Legal action has been launched against agribusiness giant Monsanto by a Melbourne gardener who claims his cancer was caused by the herbicide Roundup.
- The first Australian legal case against agribusiness giant Monsanto has been lodged by a Melbourne gardener who claims his cancer was caused by the herbicide Roundup
- Roundup is the most commonly used herbicide in the world and its active ingredient is glyphosate
- Monsanto has lost three trials in the US over links between cancer and glyphosate and has been ordered to pay out billions of dollars in damages to four cancer patients, with thousands more plaintiffs awaiting trial
It will be the first case in Australia following similar trials in the US.
The writs were lodged in Victoria’s Supreme Court this morning.
18 years using Roundup
Michael Ogliarolo, 54, ran his own landscape gardening business until 2015 but was forced to retire due to ill health.
Mr Ogliarolo was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011, after using Roundup for over 18 years in his work as a landscape gardener.
His lawyer Tony Carbone said his client would mix the herbicide and apply it on lawns and plants as part of his job.
The plaintiff claims that Monsanto failed to warn him that the use of Roundup products was dangerous and capable of causing serious injuries, loss and damage.
“What we’re saying is that due to the heavy exposure, no warnings on the label to say ‘look, wear a mask, wash your hands, do this and do that’, consequently he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” Mr Carbone said.
Mr Carbone said there was plenty of evidence showing that glyphosate could cause cancer.
He said that they would be using similar evidence to that presented in the three trials in the US and he would bring international experts over if needed.
“You’ve got to remember in the States there’s been three decisions in favour of plaintiffs, they’ve been very big judgements,” Mr Carbone said.
“If [this case] was successful it would be huge, because let’s be realistic, the amount of people using Roundup, especially your farmers, your gardeners, people working in councils, it would be absolutely massive.”
If the case is successful, lawyer Mr Carbone said there were statutory limits on the amount of loss and damages that could be won.
“Usually pain and suffering’s over $500,000 and loss of income’s around $1.2 million, but we’d be asking in these sorts of cases for punitive damages,” he said.
Multiple payouts ordered in US
In the US, Monsanto has so far been ordered to pay four cancer patients, with the most recent verdict ordering a payout of $US2 billion ($2.89 billion).
All the cases are expected to be appealed.
German pharmaceutical company Bayer bought Monsanto last year and has seen a drop in its share price of more than 40 per cent since the first verdict against it.
There are predictions it could face more than $US5 billion in settlements.
In a statement to the ABC, Bayer said it had not yet received the writ, but was aware of media reports.
We have great sympathy for any individual with cancer but the extensive body of science on glyphosate-based herbicides over four decades supports the conclusion that Roundup does not cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
At the end of the day, whether you’re in the court of law, regulatory agencies or court of public opinion, it’s the science that should matter here.”