Two non-profit watchdog organizations – Beyond Pesticides and the Organic Consumers Association – filed a lawsuit against agribusiness giant Monsanto last month, alleging that the company has deliberately placed misleading and false information on the packaging of its flagship product, Roundup. The plaintiffs are demanding a trial before a jury.
The label states that the product targets “an enzyme found in plants but not in people and pets.” That statement flies in the face of recent studies linking Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate, to a host of health problems, including cancer and fetal injuries. According to the complaint,
“Monsanto aggressively markets Roundup as safe for humans and animals, despite newer studies indicating that glyphosate may be carcinogenic and affect human and animal cardiovascular, endocrine, nervous and reproductive systems...Monsanto is aware of how glyphosate works on the shikimate pathway, and ... is aware of studies showing that the shikimate pathway is present in bacteria integral to the digestive systems of people and pets. Monsanto therefore knows that glyphosate targets an enzyme present not only in plants, but also in people and pets. ”
The complaint also alleges that “By deceiving consumers about the nature and effects of Roundup, Monsanto is able to sell a greater volume of Roundup, and to command a higher price for Roundup.” The plaintiffs seek “equitable relief” for the general public, requiring Roundup to surrender all profits from Roundup to a charitable organization in order to educate the general public about the effects of glyphosate.
They appear to have an excellent case against Monsanto. Two years ago, the World Health Organization listed glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic.” More recently, the State of California's Office of Environmental Health Assessment required Monsanto include the statement “Contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects and other reproductive harm” on bottles of Roundup beginning next year.
At the same time, Monsanto has been paying its own “experts” at the EPA and in the media in its ongoing efforts to preserve its profits and convince the public that the product is somehow “harmless,” and has allegedly been “ghostwriting” its own research to support its claims.
Glyphosate has also been found in many common foods available on grocery shelves. Most recently, a study presented at the Children's Environmental Health Network in Washington D.C. showed that pregnant women exposed to glyphosate are more likely to give birth to premature and underweight infants.