Omaha, Nebraska-based law firm Domina Law Group has announced it will be investigating cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in farmers from Nebraska and across the country who have been exposed to the widely-used herbicide glyphosate.
In March 2015, a paper published in the journal The Lancet titled “Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate,” authored by Kathryn Z. Guyton and others, reporting on behalf of a World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monograph Working Group of 17 experts from 11 countries who met at the the IARC in Lyon, France, to assess the carcinogenicity of five organophosphate pesticides: tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate. Their assessments have also been published as Volume 112 of the IARC Monographs.
Glyphosate is the most prolific herbicide in the world. It’s used in a range of agricultural, industrial, silvicultural, commercial, and household applications. The working group found limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma based on published studies going back to 2001 of exposures, mostly agricultural, in the U.S., Canada, and Sweden.
In addition, they report finding convincing evidence that glyphosate can cause cancer in laboratory animals, noting that on the basis of tumors in mouse models, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency originally classified glyphosate as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group C) in 1985. After a re-evaluation of that mouse study, the EPA changed its classification to evidence of non-carcinogenicity in humans (Group E) in 1991. The EPA Scientific Advisory Panel noted that the re-evaluated glyphosate results were still significant using two statistical tests recommended in the IARC report.
However, the IARC Working Group that conducted the 2015 evaluation considered significant findings from the EPA report and several more recent positive results, concluding that there is sufficient evidence of glyphosate’s carcinogenicity in experimental animals and that the herbicide also caused DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, although it gave negative results in tests using bacteria. They cite one study in community residents that reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage (micronuclei) after glyphosate formulations were sprayed nearby.
On July 29, 2015, the IARC issued a 92-page monograph on the recent classification of glyphosate (as well as the pesticides malathion and diazinon) to the probable carcinogen Category 2A.
In response to that reclassification, the Joint Glyphosate Task Force, LLC (JGTF), which is comprised of more than 20 corporate members, all possessing a glyphosate technical registration in the U.S. or Canada, issued a statement critical of the IARC review process and questioning the veracity of its findings regarding glyphosate, noting that the monograph contained no new studies or data, and asserting that regulatory agencies around the world have conducted thorough and science-based risk assessments on pesticides, including glyphosate.
The JGTF maintains that these agencies have reviewed glyphosate for decades, consistently concluding that all labeled uses of glyphosate are safe for human health, and that no regulatory agency in the world considers glyphosate to be a carcinogen.
The industry advocacy group contends in a press release that “IARC’s process is not a risk assessment. In IARC’s own words, ‘The IARC Monographs Program evaluates cancer hazards but not the risks associated with exposure.’ This is a much more limited approach than the process used by regulatory agencies. Additionally, in conducting its review, IARC selectively disregarded numerous scientific studies that support the conclusion by regulatory agencies that glyphosate is not a carcinogen,” and concluded that:
“For more than 40 years, glyphosate has been a valuable and effective weed-control tool for farmers, gardeners, and other users. As a result, glyphosate is one of the most carefully studied herbicides on the market. Unfortunately, IARC’s selective disregard of scientific data and vastly inconsistent classification have resulted in unnecessary concern and confusion. For that reason, we reiterate our call on the WHO to clarify how IARC arrived at its conclusion.”
JGTF’s position is disputed by Omaha’s Domina Law Group, which cites case control studies of occupational exposure to glyphosate, which, it says, is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s popular Roundup weed-killer product. In a release, the law firm cites the occupational exposure case studies in the U.S., Canada, and Sweden that report associated increased risk for four types of cancer: non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, hairy cell leukemia, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and also notes California’s classification of glyphosate as probable to cause cancer.
Domina alleges that among demographics most at risk for exposure to glyphosate are farm workers via several routes including dermal, when the chemical touches the skin either through direct application or as residue from aerial spraying; inhalation, such as when glyphosate aerosols are breathed when working in fields where the herbicide is being sprayed, or when performing the application; and ingestion, when the exposed individual breathes in and ingests the chemical during application.
“Claims against Monsanto for ‘Farmer’s Cancer’ have been many years in the making and it has not been a matter of if, but rather when,” said Domina Law Group founder and lead attorney David Domina, one of a handful of American lawyers to have won a jury verdict for more than $1 billion, and who says he grew up on a farm and understands the agriculture industry. In its representation of farmers with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Domina Law Group is alleging that Monsanto knew or should have known of glyphosate’s probable cancer-causing properties and should have, but failed to, properly warn farmers of the risks.
The Omaha law firm notes that farmers are a particular focus of the July 29, 2015, action of the WHO’s IARC, and that five farmers diagnosed with non-Holdgkin lymphona who approached them all think exposure to glyphosate in Roundup is a likely cause of their disease.
Domina Law Group and colleague law firm Weitz & Luxenberg, which has offices in New York, New Jersey, and Los Angeles, are forming a consortium to investigate and develop cases of farmers with non-Hodgkin lymphoma throughout Nebraska and across America. For more information, visit:
Domina Law notes that Roundup weed killer is used not only by farmers and landscapers, but also by homeowners, and contends that anyone who uses the product is potentially at risk, particularly those who have had sustained frequent or prolonged exposure.
Domina Law Group has also posted a Roundup/non-Hodgkin lymphoma informational packet that can be downloaded as a PDF file here:
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