North Carolina farmers say Roundup weed killer gave them cancer

North Carolina farmers believe a popular weed killer is making them sick, and they want the company that makes the product to pay for their treatments.

Henry McWaters is one of those farmers. He said Roundup weed killer gave him cancer.

The 82-year-old has lived on his tobacco farm in Sanford for more than 60 years. McWaters said he used Roundup for years and the farmers who lease the land around his home have also used it for years and still do.

"I've sprayed a lot of it around killing weeds myself. They put it in the tractor and go along and spray the ground and all that stuff and kill the weeds," McWaters said.

Roundup contains the herbicide glyphosate. McWaters and his attorney believe years of heavy exposure to the chemical led to a diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma last year.

"He told me I had stage 4 cancer," McWaters said.

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Bayer, the parent company of Monsanto, said there is no link between cancer and their products, but several people in California have already won claims against the company.

Last month a jury awarded a couple more than $2 billion. Back in March, a jury agreed Roundup was linked to a 70-year-old man's cancer. And last year a groundskeeper won $289 million in his case.

Bayer is appealing all three decisions, but that is not stopping attorneys like Gary Jackson from pursuing legal action. Jackson is with the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. The firm that is representing about a dozen people filing suit against Monsanto.

"He was around Roundup for many years; he was farming tobacco," Jackson said.

When asked to respond to the accusations from McWaters and his attorney, a Bayer spokesperson provided the following statement:

The extensive body of science on glyphosate-based herbicides over four decades supports the conclusion that Roundup does not cause NHL (Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma).

The research on glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides, including more than 800 rigorous studies submitted to EPA, European and other regulators in connection with the registration process, confirms that these products are safe when used as directed. Notably, the largest and most recent epidemiologic study - the 2018 independent National Cancer Institute-supported long-term study that followed over 50,000 pesticide applicators for more than 20 years and was published after the IARC monograph - found no association between glyphosate-based herbicides and cancer. Additionally, EPA's April 30, 2019, interim registration review decision reaffirmed that "glyphosate is not a carcinogen" and noted that the EPA's independent cancer assessment is "more robust" and "more transparent" than IARC's review.

Bayer stands behind these products and will vigorously defend them.

At the end of the day, whether you're in the court of law, regulatory agencies or court of public opinion, it's the science that should matter here. And the extensive body of science over 40 years, including several recent human epidemiology studies, shows that glyphosate-based herbicides are not associated with NHL. Customers who know these products best continue to rely on them."
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