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Nebraska farmers accuse Monsanto herbicide of causing their cancer

Luke Runyon
Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

A group of Nebraska farmers is suing the giant seed and chemical company, Monsanto, in federal court saying the company’s top-selling herbicide gave them cancer.

Farmers Larry Domina, Robert Dickey, and Royce Janzen, along with farm agronomist Frank Pollard, have each been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. They were exposed to Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller in their work on the farm.

They allege that Roundup caused their illness and that Monsanto downplayed research showing the chemical poses a cancer risk.

Similar cases have been filed in California, New York, and Delaware.

In a statement, Monsanto said the science “simply does not support their claims when it comes to glyphosate.”

Last year the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a panel of scientists assembled by the World Health Organization, determined glyphosate probably can cause cancer. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup.

The IARC finding is cited in the Nebraska lawsuit.

But another WHO panel recently came to a different conclusion. The Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR), convened by the WHO and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, determined glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer.

The two conclusions don’t necessarily contradict each other. IARC judges whether it is at all possible for a chemical to cause cancer, while the JMPR considers the risk of developing cancer from the levels of pesticide residue on food.

Roundup is one of the most heavily used weedkillers in the country. Most of the corn and soybeans planted in the U.S. are genetically modified to withstand Roundup so farmers can kill weeds but not their crop.

Harvest Public Media's reporter at NET News, where he started as Morning Edition host in 2008. He joined Harvest Public Media in July 2012. Grant has visited coal plants, dairy farms, horse tracks and hospitals to cover a variety of stories. Before going to Nebraska, Grant studied mass communication as a grad student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and completed his undergrad at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. He grew up on a farm in southwestern Iowa where he listened to public radio in the tractor, but has taken up city life in Lincoln, Neb.