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California Couple Awarded $2 Billion In Roundup Cancer Trial


Now to a legal case centered on health concerns about a familiar household brand. A California jury has awarded more than $2 billion to a couple who blames the agribusiness giant Monsanto for their cancer diagnoses. It is the third court decision that's found a connection between the weed killer Roundup and cancer. From member station KQED, Molly Peterson reports.

MOLLY PETERSON, BYLINE: During more than 30 years, Alberta Pilliod and her husband battled weeds on their property with the world's best-known herbicide, Roundup. Now the Pilliods are battling cancer. And experts they brought to court say Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate, may be to blame.


ALBERTA PILLIOD: We wish that Monsanto had warned us ahead of time and that there was something on the front of their label that said, danger; may cause cancer.

PETERSON: Monsanto and its parent company Bayer deny that glyphosate is dangerous, so does the Environmental Protection Agency. But expert panels at the World Health Organization and in California disagree. The Oakland jury concluded that Monsanto should have known that Roundup carries risks to human health. The jury awarded the Pilliods $55 million for damages and an additional $2 billion meant to punish the manufacturer. Experts say that amount is almost certain to be reduced. Bayer calls it excessive and unjustifiable. But more than 13,000 cases are in the works, says plaintiff's attorney Brent Wisner.

BRENT WISNER: People are dying. People are getting sick. This verdict is as clear of a statement as you can get that they need to change what they're doing.

PETERSON: The company is appealing this and prior judgments.

For NPR News, I'm Molly Peterson.

(SOUNDBITE OF STEVE MOORE'S "PANGAEA ULTIMA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Molly Peterson