U.S. jury orders Monsanto to pay $289m in Roundup trial

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto

Homebase is reviewing its range of weedkiller products after a man with terminal cancer successfully sued a manufacturer in the US, Sky News can reveal.

A groundskeeper who developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after using Monsanto's weed-killers for years is entitled to $39 million in compensation and $250 million in punitive damages, a California jury has decided.

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto at the Superior Court Of California in San Francisco, on August 10, 2018.

"This case is way bigger than me", Johnson said during a press conference in his lawyers' San Francisco office after the verdict. Hopefully this thing will start to get the attention it needs.

The groundsman's lawyers said he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2014, having used Roundup and a similar Monsanto product, Ranger Pro, in large quantities while working for a school authority.

Speaking to reporters after the verdict, Monsanto VP Scott Partridge said that the company will appeal and continue to "vigorously defend" the herbicide.

Monsanto denies that glyphosate, the world's most widely used herbicide, causes cancer and says decades of scientific studies have shown the chemical to be safe for human use.

The German company, which owns agriculture giant Monsanto, says herbicides containing glyphosate are safe.

He added that the verdict sent a "message to Monsanto that its years of deception regarding Roundup is over and that they should put consumer safety first over profits".

On Friday, the jury in San Francisco found that Roundup was a "substantial factor" in Mr Johnson's illness and that the company should have provided a label warning of the potential health hazard.

Following eight weeks of trial proceedings, the San Francisco jury ordered Monsanto to pay US$250 million in punitive damages along with compensatory damages and other costs, bringing the total figure to almost US$290 million.

"The jury sent a message to the Monsanto boardroom that they have to change the way they do business", said Robert F. Kennedy Jr - an environmental lawyer, son of the late U.S. senator and a member of Johnson's legal team.

However, the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organisation, classified it as a "probable human carcinogen" in 2015.

The case of school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson was the first lawsuit alleging glyphosate causes cancer to go to trial.

Roundup is one of the country's most popular weedkiller brands, while glyphosate herbicides are the most widely used herbicide in United Kingdom agriculture.

Plaintiff DeWayne Johnson hugs one of his lawyers after hearing the verdict.

However, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is an independent body from the government, continues to assert that the chemical is safe to use if the correct precautions are taken.

They said he even once contacted Monsanto after developing a rash, and wasn't told of any risk, the AP reported.

A Californian jury said Monsanto should have warned users about the dangers of its Roundup and RangerPro weedkillers.

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