by Joseph Mercola
2018, a jury ruled in favor of plaintiff Dewayne
Johnson in a truly historic case against Monsanto.
Johnson claimed Roundup caused his Non-Hodgkin
lymphoma. Monsanto has been ordered to pay $289
million in damages
the ruling, Monsanto "acted with malice or
oppression" and was responsible for "negligent
failure" by not warning consumers about the
carcinogenicity of this pernicious weed killer
documents obtained during the discovery process
reveal the EPA colluded with Monsanto to protect the
company's interests - actually manipulating and
preventing key investigations into glyphosate's
lead trial counsel for Johnson and thousands of
other plaintiffs, discusses some of the most
revelatory pieces of information brought up during
Johnson's trial. Sources are also provided where you
can review these documents for yourself
Monsanto buried an internal report showing
glyphosate genotoxic and then ghostwrote another
report claiming glyphosate is completely safe. This
fabricated "evidence" allowed them to sidestep
toxicity concerns for the next 15 years
On August 10, 2018, a jury ruled in favor of plaintiff Dewayne
Johnson 1,2,3,4,5 in a truly historic case
Johnson - the first of
over 8,000 cases pending against the infamous chemical company which
has since been bought by Bayer AG6,7 - claimed
Monsanto's Roundup caused his
According to the ruling, Monsanto,
"acted with malice or oppression"
and was responsible for "negligent failure" by not warning consumers
about the carcinogenicity of this pernicious weed killer.
Monsanto has been ordered
to pay $289 million in damages to Johnson.
In The Highwire video above, medical journalist Del Bigtree
takes a deep dive into this groundbreaking win, revealing evidence
presented to the jury - email correspondence and corporate documents
that created a comprehensive narrative of corporate malfeasance and
collusion with U.S. regulatory agencies - ultimately leading the
jury to give Johnson a quarter of a billion dollars in damages.
Summary of Monsanto's Battle to Squash Evidence of Carcinogenicity
The beginning of the end for
Monsanto really began in 2015, when the
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer
research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the "gold
standard" in carcinogenicity research, reclassified glyphosate as a,
"probable human carcinogen."
This determination was based on evidence showing the popular weed
killer can cause Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and lung cancer in humans,
along with "convincing evidence" it can cause cancer in animals.
response, Monsanto launched an all-out attack on IARC and its
researchers, and even lobbied to strip IARC of its U.S. funding.
Then, in January 2017, the American Chemistry Council, of which
Monsanto is a member, went on to form a front group called Campaign
for Accuracy in Public Health Research,10 the express purpose of
which is to discredit the IARC and seek to reform the IARC
Monographs Program, which evaluates and determines the
carcinogenicity of chemicals.11
As reported by the Union of
Concerned Scientists on July 11, 2018: 12
"A rider [was added to] the House version of the HHS [Department of
Health and Human Services] appropriations bill that would prevent
the National Institutes of Health from lending any financial support
to IARC unless it agrees to push for reforms at IARC that have been
called for by [industry ally U.S. Rep.] Lamar Smith and the House
Science Committee at the bequest of the chemical industry."
Monsanto Fought - and Lost - Proposition 65 Cancer Warning Label
Following the IARC's determination that glyphosate is probably
carcinogenic to humans in 2015, California's Environmental
Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
(OEHHA) announced it intended to list glyphosate as a chemical known
to cause cancer under Proposition 65, which requires consumer
products with potential cancer-causing ingredients to bear warning
Monsanto filed formal comments with OEHHA saying the plan to list
glyphosate as a carcinogen should be withdrawn.
When OEHHA refused
to cave, Monsanto sued OEHHA in January 2016 to stop the glyphosate/cancer
classification. OEHHA filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and a
Fresno, California, superior court judge ruled on their behalf in
Alas, Monsanto continued filing legal appeals to block the cancer
warning from being implemented.
In its latest attempt, Monsanto
tried to have a provision of the law removed that allows the OEHHA
from taking scientific findings from outside experts - such as the
IARC - into consideration.
Mere days after Johnson's verdict, Monsanto lost against California
yet again. As reported by Sustainable Pulse:13
"This decision leaves in place lower court decisions upholding a
provision of the voter-approved initiative that allows outside
expert scientific findings to be considered when adding chemicals to
the public list of carcinogens…
'Monsanto doesn't have the right to
decide which scientific experts are permitted to inform the public
about cancer-causing chemicals.
By refusing to consider this case, the Supreme Court has allowed
Proposition 65 to keep working the way voters intended when the
initiative was passed in 1986,' said Avinash Kar, senior attorney
with the Natural Resources Defense Council."
This is another piece of good news, as this means California will be
able to require Roundup and other glyphosate-containing products to
bear a cancer warning label, and since companies rarely want to go
through the extra work of making different product labels for
different states, this likely means all Americans will finally be
informed of the fact that Roundup is carcinogenic.
Evidence Shows EPA Colluded With Monsanto to Hide Evidence of
Throughout its legal battles, Monsanto has relied heavily on
evidence by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which,
despite IARC findings, has continued to maintain that glyphosate is
probably not carcinogenic to humans.
However, internal documents obtained during the discovery process of
Johnson's case revealed the EPA colluded with Monsanto to protect
the company's interests - actually manipulating and preventing key
investigations into glyphosate's cancer-causing potential. You can
review key documents from this case on the U.S. Right to Know
A 2017 Spiegel article15 also delves into some of this damning
evidence, which includes correspondence that clearly reveals
Monsanto knew Roundup had safety problems, and in more ways than
"The Monsanto researchers also behaved irresponsibly when it comes
to the question of Roundup's absorption into the body," Spiegel
"In their own animal experiments back in 2002, the company's
experts discovered that 'between 5 and 10 percent' of the substance
penetrated the skin of rats.
The rate was much higher than expected and the result had the
potential to 'blow' the 'Roundup risk evaluations,' reads one email.
As a consequence, the author of the email wrote:
'We decided thus to
STOP the study.'
Laboratory animals also absorbed more Roundup
ingredients through the digestive tract than had been hoped for.
the Monsanto papers show that the experts were very aware
of a fact that is often lost in the public debate: In addition to glyphosate, herbicides like Roundup contain other dangerous
chemicals that are necessary to enable the active ingredient to
penetrate hard plant walls, among other things.
are often more harmful than the active ingredient on its own."
Summary of Johnson's Case
In the featured video, Bigtree interviews Baum Hedlund attorney
Brent Wisner, lead trial counsel for Johnson and thousands of other
plaintiffs who believe their Non-Hodgkin lymphoma - a type of cancer
that starts in your white blood cells (lymphocytes), which are part
of your immune system - was caused by Roundup exposure.
More than 500 of these cases are currently pending in a
multidistrict litigation (MDL) with the U.S. District Court in San
While the MDL procedure is similar to a class-action
suit in that it consolidates pretrial proceedings, each case will
get its own jury trial, and the outcomes will vary depending on the
strength of the evidence in any given case.
Johnson's lawsuit was filed in state court rather than through an
MDL and was granted an expedited trial due to the fact that he's
In California, if the plaintiff dies, no
punitive damages can be awarded, so Johnson agreed to be the first
one to take Monsanto on.
Johnson, a 46-year-old husband and father of two, sprayed an
estimated 150 gallons of Roundup 20 to 40 times per year while
working as a groundskeeper for the Benicia school district in
California, from 2012 through late 2015.20
Johnson was diagnosed with a rare and deadly form of Non-Hodgkin
lymphoma called mycosis fungoides in August 2014. He told his doctor
the rash he'd developed that summer would worsen after exposure to
His lawsuit, filed in 2016 after he became too ill to
work, accused Monsanto of hiding the health hazards of Roundup.
His court case, presided by Superior Court Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos, began June 18, 2018, and ended August 10 with a ruling in
As mentioned, the jury awarded Johnson $289 million in
damages - an amount that effectively wipes out Monsanto's reserve
fund for environmental and litigation liability, which according to
Bloomberg 22 totaled $277 million as of August 2018.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Monsanto's Corporate Culture and Toxic
Wisner is also joined by co-counsel Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has
been an environmental lawyer for 30 years, who commented on
Monsanto's "antidemocratic and antihumanistic" corporate ways,
"We really were up against an industry that has employed all of the
techniques pioneered by the tobacco industry.
Over 60 years, Big Tobacco killed 1 out of every 5 of its customers
who used its products as directed, was able to avoid any kind of
regulatory interference, because it pioneered these techniques of
ghostwriting science, compromising science, corrupting public
officials, capturing the agencies that are supposed to protect
Americans from pollution, and Monsanto really was part of the group
that pioneered those techniques - and also of using ad hominem
Monsanto is the same company that was making DDT and masterminded
and orchestrated the attack on Rachael Carson … [they] tried to
personally destroy her, as she died of cancer.
agent orange, it
led the fight to deny rights and deny compensation to tens of
thousands of American veterans who had been exposed in Vietnam to
this terrible chemical.
I've been suing one of Monsanto's chemicals for 35 years, PCBs,
which Monsanto is the only producer of. It contaminated the Hudson
River. In more recent years, I've brought a series of lawsuits
against Monsanto because of the PCBs put into caulking in American
Half the schools built between 1950 and 1977 have calking
in their windows filled with PCBs.
Monsanto knew PCB was carcinogenic and an endocrine disruptor and
children should never be exposed to it. And it knew PCB was about to
be heavily regulated if it got banned. So, it ordered all of its
sales forces to … [get rid of it by selling] it for caulking for
This is the mentality of a
very corrupt corporate culture."
Trial Counsels Discuss the Evidence Against Monsanto
As noted by Kennedy, until now, Monsanto has had a reputation of
Wisner finally broke the magic spell with his
phenomenal ability to create a comprehensive narrative, showing
exactly how Monsanto has been able to get away with murder, and
producing the evidence needed to support that narrative.
As mentioned, Wisner was able to show corporate correspondence and
documents that clearly discussed Monsanto's inability to prove
Roundup is noncarcinogenic.
In fact, Monsanto toxicologist
Farmer, Ph.D., who in 2016 appeared on the TV show "The Doctors"
defending the safety of Roundup, years earlier had written an email
"The terms glyphosate and Roundup cannot be used interchangeably,
nor can you use 'Roundup' for all glyphosate-based herbicides
For example, you cannot say that Roundup is not a
carcinogen… we have not done the necessary testing on the
formulation to make that statement."
Indeed, as Wisner notes, Roundup is not just glyphosate.
contains a number of surfactants to solubilize it and other
chemicals, and the synergistic action between all of these chemicals
has actually been shown to be far more toxic than glyphosate alone.
This was recently confirmed in tests 23 conducted by the U.S.
National Toxicology Program (NTP).
According to the NTP's summary of
the results, glyphosate formulations significantly alter the
viability of human cells by disrupting the functionality of cell
membranes. In layman's terms, Roundup kills human cells.
Recent research 24,25 by the highly respected Ramazzini Institute in
Italy also reveals daily ingestion of glyphosate at the acceptable
daily dietary exposure level set by the EPA alters sexual
development in rats, produces changes in the intestinal microbiome,
and exhibits genotoxic effects.
Wisner made every effort to get Farmer to testify.
Not only did she
evade being served, when they were finally able to catch her,
Monsanto "fought tooth and nail" to prevent her from taking the
stand. They ultimately won, and Wisner was not able to get her to
Still, email correspondence to and from Farmer was
Success Became Monsanto's Downfall
According to Kennedy and Wisner, the extreme success of Roundup is
ultimately what became its downfall.
Roundup is now the most widely
used agricultural chemical in the history of the world, and its
sheer pervasiveness led to increased scientific investigation. With
that increased scrutiny by independent researchers, more and more
evidence of harm was published.
Secondly, in 2005 Monsanto started recommending the off-label use of
Roundup as a desiccant on non-GMO grains. Essentially, by spraying
Roundup on the grain right before harvest, it dries the grain,
making it easier to harvest and allows the farmer greater profits,
as they're penalized when grain contains moisture.
The greater the
moisture content of the grain at sale, the lower the price they get.
As a result of this successful campaign, farmers began spraying
Roundup directly on food preharvest, whereas previously it was
primarily used as weed control.
This is why we're now finding glyphosate in just about everything - it's been found in every
processed food tested, in air samples, rain samples, municipal water
supplies, soil samples, breast milk and urine.
According to Bigtree, two recent studies even revealed the presence
of glyphosate in several vaccines, including,
MMR vaccine had the highest amounts at 0.8 parts of glyphosate per billion.
Ironically, one of Farmer's talking points during her appearance on
"The Doctors" was that IARC was looking at the effects of injected
glyphosate, which is not how it's used.
Yet now we're finding
vaccines are contaminated with glyphosate, and is in fact injected
directly into the body of young children.
Kennedy notes the majority of glyphosate used since its inception
has actually been used in the last five years alone. And, as
contamination has been detected, concern about its safety has been
These factors are ultimately what allowed
Wisner to present such a compelling case against Monsanto.
Public Health Impact of Roundup
is Likely to Be Enormous
Keep in mind that Johnson's case is just the beginning.
the law firm of
Baum Hedlund is receiving calls from people asking
if their cancer might have been caused by Roundup exposure, Kennedy
Many are farmers, but many are also avid gardeners and people
who have used the chemical extensively around their private
Eventually, he believes other disease categories may be added to the
growing mountain of lawsuits against Monsanto.
Aside from the over
8,000 cases of plaintiffs with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the evidence
also suggests glyphosate and/or Roundup may be linked to liver
cancer (which is now occurring in children), brain tumors and health
problems associated with endocrine disruption.
Indeed, aside from its carcinogenic potential, independent research
has connected glyphosate-based herbicides with a growing list of
disturbing health and environmental effects.
For example, glyphosate
has been shown to:
body's ability to produce fully functioning proteins
shikimate pathway (found in gut bacteria)
the function of cytochrome P450 enzymes (required for
activation of vitamin D and the creation of nitric oxide and
synthesis and transport
the synthesis of aromatic amino acids and methionine,
resulting in folate and neurotransmitter shortages
Disrupt the human
and animal gut microbiome by acting as an antibiotic
Destroy the gut
lining, which can lead to symptoms of gluten intolerance
release of thyroid stimulating hormone, which can lead to
Shocking Evidence of Ghostwriting Revealed During Johnson's Trial
In their interview, Bigtree and Wisner discuss some of the most
revelatory pieces of information brought up during Johnson's trial.
As mentioned earlier, you can review many of these so-called
Papers" on the U.S. Right to Know website.28
You can also read "Spinning Science & Silencing Scientists
- A Case
Study in How the Chemical Industry Attempts to Influence Science,"
a minority staff report dated February 2018, prepared for U.S. House
members of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
For example, in a November 1, 2015, email, William Heydens, safety
lead for Monsanto, writes to John Acquavella, a former employee:
thought we discussed previously that it was decided by our
management that we would not be able to use you or Larry [Kier] as
panelists/authors because of your prior employment at Monsanto …" to
which Acquavella responds, "We call that ghostwriting and it is
According to Wisner, after IARC published its findings on glyphosate,
Monsanto "orchestrated a public outcry" by convening a "panel of
independent experts" who reviewed the data and published an analysis
of the evidence.
"The problem was, they were written by Monsanto
employees and former employees," Wisner says.
In the email exchange above, Heydens wanted to remove Acquavella's
name from the report so that people would not know he was part of
it, and Acquavella was reminding him that this strategy, which is
known as ghostwriting, is unethical, and that they could not do
In the end, the report did list Acquavella as an author, but it
specifically states that Monsanto had no influence over the report
and did not write any part of it. Yet email correspondence shows
Heydens actively writing and editing it.
All of this evidence was
shown to the jury, and these outright lies are ultimately what
prompted them to award punitive damages totaling a quarter of a
In "The Monsanto Papers: Poisoning the Scientific Well,"
30 a paper
published in The International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine,
June 2018, Leemon McHenry writes:
"The documents reveal Monsanto-sponsored ghostwriting of articles
published in toxicology journals and the lay media, interference in
the peer review process, behind-the-scenes influence on retraction
and the creation of a so-called academic website as a front for the
defense of Monsanto products …
The use of third-party academics in the corporate defense of
glyphosate reveals that this practice extends beyond the corruption
of medicine and persists in spite of efforts to enforce transparency
in industry manipulation."
The Parry Report
As mentioned, correspondence by Farmer reveals Monsanto had
actually conducted any carcinogenicity or safety studies on the
In 1999, Dr. James Parry, a geneticist at
Swansea University at the time (he died a year later), was hired by
Monsanto to evaluate the genotoxic potential of glyphosate.
After reviewing the available research, Parry found that,
is capable of producing genotoxicity both in vivo and in vitro by a
mechanism based upon the production of oxidative damage."
report, known as The Parry Report, he also noted that:
"On the basis
of the study of Lioi et al… I conclude that glyphosate is a
potential clastogenic," meaning a mutagenic agent that can break,
delete, add or rearrange chromosomes.
In other words, Monsanto's own expert was telling them they had a
Parry noted that the real danger appears to be the
synergistic effect between glyphosate and other chemicals in the
formula, such as the surfactants, and he told the company they had
to study the formulated product as a whole.
He also listed specific
types of studies he felt needed to be done.
Internal email correspondence reveals other Monsanto scientists
discussed ways in which they might be able to "move Dr. Parry from
his position" that glyphosate was toxic.
Parry, who had signed a
secrecy agreement with the company, never published these findings.
What did Monsanto do...?
They avoided the toxicity issues simply by never doing any of the
research on the formulation.
A September 16, 1999, email from Heydens, himself a Ph.D. toxicologist, reads in part:
"We want to find/develop someone who is comfortable with the genotox
profile of glyphosate/Roundup and who can be influential with
regulators and Scientific Outreach operations when genotox issues
My read is that Parry is not currently such a person, and it
would take quite some time and $$$/studies to get him there. We
simply aren't going to do the studies Parry suggests…"
The Williams, Kroes and Munro Report
What's more, Monsanto buried The Parry Report.
Regulators were never
informed of its contents. Shortly after The Parry Report was
concluded, another report was published, called the Williams, Kroes
and Munro Report, which was supposed to be a comprehensive review of
the genotoxic profile of glyphosate.
It found no problems at all,
concluding glyphosate is 'completely safe'...
Guess which report was sent off to regulators and used by the EPA to
support its conclusion that glyphosate is nontoxic?
You guessed it:
The Williams, Kroes and Munro Report, issued in 2000.
Wisner stressed to the jury that all of this is clear evidence of
malice. It proves the company had a conscious disregard for human
The Williams, Kroes and Munro Report also appears to have been of
Monsanto's own making.
In an email to Farmer dated February 19,
2015, Heydens writes:
"A less expensive/more palatable approach might be to involve
experts only for the areas of contention, epidemiology and possibly
MOA [mode of action] (depending on what comes out of the IARC
meeting), and we ghostwrite the exposure tox & genotox sections.
An option would be to add Greim and Kier or Kirkland to have their
names on the publication, but we would be keeping the cost down by
us doing the writing and they would just edit and sign their names
so to speak.
Recall that is how we handled Williams, Kroes & Munro,
As noted by Wisner, not only did Monsanto
bury The Parry Report,
which revealed they had a serious health problem on their hands,
they ghostwrote a report that claimed the complete opposite.
fabricated "evidence" allowed them to sidestep toxicity concerns for
the next 15 years.
"That is fraud… That's evil," Wisner says.
jury obviously agreed.
Science Clearly Demonstrates Glyphosate Is Carcinogenic
"I'm 34 years old. I will try these cases until I'm 90 if I have
to," Wisner says.
"If I have to put Bayer in bankruptcy, I will. We
have the goods here, and it just shows rampant corporate
Monsanto, meanwhile, insists there are 800 studies
produced over the last 40 years showing glyphosate and Roundup is
"It's garbage," Wisner says.
"The 800 studies they're talking about
are not about whether it causes cancer. They're looking at stuff
that you have to look at - does it cause eye irritation, does it
cause your hair to change color, does it cause skin rashes - all
these volumes of tests that test all these random things…
But when it comes to cancer, there's only been about 13 animal
studies and about six or seven epidemiology studies. And when you
actually look at the data, actually look at the science, and I
showed this jury every single one of those studies.
I walked through them one by one… and with the exception of two or
three, they are positive… They show clear correlation. They show
that glyphosate causes tumors… creates tumors in mice, that it's
causing Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in humans …"
One particularly powerful study showed that when people are exposed
to Roundup via skin contact (the individuals in this study had been
doused with Roundup via aerial sprayings), there's clear evidence of
Every single person that had been exposed to the
aerial spray showed evidence off this genetic damage.
Bayer Bought a Nightmare
Clearly, Bayer has purchased a nightmare, and may be suffering some
buyer's remorse right about now.
Indeed, virtually every single
person on the planet is now ingesting and being injected or in some
way is exposed to Roundup, and the evidence of serious health
consequences just keeps growing. The liability is almost beyond
Time will tell whether Monsanto's toxic legacy will
put Bayer out of business.
In the meantime, it's up to each of us to take whatever precautions
we can to avoid exposure. That includes avoiding using Roundup and
other glyphosate-based herbicides at home, convincing local
companies to stop using it in public areas and around schools, and
by buying organic foods whenever possible and taking steps to
detoxify our bodies.
Wisner brings up more evidence presented in court, and I highly
recommend watching the interview in its entirety.
evidence, it's really no wonder Wisner won this case, and it surely
does not bode well for Bayer-Monsanto, seeing how there are many
thousands more cases just like it waiting in the wings.
And, according to Wisner, he has hundreds of documents that are even
more damning than those brought to bear during Johnson's trial,
which was rushed to trial.
So, he's confident he will continue to
win these cases and, hopefully, change the world for the better...
Guardian August 11, 2018
Politics August 13, 2018
Democracy Now! August 14, 2018
Rising Up August 13, 2018
Sierra August 16, 2018
Fortune April 10, 2018
Justice.gov May 29, 2018
Lancet Oncology March 20, 2015
Institute of Science in Society March 24, 2015
Campaign for Accuracy in Public Health Research
Huffington Post January 31, 2017
Union of Concerned Scientists July 11, 2018
Sustainable Pulse August 17, 2018
USRTK The Monsanto Papers
Spiegel October 24, 2017
USRTK The Monsanto Papers
Bloomberg June 18, 2018
Business Day June 21, 2018
Phys.org June 21, 2018
Watch June 19, 2018
Organic Authority June 20, 2018
Bloomberg June 18, 2018
National Toxicology Program, Glyphosate and Glyphosate
Global Glyphosate Study
Global Glyphosate Study May 16, 2018
Entropy 2013, 15(4), 1416-1463
Glyphosate Pretending to Be Glycine: Devastating
Consequences, Stephanie Seneff
USRTK The Monsanto Papers
Spinning Science & Silencing Scientists: A Case Study in
How the Chemical Industry Attempts to Influence Science
International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine, June