'Loosey-Goosey' Experts in Monsanto Round Up Cancer Lawsuit

By George Khoury, Esq. on March 20, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The litigation over whether Monsanto's flagship weed killer, Round Up, causes non-Hodgkins lymphoma heated up earlier this month. The federal district court was treated to a parade of experts expressing competing opinions on the safety of Round Up.

Notably, reports from the closing day of testimony explain that Judge Chhabria expressed skepticism as to the plaintiffs' experts, going so far as to call it "highly questionable at best and maybe junk science." And if that wasn't enough, the distinguished federal jurist is quoted calling epidemiology a "highly subjective" and "loosey goosey" field.

Battle of Experts

While the plaintiffs' attorney steadfastly maintains that the evidence supports the claim that Round Up causes non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the court is currently considering which experts to allow testimony from at trial. And while the court may find that some of the plaintiffs' experts relied upon shaky science, that's not exactly a death knell. Naturally, each side has a cadre of professionals testifying in support of their positions as well as against the other side's.

These types of battles of the experts are not terribly uncommon particularly in cases involving a product's toxicity. This Monsanto Round Up case involves hundreds of cases alleging that exposure to an ingredient in Round Up weed killer, glyphosate, caused hundreds of farmers, landscapers and gardeners to develop the cancer in their lymph nodes. The science and experts that the judge permits a jury to hear will undoubtedly influence the jury's decision.

Notably, the court has its job cut out for it as top level scientific organizations can't come to a consensus. In 2015, the World Health Organization found that the ingredient was "probably carcinogenic to humans," while a couple years later the EPA reached the opposite conclusion. Interestingly, recently, Monsanto has so far avoided the having to place a state of California cancer warning on the product.

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