A series of cases involving individual plaintiffs alleging that exposure to glyphosate caused their non-Hodgkin lymphoma can move forward, a federal judge in California ruled today.

U.S. District Judge Vincent Chhabria said it was a “close question,” but that the plaintiffs had presented enough evidence “from which a reasonable jury could conclude that glyphosate can cause NHL at human-relevant doses.”

That evidence came from three experts whose opinions, Chhabria said, are “shaky,” but admissible.

Chhabria’s decision came in the first phase of litigation consolidated in his courtroom involving more than 360 plaintiffs.

In a statement, Monsanto Vice President Scott Partridge said the company would "continue to defend these lawsuits with robust evidence that proves there is absolutely no connection between glyphosate and cancer. We have sympathy for anyone suffering from cancer, but the science clearly shows that glyphosate was not the cause."

Monsanto also pointed to sections of the opinion that questioned the plaintiffs' evidence. 

The court said the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s conclusion in 2015 that glyphosate probably causes cancer in humans did not provide enough evidence for the case to get to the next phase.

“Throughout much of this case, the plaintiffs seem to have operated under the assumption that they can clear the general causation hurdle simply by showing that IARC’s decision to designate glyphosate a probable human carcinogen is scientifically sound,” he said.

But IARC’s inquiry was conducted “at a higher level of generality than what the court must do here,” Chhabria said. “Here, although there is no need to specify precisely the circumstances under which each plaintiff was exposed to glyphosate, only evidence supporting the conclusion that glyphosate causes NHL in doses within the realistic realm of actual human exposure can get the plaintiffs past summary judgment.”

Chhabria signaled that the path ahead won’t be easy for the plaintiffs. “Given how close the question is at the general causation phase, the plaintiffs appear to face a daunting challenge at the next phase,” he said. “But it is a challenge they are entitled to undertake.”

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, the most widely used weed-killer in the world.

Monsanto has told reporters it would issue a statement or speak to reporters about the decision, which is here: https://agri-pulse.com/ext/resources/pdfs/courts/roundup-daubert-order.pdf