A scant six weeks before the first bellwether case goes to trial alleging Monsanto failed to warn consumers that its weed killer Roundup contains an ingredient that has been linked to cancer, the company told the California federal judge overseeing the multidistrict litigation (MDL) that consumers’ failure to warn claims are preempted by federal insecticide law.
Citing the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, attorneys for Monsanto filed a motion for summary judgement claiming that the company cannot change its labeling or the formulation of its weed killer without approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Monsanto’s attorneys further argued that the EPA would reject any attempt by Monsanto to add a cancer warning to Roundup’s label because the agency had previously said that it does not consider glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, a carcinogen. However, glyphosate was in 2015 listed as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.
The multidistrict litigation involves claims that Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate is carcinogenic and causes cancers like non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Plaintiffs say Monsanto never warned consumers of this risk. The first bellwether trial in the multidistrict litigation is set for Feb. 25, and the second for sometime in May.
Last August, a California state jury awarded a school groundskeeper $289 million after finding exposure to glyphosate in Monsanto’s Roundup and Ranger Pro herbicides contributed to his non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis.
Monsanto was acquired by Bayer AG in June 2018.