Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer AG last year, is facing thousands of lawsuits alleging an ingredient in its Roundup weed killer causes cancer. But a new class action lawsuit filed in Kansas City, Missouri, claims that the glyphosate in the herbicide attacks a gut enzyme found in the beneficial intestinal flora of humans and some animals. The suit says the companies deceived consumers about the product’s safety.
In recent years, gut bacteria have played a more prominent role in medical research, with unhealthy intestinal microbiome being blamed on everything from depression to obesity. The lawsuit claims that Monsanto misled consumers about the safety of glyphosate and its ability to disrupt healthy gut bacteria.
Scotts Miracle-Gro, which distributes Roundup, is also named in the lawsuit. Two other lawsuits – in Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. – make similar claims against Bayer’s Monsanto, though they are not class action lawsuits.
Roundup is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. In 2017, Monsanto recorded $295 million in sales in its gardening segment, according to Euromonitor. Its agriculture sales topped $3.7 billion that year.
In August, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million to a school groundskeeper who used Roundup regularly, and twice claimed he’d been accidently doused in the pesticide. He says exposure to glyphosate, a chemical classified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization, caused him to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. His award was later reduced to $78 million.
Monsanto faces more than 8,000 lawsuits alleging its weed killers cause cancer.