killer
Class action lawsuits seek to help victims of huge corporations like Monsanto and Bayer. Not only do these lawsuits help victims obtain compensation for their injuries, they also serve to hold these entities accountable for their wrongdoing and shine the media spotlight on them.
Klein Lawyers Can Help
Klein Lawyers is recognized as one of the most experienced class action law firms in Canada. David Klein, founder and partner of Klein Lawyers, has been recognized as one of Canada’s top class action lawyers by Lexpert (Canada’s Leading Source of Legal News & Information) and by Best Lawyers in Canada. David and his team have successfully recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for thousands of victims in a wide range of landmark class action lawsuits.
We are a widely respected Canadian law firm that employs over 50 staff members with offices in Vancouver and Toronto, Canada. Our team of dedicated lawyers and legal support staff focuses specifically on class action litigation, and that has allowed us to become one of the most preeminent class action firms in the country. Our experience and passion help victims gain the justice they deserve.
If you or a loved one used Roundup and have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, call Klein Lawyers today. Please contact us via our confidential “Do You Qualify Form” or call (604) 874-7171 for assistance.