Monsanto ordered to pay $289M after man said its Roundup weed-killers caused his cancer - Canadanewsmedia
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Monsanto ordered to pay $289M after man said its Roundup weed-killers caused his cancer

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A California jury on Friday found Monsanto liable in a lawsuit filed by a man who alleged the company’s glyphosate-based weed-killers, including Roundup, caused his cancer and ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages.

The case of school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson was the first lawsuit to go to trial alleging glyphosate causes cancer.

Monsanto, a unit of Bayer AG following a $62.5 billion acquisition by the German conglomerate, faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the United States.

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The jury at San Francisco’s Superior Court of California deliberated for three days before finding that Monsanto had failed to warn Johnson and other consumers of the cancer risks posed by its weed killers.

It awarded $39 million in compensatory and $250 million in punitive damages.

Monsanto in a statement said it would appeal the verdict.

“Today’s decision does not change the fact that more than 800 scientific studies and reviews… support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer, and did not cause Mr. Johnson’s cancer,” the company said.

Monsanto denies that glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, causes cancer and says decades of scientific studies have shown the chemical to be safe for human use.

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Johnson’s case, filed in 2016, was fast-tracked for trial due to the severity of his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system that he alleges was caused by Roundup and Ranger Pro, another Monsanto glyphosate herbicide. Johnson’s doctors said he is unlikely to live past 2020.

A former pest control manager for a California county school system, Johnson, 46, applied the weed killer up to 30 times per year.

READ MORE: Monsanto sued by patients and families over alleged link between weed killer and cancer

Brent Wisner, a lawyer for Johnson, in a statement said jurors for the first time had seen internal company documents “proving that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and specifically Roundup could cause cancer.”

He called on Monsanto to “put consumer safety first over profits.”

Over the course of the four-week trial, jurors heard testimony by statisticians, doctors, public health researchers and epidemiologists who disagreed on whether glyphosate can cause cancer.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in September 2017 concluded a decades-long assessment of glyphosate risks and found the chemical not likely carcinogenic to humans.

But the World Health Organization’s cancer arm in 2015 classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

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Musk Defends Relentless Work Hours as Tesla Enters Fateful Week

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Several anti-pipeline protesters released from BC jail days before week-long sentences end

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Several pipeline protesters were released from a British Columbia jail on Sunday, a few days before their week-long sentences were set to end.

Seven protesters in all were sentenced to a week-long jail term on Aug. 15, after pleading guilty to contempt charges in B.C. Supreme Court.

Five who were released on Sunday issued a joint statement, saying they were imprisoned because of their opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

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In the statement, the five women – who include anti-poverty activist and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson – said they are not criminals, but “political prisoners.”

Swanson said in a phone interview that her four days spent at the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge, B.C., had not deterred her in what she said is a fight against climate change.

“I don’t know how anyone can look at the sky in Vancouver today and say global warming is not an issue,” said Swanson, in reference to the smoke and particulate matter from wildfires hazing the skies in southwestern B.C.

“We need to do something, we need to stop the insanity.”

From her perspective as an anti-poverty advocate, Swanson said the Trans Mountain pipeline ties the issues of homelessness, poverty and climate change together.

“For all those billions and billions of dollars, governments could actually create jobs building renewable energy…. Governments could end homelessness, they could put clean and safe water on Indigenous reserves.”

In May, the federal government announced its intent to acquire Trans Mountain from Kinder Morgan Canada.

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According to recent documents filed with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission, the sale could cost as much as $1.9-billion more than the initial quote of $4.5-billion.

The documents also suggest the project could take another 12 months to finish.

More than 200 activists have been arrested for demonstrations against the Trans Mountain project since March.

Those released on Sunday also included former B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Susan Lambert.

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Online pot sales will leave a lot of information at risk, say experts

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TORONTO — Buyers who have to provide personal information to purchase recreational pot online after legalization this fall should be able to rely on existing laws to protect their privacy but the issue needs to be watched closely to ensure regulations are obeyed and mistakes are avoided, experts say.

The matter is important given the stigma many people still attach to marijuana use, and the potential for Canadians to be barred from the United States if their otherwise legal indulgence becomes known to American border agents.

“We need to keep eyes on it, meaning we have to make sure this information is not abused or used for secondary purposes that were never intended,” Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s former privacy commissioner and now an expert at Ryerson University, said in an interview. “Theoretically, it should not be used for any other purpose.”

A spokesperson for federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien said the office had not looked specifically at online marijuana sales. At the same time, the commission said it recognized privacy concerns around buying or using marijuana given its longtime status as a controlled substance.

“The legal sale and use of both medicinal and recreational marijuana raises privacy issues, particularly since laws and regulations differ from country to country and even within countries,” Tobi Cohen said. “We have repeatedly raised concerns about the effectiveness of (Canada’s two privacy laws) in the digital age and have called for both laws to be strengthened.”

Last week, Ontario’s new Progressive Conservative government announced that consumers 19 years or older will have to go online to buy weed after legalization federally on Oct. 17 because private retail stores won’t be up and running until April. A government agency called the Ontario Cannabis Store will run the online sales, although private e-commerce provider Shopify will be involved.

Online buyers will, at minimum, have to provide a name along with email and delivery address, and payment information. In Ontario, as is currently the case with online alcohol sales, buyers will be able to order as a “guest” without creating an online account.

However, Scott Blodgett, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance, said buyers will have to provide proof of age via government-issued ID, which a delivery person will verify but not copy. The cannabis store website will have data security and privacy controls “aligned with global e-commerce best practice,” he said.

Personal data will remain in Canada and not be shared with third parties, Blodgett said.

Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner Brian Beamish was unavailable to discuss the issue but his office said in a statement that public institutions are accountable for the information they collect.

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