Independent scientists and Monsanto experts face off over the science surrounding the world's most widely used herbicide
Plaintiffs in 2,400 lawsuits in the US are suing to hold Monsanto accountable for their cancers, which they believe were caused by exposure to the company's Roundup herbicide. The plaintiffs are seeking financial settlements that could amount to billions of dollars — wiping out the $2.8 billion in revenue that Monsanto expects to make from Roundup this year alone.
Earlier this month in San Francisco, US District Judge Vince Chhabria began the process of deciding whether or not scientific experts in these trials are using sound methods to reach their conclusions, and which experts can be called to testify during the upcoming federal trials.
An article by Pam Strayer in Civil Eats explains the process and quotes some of the scientists who are testifying.
To rule on the validity of the scientists and science, Chhabria heard from the 10 experts whom attorneys brought forward in support of the cancer-victim plaintiffs and of Monsanto in evidence sessions known as Daubert hearings.
Dr Steven N. Goodman, an outside observer who is the Chief of Epidemiology for Health Research and Policy at Stanford School of Medicine, explained, “The judge’s role in a Daubert hearing is to find out if any of the evidence shouldn’t be presented to a jury because it lacks validity."
Plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Baum added, “It’s supposed to keep ‘Ouiji board’ science out of the courtroom."
At the hearings, Monsanto scientists faced off in court against three scientists who had served on the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which in 2015 classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen.
Testifying for the plaintiffs, Dr Charles William Jameson, an animal toxicology expert who before his retirement worked for the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health, explained how scientists consider the weight of the evidence published in peer-reviewed studies. Animal studies come first. If rodent studies show evidence of carcinogenicity, scientists turn to studies of human populations to see if humans in the real world, at real-world exposure levels, are also affected.
Jameson told the court that IARC benefited from what he said was an “extraordinarily high amount of animal study data” on glyphosate and that animal studies consistently showed that glyphosate causes cancer.
Jameson listed a dozen studies showing the replication of different cancers in mice and rats, and stated, “It is my opinion that exposure to glyphosate not only can cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma [in humans], but it is currently doing so, at current exposure levels today.”
Another of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, Dr Chadi Nabhan, an oncologist and medical director for Cardinal Health in Chicago, testified to IARC’s traditionally conservative stance in labelling compounds as carcinogenic.
Nabhan said it is not easy to get IARC to even undertake an analysis in the first place. “You have to prove that there is enough human exposure to get IARC’s interest, and that there’s enough animal data,” he said. During IARC’s 53-year history, he said the group had considered 1,003 compounds and found only 20 percent to be known or probable carcinogens.
Nabhan said, “I firmly believe in the conclusions of the IARC, and that actually makes a huge difference for us as clinicians.” He added that he tells his patients not to use Roundup and glyphosate.
Source: Civil Eats. Read the full article at: