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Bayer facing long line-up of new Roundup trials as cancer takes toll
30,000 still pursuing claims
(Mike Langford at home. Photo by Dan Williams)
Cancer has taken an unrelenting toll on 72-year-old Mike Langford. After being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in 2007 he suffered through five recurrences despite multiple rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. Now he struggles with chemo-related neuropathy in his arms and legs, and new tests show the cancer is back.
Langford blames his cancer on his longtime use of the popular weed-killing product Roundup, which he applied countless times over decades using a backpack sprayer around his five-acre California property and a vacation lake home. He alleges in a lawsuit that Monsanto, the longtime Roundup maker now owned by the German company Bayer AG, should have warned of a cancer risk.
Last month, a San Francisco judge ruled that Langford’s health is so poor that he is entitled to a speedy hearing of his claims. A trial is set for Nov. 7 in San Francisco County Superior Court.
“I’ve had it so long. I’m very angry,” Langford said in an interview, a day after doctors biopsied an enlarged lymph node. “The future doesn’t look too terribly promising,” he said, trying to hold back tears. He learned last week that the preliminary biopsy results show a return of NHL.
Langford’s is just one of a long list of upcoming trials complicating Bayer’s efforts to escape the costly, ongoing litigation over the health effects of Roundup. As part of the sweeping, nationwide legal battle that has so far run seven years, approximately 140,000 plaintiffs have alleged they developed NHL from exposure to Roundup, and should have been warned of the risk.
One trial is underway now in Monsanto’s former hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, while another in Missouri is scheduled to start in October and yet another trial is set in Hawaii for November. Several others are on court calendars in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida and elsewhere well into 2023.
For plaintiffs lawyers, the new trials mark a renewed effort to either force Roundup off the market or ensure a cancer warning is added to the weedkiller’s label. For Bayer, they mark a chance to add to its current Roundup trial record of 4 wins and 3 losses.
This story is co-published with The Guardian.