If you’ve been looking for Monsanto’s weed-killer Roundup to help rid your lawn and garden of summer weeds, you may have noticed that the product was conspicuously absent from Costco shelves.
It’s not because Costco ran out of supplies. The wholesale retail giant has confirmed that it isn’t selling Roundup this season, according to Michelle Cook, a board-certified doctor of natural medicine and author of several books about health and healing.
“Since Feb. 1, 2019, I was in touch with Costco representatives to confirm or deny the reports that the company will not be carrying Roundup. Finally, after repeated attempts over the last four months Corporate Communications … at Costco Wholesale Corporation stated [that] “Costco is constantly reviewing its (product) lineup, and is not planning to sell RoundUp this season.”
Costco’s decision to suspend Roundup from its product line follows a petition from Moms Across America, a consumer group led by Zen Honeycutt. She announced the Costco-Roundup breakup in January, but the retailer was slow to confirm the news.
The news also comes after a California jury awarded a couple more than $2 billion, mostly in punitive damages. Plaintiffs Alva and Alberta Pilliod claimed years of Roundup use caused them to suffer from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), a form of cancer affecting the body’s lymph nodes, blood cells, and immune system. Their case was the third victory for plaintiffs taking on Monsanto over the controversial glyphosate weed killer, which scientists around the world suspect is carcinogenic to humans.
The Pilliod victory was the third consecutive bellwether court case dealing Monsanto a defeat. The first Roundup trial ended Aug. 19, 2018, with a $289.2 million jury verdict for plaintiff Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, a former California groundskeeper who is terminally ill with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The judge later upheld the jury’s verdict but reduced the punitive damages award, bringing the total award to $78.5 million.
The second case resulted in a March 28, 2019, jury verdict against Monsanto for $80 million, including $75 million in punitive damages.
None of the Monsanto lawsuits that have gone to trial have named as defendants the retailers that sold the product, but that could change as concerns over the herbicide’s safety continue to grow. Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, Target, and other stores continue to sell Roundup.
Will Costco resume selling Roundup in the future? No one knows for certain, but if its decision to pull the product from its shelves was based on the recent court rulings, it’s doubtful Roundup would return anytime soon.
In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s specialized cancer agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) listed glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” The agency’s conclusion was based on a review of about 1,000 scientific studies that pointed to evidence of glyphosate exposure leading to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) even classified Roundup as a “Class C Carcinogen” in 1985 but strangely reversed that classification six years later, saying that there was insufficient evidence for its previous conclusion. Evidence has since emerged in court hearings and trials demonstrating that Monsanto and U.S. regulators worked together to obscure and conceal scientific evidence linking glyphosate to cancer.
According to Dr. Cook, Bayer’s continued insistence that Roundup is safe is dubious because there is evidence that some of the science may have been forged and that Monsanto “may have faked its own safety studies …”
These allegations and the safety of Roundup continue to be hashed out in court. Bayer and Monsanto continue to face more than 13,400 similar cases filed by plaintiffs who were allegedly sickened by Roundup exposure.
Beasley Allen lawyer John Tomlinson, a member of the firm’s Toxic Torts Section, is actively investigating cases where landscapers, farmers, groundskeepers or commercial gardeners used commercial grade Roundup and developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.