Feb. 8, 2019 – Toronto, Ontario – – Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman attorneys Michael Baum and R. Brent Wisner traveled to Canada last week to participate in a campaign to push the Canadian government to undertake an independent review of the agrichemical, glyphosate, a key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer.
Friends of the Earth Canada, a charitable non-profit environmental group, invited environmental, health and legal experts to Toronto and Ottawa for two full days of presentations and meetings on the dangers of glyphosate.
The non-profit is one of the country’s leading voices seeking an independent review of glyphosate after Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently approved use of glyphosate for another 15 years. PMRA decided to uphold the license for glyphosate in January despite concerns that Monsanto influenced the scientific literature and polluted the regulatory process.
“It is unacceptable to allow any government agency to be the sole judge of its own actions – let alone one that governs the use of pesticides,” said Friends of the Earth CEO, Beatrice Olivastri. “It’s like Dracula in charge of the blood bank.”
In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen,” and cited a positive association for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Since the release of the IARC report, thousands of individuals from across the United States have filed lawsuits against Monsanto (now Bayer), alleging exposure to Roundup caused them to develop NHL.
Through the discovery process, lawyers in the United States have been able to access and publicize internal Monsanto documents now known throughout the world as the Monsanto Papers.
The Monsanto Papers tell an alarming story of ghostwriting, scientific manipulation and collusion with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and previously undisclosed information about how the human body absorbs glyphosate. The documents, which include internal emails, text messages, studies, company presentations and other memoranda, show the serious public health consequences surrounding Monsanto’s conduct in marketing Roundup.
Last summer, the first Roundup cancer lawsuit proceeded to trial in Northern California. The case of Dewayne “Lee” Johnson v. Monsanto culminated in a $289 million jury verdict against Monsanto. Brent Wisner and Michael Baum were both part of the trial team, with Wisner delivering the opening and closing statements.
“We were finally able to show the jury the secret, internal Monsanto documents with correspondence to the U.S. EPA proving that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and specifically Roundup could cause cancer,” said Wisner. He added that independent science continues to prove that glyphosate and the Roundup formulated product cause cancer, and that governments throughout the world are turning a blind eye to the evidence, much like they did for many years with tobacco.
“Based on our successful disclosure of Monsanto’s paper trail, the jury [in the Johnson case] also found that Monsanto acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished for its conduct,” said Michael Baum. “This determination should ring warning bells for Canadian Parliamentarians.”
Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman Meet with Canadian Parliament to Discuss Monsanto Roundup Litigation
On Jan. 30, Baum, Wisner, and other invited guests briefed Members of Parliament on why Canada should conduct an independent review on glyphosate. Brent Wisner said the PMRA is “dead wrong” to allow glyphosate to be widely used in Canada for another 15 years.
In the meeting, Mr. Baum showed a PowerPoint presentation outlining some of the key evidence used during the Johnson trial. One key slide that captured attention showed some of the scientific reviews that the PMRA relied upon to relicense glyphosate. The journal that published the six review papers has issued expressions of concerns and apologies because the authors of the reviews failed to adequately disclose their ties to Monsanto.
Another review paper on the slide by Williams, Kroes & Munro, systematically reviewed more than 50 toxicology and epidemiology studies. The slide showed text from an email written by Monsanto executive William Heydens in 2015:
“An option would be to add Greim and Kier or Kirkland to have their names on the publication, but we would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and they would just edit & sign their names so to speak. Recall that is how we handled Williams Kroes & Munro, 2000.”
Meg Sears, Chair of the non-profit, Prevent Cancer Now, also gave a presentation on the health trends and concerns in Canada. “There is no time to lose,” Dr. Sears said. “Parliamentarians need to understand that young Canadians are getting sicker, with chronic diseases earlier in life. Beside cancers, glyphosate effects on gut microbes can contribute to bowel, immune, metabolic and neurological conditions that cost society dearly, and the healthcare system billions of dollars.”
Canadian Environmental Law Association Meeting in Toronto
After the events in Ottawa, Baum and Wisner flew to Toronto for briefings with fellow attorneys, activists and concerned citizens organized by the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA).
Baum and Wisner delivered presentations to a standing-room-only crowd at the Gladstone Hotel, then bookended the trip meeting with lawyers from CELA to discuss the possibility of litigation against Monsanto in Canada.
“We continue to see growing international interest in holding legislative and regulatory bodies’ feet to the fire regarding the actual science and evaluation of glyphosate and Roundup,” said Michael Baum of the trip to Canada.
“The curtain has pulled away from the wonderful wizards of chemical approval and it turns out that copying and pasting reviews, failing to follow their own protocols and ignoring deceptive activity by Monsanto and other chemical companies has resulted in dubious regulatory approvals. Armed with our documents and the expert reports from the Johnson trial, people around the world are prepared to stand up and say, enough is enough already. The Canadians and the Europeans have done that … it is encouraging to see.”