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Roundup's Active Ingredient Facing Wave of Legal Challenges as Alleged Carcinogen

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s marquee product, Roundup, is coming under fire from hundreds of legal challenges across the U.S., with individuals alleging that the herbicide is carcinogenic and linked to cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Whether the cases pay out for plaintiffs remains to be seen. But at the very least, they represent a big opportunity for litigators, with some thinking “glyphosate” could become a legal buzzword on par with asbestos.

“They certainly do see these Roundup cases as following the trajectories of asbestos, PCBs, and tobacco,” said Carey Gillam, a director of the consumer group U.S. Right to Know, who is following the cases and has researched Monsanto for years. “They see thousands and thousands of potential plaintiffs, not just in the U.S., but around the world.”

Litigators working on the cases say the basis for the allegations is a 2015 report issued by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer that concluded “there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity” associating glyphosate with lymphoma, the cancer of the immune system.

“When IARC says something is carcinogenic, it’s generally carcinogenic,” said Tim Litzenburg, an attorney with The Miller Firm, a Virginia-based law office filing many of the cases. “They’re the authority.”

Between state and federal courts, Litzenburg says hundreds of cases have already been filed in the U.S., but he believes that total will balloon over the coming weeks.

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