Emotional scenes as Monsanto ordered to pay $289m damages in cancer trial

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto

On Friday, a jury made a stunning decision in a lawsuit against chemical giant Monsanto: it awarded nearly $290 million to a former school groundskeeper who said his use of the weedkiller Roundup led to untreatable cancer.

Jurors found on Friday that the company had acted with "malice" and that its weedkillers contributed "substantially" to Johnson's terminal illness.

After three days of deliberations this week, the jury at the Superior Court of California in San Francisco awarded Johnson $250 million in punitive damages and about $39 million in compensatory damages.

Johnson, 46, applied Roundup weedkiller 20 to 30 times per year while working as a groundskeeper for a school district near San Francisco, his attorneys said.

Plaintiff Dewayne Johnson reacts after hearing the verdict to his case against Monsanto at the Superior Court Of California in San Francisco, on August 10, 2018.

Emails sent the duo seeking comment on the California court's verdict and government plan of action remained unanswered at the time of publishing this article.As per the Indian food regulator FSSAI, the maximum permissible residue levels of glyphosate as of December a year ago are: 1 mg/kg in tea, 0.01 mg/kg in rice and 0.05 mg/kg in meat.

"For the herbicide glyphosate, there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma", the report states.

Records unsealed previously by a federal court lent credence to Johnson's claims - internal company emails with regulators suggested Monsanto had ghostwritten research later attributed to academics.

Monsanto is now owned by German chemicals and pharmaceuticals major Bayer, after it successfully completed the acquisition on 7 June 2018 following the receipt of all required approvals from regulatory authorities.

Monsanto spokesman Scott Partridge said the company will appeal.

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Monsanto argued that the type of cancer contracted by Johnson takes many years to form.

Mr Johnson's lawyer, Brent Wisner, said the jury's verdict showed that the evidence against the product was "overwhelming". Dewayne Johnson was awarded $289 million in damages.

Roundup is one of the UK's most popular weedkiller brands, while glyphosate herbicides are the most widely used herbicide in United Kingdom agriculture.

The pharmaceutical group Bayer, the German company which owns Monsanto, denies that herbicides containing glyphosate cause cancer and said it intends to appeal against the verdict.

According to a 2017 study of Government data by Oxford Economics, 5.4 million acres of farmland across Britain are treated with glyphosate annually.

Litzenburg and his attorneys have found more than 2,000 cases in states around the US, and another 400 have been filed in federal multidistrict litigation. The trial was expedited because his doctors said he was unlikely to survive past 2020.

"It is the most widely used and most widely studied herbicide in the world", Partridge said.

"The science finally caught up, where they couldn't bury it anymore", Wisner told the jury in closing arguments.

Partridge, meanwhile, announced that Monsanto had no intention of settling the slew of similar cases in the legal queue.

Glyophosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, and has been deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency, if used properly.

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