Terminally ill man awarded $289 million in lawsuit against Monsanto

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Mr Johnson used Roundup and a similar product, Ranger Pro, as a pest control manager at a San Francisco Bay Area school district, his lawyers said. Hopefully this thing will start to get the attention it needs.

Jurors in San Francisco found on Friday that the company had acted with "malice" and that its weedkillers contributed "substantially" to Mr Johnson's terminal illness.

They all allege not only that their cancers were caused by exposure to Monsanto's herbicides, but that Monsanto has long known about, and covered up, the dangers.

"This should send a strong message to the boardroom of Monsanto", Kennedy added.

Environmentalists say the weedkiller is linked to cancer, although the claim is strongly denied by manufacturers and the European Union has approved the chemical for use. "The verdict today does not change the science", Partridge said.

"This verdict proves that when ordinary citizens, in this case a jury of 12, hear the facts about Monsanto's products, and the lengths to which this company has gone to buy off scientists, deceive the public and influence government regulatory agencies, there is no confusion", said Ronnie Cummins, OCA's worldwide director.

Johnson's team expressed confidence in the verdict, saying the judge in the case had kept out a mountain of more evidence backing their position.

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"You not only see many people injured, you see the corruption of public officials, the capture of agencies that are supposed to protect us from pollution and the falsification of science".

Johnson has two children and a wife, Araceli, who now works two jobs to take care of the family. But Partridge said hundreds of scientific studies and government agencies have concluded that its Roundup weed killer doesn't cause cancer.

"A unanimous jury in San Francisco has told Monsanto: "Enough".

"The Johnson vs Monsanto verdict is a win for all of humanity and all life on earth", said Zen Honeycutt, founding executive director of non-profit group Moms Across America. Glyphosate-based herbicides are so widely used around the globe (roughly 826 million kg a year) that residues are commonly found in food and water supplies, and in soil and air samples.

Despite its denials of any links between its products and ill health effects, Monsanto has already suffered hits to its reputation in light of the controversy. It was expedited because court filings indicated that Johnson was dying.

The implications of this verdict will be felt far beyond Monsanto's headquarters in Missouri. It was acquired by Bayer for more than US$62 billion in June. Monsanto was undone by the words of its own scientists, the damning truth illuminated through the company's emails, internal strategy reports and other communications. The company has employed a range of tactics - some drawn from the same playbook used by the tobacco industry in defending the safety of cigarettes - to suppress and manipulate scientific literature, harass journalists and scientists who did not parrot the company's propaganda, and arm-twist and collude with regulators. Monsanto launched Roundup in 1976 and soon thereafter began genetically modifying plants, making some resistant to Roundup.

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