Monsanto Roundup lawyer Brent Wisner and his client, Teri McCall, were interviewed this week by KFCF 88.1 FM’s Lloyd Carter to discuss ongoing litigation against Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup weed killer. Monsanto has been named in a number of lawsuits alleging the agrochemical giant purposely downplayed the link between cancer and exposure to Roundup. In the interview, Wisner and Ms. McCall answered Carter’s questions about the Monsanto lawsuit she filed on behalf of her late husband, Jack, who developed terminal cancer after using Roundup on their family farm over a span of nearly 30 years.
Jack McCall was a Vietnam veteran and a prominent farmer in Cambria, California. In September of 2015, Jack went to the hospital to treat swollen lymph nodes in his neck. That very day in the hospital, a doctor delivered the news that the swelling in his neck was caused by anaplastic large cell lymphoma (or ALCL), a rare and aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. On Christmas Eve, roughly three months after his initial diagnosis, Jack McCall suffered a severe stroke due to complications from his cancer treatments. He died two days later.
On Lloyd Carter’s KFCF’s monthly radio show ‘Down in the Valley,’ Brent Wisner and Teri McCall touched on a variety of topics related to the Monsanto lawsuit. Below are some of the highlights of the interview:
The History of Roundup
Carter started the conversation by asking Mr. Wisner about the history of Monsanto’s herbicide business, which was kick-started with the popularity of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), an insecticide that was eventually banned in the United States in 1972.
Brent Wisner: “In the 1970s after the government banned DDT, Monsanto needed to fill this vacuum of revenue it had lost, which is where Roundup came into play,” said Mr. Wisner. “When it was approved by the EPA, Roundup’s primary ingredient—glyphosate—was initially characterized by the EPA as potentially cancerous. In response to this designation, Monsanto sent the EPA studies that were not peer-reviewed, and this new data essentially got the EPA to change its mind.”
Why Other Countries Seem to be Ahead of the Curve Over Concerns About Glyphosate
One topic that Carter kept coming back to was the idea that other countries outside of the U.S. seem to be more concerned about glyphosate safety. Why is this the case?
Brent Wisner: “So many of the scientists that study herbicides and pesticides are primarily compensated by Monsanto. When you start looking for scientists and researchers who are going to offer unbiased opinions about glyphosate safety, unfortunately, you generally have to look internationally. It’s these scientists who don’t have constraints on them that are really going to look at the risks. That’s one of the reasons that countries and organizations outside of the U.S. are willing to take a stronger stance on this…some countries have taken the step to ban glyphosate out of concern.”
Glyphosate and the Link to Cancer
Brent Wisner: “Prolonged exposure to glyphosate can lead to DNA strand breaks, which is a mechanism for the development of cancer…It’s interesting, actually—if you buy Roundup from a store, the label on the bottle says it only affects an enzyme that is not found in humans, which is a blatant misrepresentation. The Roundup label is actually misleading.”
“Also, we’re not just talking about exposure to glyphosate—it’s exposure to glyphosate plus all the other chemicals in Roundup. Exposure to glyphosate carries particular risk, but the other chemicals in Roundup actually make glyphosate penetration all the more potent.”
What Does the World Health Organization Say About Glyphosate?
Brent Wisner: “Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that based on publicly available, peer-reviewed data, glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. The WHO also concluded that glyphosate was directly linked with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is the type of cancer that Jack McCall was diagnosed with and ultimately died from.”
Monsanto Roundup Lawyer: It’s Not Just Farmers Affected by Glyphosate
Mr. Wisner was asked if household use of Roundup has produced cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancers. His answer may surprise some:
Brent Wisner: “Our firm does this litigation for a variety of people. We have quite a few clients who aren’t farmers, they just simply used Roundup around their homes and in their gardens and they’ve developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma.”
“It’s important to note that this is not just a risk for farmers or agricultural workers, though they are generally more likely to be exposed to Roundup. We’re seeing this happening to people that we wouldn’t typically associate with pesticide use—people that are just trying to keep their weeds under control thinking that this product is completely safe. Little do they know that they are subjecting themselves and their family members to serious risk.”
“Our firm was recently contacted by a family whose 11-year-old child was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma after they had used Roundup around the house.”
The Decision to File a Monsanto Lawsuit
After being asked about what prompted her to reach out to a Monsanto Roundup lawyer, Teri McCall had this to say:
Teri McCall: Our son is the one that brought it to our attention, the link between cancer and Roundup. He said, ‘you really should go on the Internet and look at these links talking about non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Roundup.’ It was not something that my husband was interested in looking at or talking about toward the end of his life, but I did look it up and that’s when I called [Monsanto Roundup lawyer] Brent Wisner at Baum Hedlund.”
Community Reaction to Monsanto Lawsuit
Carter asked Ms. McCall what the reaction has been like in Cambria and the farming community after she retained a Monsanto Roundup lawyer:
Teri McCall: “The support has been overwhelming from the community and beyond. Strangers have called me and said either they or their husbands have contracted non-Hodgkin lymphoma after years of using Roundup. There are definitely a lot of people out there that have been negatively affected by this herbicide…”
Hopes for the Monsanto Lawsuit
Teri McCall: “Jack never smoked, he ate well. His uncle lived to be almost 100. I assumed that my husband was going to be one of those people that lived a long life…My hope is that we can raise awareness to this danger and help prevent other people from suffering the same fate as my husband.”