Lawyers in British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta have launched a $500-million class-action lawsuit against the makers of the herbicide Roundup for allegedly withholding information that the product causes cancer.
Lawyers in Vancouver, Toronto and in Edmonton announced on Wednesday the legal action against numerous manufacturers including Bayer, Monsanto and Intertek Group. The statement of claim accuses the manufacturers of concealing “studies from regulatory authorities in Canada and the world that proved Roundup was causing or materially contributing to developing cancer.”
At the news conference in Edmonton, Tony Hunter, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, and his wife Brenda shared their story about how Roundup has impacted them.
Hunter, 55, said he grew up on a 1,000-acre farm where he and his father would routinely use Roundup. He started using the herbicide when he was around 16-years-old and continued to use the product until he was 18.
He was diagnosed with cancer when he was 24 years old and is currently in remission after battling the disease for the past 20 years.
“Growing up I believed Roundup was a safe product because there were no warnings that indicated otherwise,” he said in his statement. “I hope that justice will be achieved for those who also held the same belief that Roundup was a safe product and who were diagnosed with cancer like I was.”
The Hunters live in Saddle Lake and have to drive two hours to Edmonton in order to receive treatment. Hunter was in remission for several years before his cancer came back sometime in 2005. He would eventually be diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma and lupus.
Brenda said it has been a struggle.
Basil Bansal, a lawyer with Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, said his law firm launched three class-action lawsuits in the summer on behalf of 70 people. He said recent information has led them to believe the makers of Roundup “recklessly disregarded the safety of Canadians.”
“It is our belief that the defendants acted negligently in placing Roundup in the stream of commerces in Alberta and elsewhere in Canada,” he said. “We believe the defendants withheld the risks of cancer and other health risks by secretly ghostwriting scientific journals and provided those to Health Canada. Studies that were provided to regulatory authorities in relation to this product’s safety was falsified, misleading and included manipulated control groups.”
Roundup is a glyphosate-based product originally produced by Monsanto and is widely used in Canada including in Alberta. The City of Edmonton, for example, uses Roundup Transorb and Weathermax at certain sites for weed control.
In January, Health Canada found no reason to crack down on glyphosate after conducting a re-evaluation on glyphosate in 2017.
“No pesticide regulatory authority in the world currently considers glyphosate to be a cancer risk to humans at the levels at which humans are currently exposed,” Health Canada said in its statement. “We continue to monitor for new information related to glyphosate, including regulatory actions from other governments, and will take appropriate action if risks of concern to human health or the environment are identified.”
Bansal said Health Canada wasn’t included in the class-action lawsuit because the government body was tricked by the manufacturers into believing their product was safe. He wouldn’t comment on whether criminal action should be taken.
This isn’t the first lawsuit against companies that produce glyphosate-based products. In the United States, about 18,000 lawsuits have been filed against the makers. In July, a California judge awarded $86.7 million to a couple who developed cancer after using Roundup.
Bansal said that while there are currently 70 people on their class-action lawsuit he suspects once the news of the legal action is more widely known more will join.
Bayer Canada in an email statement said it stands by its product.
“Glyphosate has been extensively studied globally by scientists and regulators and results from this research confirm it is not carcinogenic,” the company said. “We firmly stand behind the safety of glyphosate-based products and as a company devoted to life sciences, assure Canadians that their health and the environment are our top priority.”
Bayer argues glyphosate-based products have been used for more than 40 years with multiple studies — more than 800 — showing them to be safe. SOURCE