A former groundskeeper will be the first person to take on Monsanto directly in court over claims that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the company’s Roundup herbicide, caused his cancer. Dewayne “Lee” Johnson alleges that exposure to Roundup when he was working for the Benicia Unified School District in Northern California from 2012-2015 resulted in his developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Jury selection began this week and the trial is expected to start next week in California state court, with Johnson’s lawyers arguing that Monsanto deliberately misled the public about the hazards of glyphosate, which in 2015 was declared a “probably human carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Monsanto will argue that scores of studies have shown glyphosate does not cause cancer, and the company has filed a slew of motions to keep some subjects from being discussed at trial: evidence of Johnson’s medical bills; comparisons of Monsanto to the tobacco industry; and derogatory references to genetically modified organisms. The case is being closely watched for its potential influence on thousands of other cases filed around the country.
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