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Roundup Causes Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Scientist Says in Federal Court

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Photo credit: Tori Rector, Creative Commons

It’s been an eventful week in federal court in San Francisco as expert witnesses face off on the science surrounding glyphosate, the key active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller.

The outcome of the hearing, determined by U.S. Judge Vince Chhabria, will establish whether farmers and their families can proceed with legal action against Monsanto Co. over cancer concerns.

Live reporting from Carey Gillam of U.S. Right to Know sheds light on some of the latest developments unfolding in the courtroom, including testimony from toxicology expert, former government scientist and plaintiffs’ expert witness, Dr. Charles William Jameson, Ph.D.

“To a reasonable degree of scientific certainly,” it’s clear that glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides likely cause cancer in humans, particularly non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), at real-world exposures including the levels farmworkers and others face when using the weedkiller, said Jameson in court on March 7.

Jameson reiterated that there’s credible evidence that glyphosate causes cancer, adding that oxidative stress caused by glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides is a known link to NHL.

Jameson’s testimony sparked early objections from Monsanto attorneys; however, Judge Chhabria twice overruled those objections, reports Gillam.

Monsanto proceeded by sending in its “big dog” attorney Joe Hollingsworth to cross examine Jameson, who was part of the team of scientists analyzing research on glyphosate under the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which ultimately determined the weedkiller to be a probable human carcinogen.

Gillam reports:

“Hollingsworth launched his cross by pressing Jameson about distinctions between hazard and risk assessments, and comments Jameson made in a deposition.

“The judge admonished Hollingsworth and suggested that rather than continuously asking Jameson about what he said in a deposition, the attorney should ask him about what he actually thinks.

“‘Why don't you ask [his] about his opinion now,’ the judge told Hollingsworth. ‘That's normally how we do it,’ the judge said.”

Hollingsworth continued to press Jameson about comments he made in a deposition, prompting Jameson to state that he was misquoted and that his words were repeatedly taken out of context.

When Monsanto’s attorney pressed on, Judge Chhabria interrupted, ordering Hollingsworth to provide the full transcript of the deposition, including the page number containing Jameson’s comment.

Hollingsworth was ultimately ordered “to read aloud two pages of deposition testimony supporting the expertise of plaintiffs’ expert Jameson,” reports Gillam.

The judge seemingly grew irritated with Hollingsworth’s style of questioning, Gillam observed, adding that “Judge Vince Chhabria repeatedly admonished Monsanto lead attorney Joe Hollingsworth over his tactics in cross examining Jameson.”

After Hollingsworth ended his cross examination of Jameson, Jameson turned to the judge and said: “Thank you for the honor, your honor.”

Two more days of court testimony remain. While it’s unclear when Judge Chhabria will rule, our sources say that there will be an oral argument a week or so after the hearing and then Judge Chhabria will take things under submission and likely write up an order sometime over the next three to four weeks.

Want a front row seat at the hearing? You can follow journalist and author Carey Gillam of U.S. Right to Know who is live blogging and tweeting from the San Francisco courthouse.

There are more than 365 lawsuits pending against Monsanto in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. These lawsuits have been filed by people alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop NHL, and that Monsanto knew the risks.

Julie Wilson is communications associate at Organic Consumers Association. To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

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