By Alyssa Erdley
Observer Staff Writer 

Los Angeles County Bans Monsanto's Roundup In the Wake of 2 Huge Jury Verdicts

Whether Roundup causes cancer or not, municipal users like SM are setting themselves up for huge financial liability.

 

File Photo

Santa Monica municipal workers on Main Street. The City of Santa Monica continues to use Roundup, the use of which is defended by Assistant Director of Public Works Dean Kubani.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors banned the use of any glyphosate-type weed killer on county property pending more information about the chemical's potential health and environmental effects.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the popular weed-killer Roundup, a product of Monsanto. To date, two California juries have determined that glyphosate caused the cancer alleged by plaintiffs. In 2018, Dewayne Johnson was awarded $289 million for the terminal cancer he asserted had been caused by his use of Roundup during his work as a school groundskeeper. Earlier this month, a San Francisco jury determined that Roundup was responsible for the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of plaintiff Edwin Hardeman, who'd used the weed-killer for 30 years. Since the judge in that case, Vince Chhabria, split the trial into two phases, a causation phase and a damages phase, no award amount has yet been determined against Monsanto for Mr. Hardeman.

On Tuesday, March 19, the LA County Board of Supervisors agreed with a recommendation by Board members Kathryn Barger and Sheila Kuehl that Roundup should not be used on County property. Different organizations have come to different conclusions regarding glyphosate. The World Health Organization classified glyphosate in 2015 as "probably carcinogenic to humans." However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the European Chemicals Agency and others do not believe glyphosate is likely to cause cancer in humans.


But the conclusions that might matter most are those decided in a court room. There are between 9,000 and 11,000 lawsuits pending against Monsanto, a company now owned by the German company Bayer. Shares of Bayer fell 12 percent after the jury came down against the company in the Hardeman trial.

It hardly matters if Roundup causes cancer or not if those using it or directing it to be used - particularly in public places - are setting themselves up for huge financial liability.

The City of Santa Monica continues to use Roundup, the use of which is defended by Assistant Director of Public Works Dean Kubani. Kubani claims the weed killer is not used in park playgrounds or dog runs. However, area residents believe they have seen Roundup applied in areas used by the public, including children.

Kubani says he was aware of only one city (previous to the LA County ban) who has completely eliminated the use of Roundup. Irvine ceased using the weed killer and now weeds solely by hand. "Their staff have reported that this change has resulted in an increase in their labor costs for public landscape maintenance and a decrease in the efficacy of their weed control and the overall quality of their landscaped areas," Kubani reported.



Given the number of people using Santa Monica public parks who apparently need work and money, it might make sense to halt the use of a chemical that opens the city to expensive lawsuits and use money dedicated to homelessness for weed-picking wages.

City employee paving sidewalk outside a housing project on Lincoln Blvd.

 

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