Former Manitoba farmer fighting cancer takes legal action against makers of roundup

A Manitoba man fighting cancer is taking legal action against a company that owns Monsanto, alleging in court documents a failure to warn him about the health risks of its herbicide.

The retired farmer in Lorette, Man., claims he developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup.

The herbicide is a product created by Monsanto, which is owned by Bayer Canada.

The accusations are laid out in a proposed class action lawsuit, filed Aug. 26 by Merchant Law in Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench.

It states the 71- year-old farmer used Roundup weekly in his yard and multiple times during the year on the fields of his family farm, primarily to get rid of weeds.

He was “particularly careful while mixing and spraying Roundup by avoiding its use on a windy day and using protective gear,” according to court documents.

He was first diagnosed with cancer in 1996, undergoing chemotherapy and radiation until 2006.

In 2019, his cancer returned, causing him to retire and once again undergo chemotherapy.

A life-changing illness

As a result of the disease, the suit claims the retired farmer suffered a number of setbacks that have been “detrimental to his quality of life.”

It said he was forced to leave his job in construction because he didn’t have the energy to work long hours and also had to sell some of his property so he could afford to stay home and recover.

Now, he is too ill to spend time with his grandchildren, and cannot walk from one room to another.

The suit is seeking damages for the plaintiff and class members for injury and economic loss.

Herbicide and health

The class action details the health risks of an active ingredient called glyphosate, which it claims is one of the most widely used herbicides in Canada.

It’s been used by farmers, as well as home and business owners around the world for nearly 40 years.

In 1991, the Environmental Protection Agency classified glyphosate as Group E, meaning there wasn’t evidence of carcinogenicity in humans.

Then in 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IRAC), an agency of the World Health Organization, reclassified it as a substance that is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Roundup and glyphosate are registered for use in 130 countries.

Bayer responds

In a written statement to CTV News on Thursday, Bayer said “While we have great sympathy for the plaintiffs, glyphosate-based herbicides are not the cause of their illnesses and we will vigorously defend our products.”

“Glyphosate has been extensively studied globally by scientists and regulators, and results from this research confirm it is not carcinogenic.”

It also says that in January 2019, Health Canada reviewed glyphosate and “again reaffirmed its conclusion that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a human cancer risk.”

The plaintiff claims there are hundreds of litigations underway in the U.S. against the defendants.

In May 2019, a California couple with cancer was awarded $2 billion in a lawsuit against Monsanto.