St. Louis-Based OnderLaw Joins Ben Crump In Federal Lawsuit To Stop Sale Of Roundup Weedkiller

Federal lawsuit against St. Louis-based Bayer-Monsanto aims for injunction against glyphosate sales due to cancer risk. 

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(ST. LOUIS, MO) August 31, 2020 – St. Louis-based OnderLaw has joined nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump and the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) in support of an action filed August 26, 2020 in U.S. District Court Eastern District of Missouri to prohibit Bayer-Monsanto from continuing to profit from the sale of glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide. Plaintiffs allege that the chemical, which has been banned in Bayer’s home country, Germany, among dozens of other countries worldwide, affects a disproportionate number of Black farmers.

“Roundup-Monsanto’s plot to force farmers to rely on Roundup is one of the most cynical and destructive business plans in the history of our nation,” OnderLaw attorney Jim Onder says. “Because of economic and educational disparities, Black farmers have been disproportionately trapped into using this dangerous product and they are paying for it with their economic freedom, their health, and in some cases, their lives.”

The claim, Case 4:20-cv-01145-NAB, was filed on behalf of NBFA. It alleges “scientific fraud underlying the marketing and sale of glyphosate/Roundup,” saying, “… Monsanto championed falsified data and attacked legitimate studies that revealed Roundup’s dangers. Monsanto led a prolonged campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers, and the general public that Roundup was safe.”

Included in the claim are allegations that Monsanto influenced the EPA to allow glyphosate on the market despite its dangers. Executives from two separate laboratories hired to conduct studies were convicted of fraud for falsifying data regarding pesticides and herbicides. Those studies were used to obtain Roundup’s registration with the EPA.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that active ingredient glyphosate is a likely carcinogen. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) also found an increased risk, linking glyphosate and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. IARC also found that glyphosate causes DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, a precursor for cancer.

NBFA asserts that Black farmers have been disproportionately affected by negative financial and health risks of Roundup and have “suffered and continue to suffer grave injuries … as well as economic hardship, including considerable financial expenses for medical care and treatment.”

The suit alleges that Roundup has created a monopoly on herbicides and seed sales, forcing farmers to buy Roundup-ready seeds resistant to the chemical. Because weeds are increasingly resistant to Roundup, farmers are applying larger and more dangerous amounts of the chemical, and are now having to add additional chemicals, also sold by Bayer-Monsanto, in order for their weed control to remain effective.

Bayer-Monsanto does not include cancer risks on Roundup product labels in the United States. NBFA founder John Boyd says Bayer-Monsanto has never attended conferences or seminars held by its members, and has not reached out to the Black community to discuss safety measures needed to reduce risks.

“The harms caused by Roundup are felt acutely by NBFA’s members: largely rural Black farmers who frequently have limited internet connectivity and/or literacy, and are dependent on their local feed stores for product information,” the claim reads, adding that Black farmers are “utterly unaware of the dangers.”

Onder joined civil rights attorney Ben Crump, representatives of NAACP, Urban League, NBFA, and local community activists for a news conference August 26, 2020 at Bayer-Monsanto’s St. Louis headquarters to announce the filing.

“For more than a century, Black farmers have fought an uphill battle for equality, facing plummeting crop prices, parasitic corporations, racist lenders, and discrimination in the market.

Bayer-Monsanto has been one of the worst offenders of questionable practices, forcing Black farmers to buy Roundup-resistant seeds and into reliance on deadly Roundup weedkiller while they claw the dirt to keep from going under,” Onder said during the press conference.

“Abraham Lincoln may have signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but Black American farmers are still not free,” said Crump. “They live in bondage to Bayer Corporation and its subsidiary Monsanto, the creator and marketer of the deadly weedkiller Roundup, enslaved by their Roundup-resistant seeds.”

“Bayer-Monsanto has gotten fat off the profits of Roundup while farmers who work the land to feed their families are dying,” Onder added. “Every day I talk to farmers who have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a deadly cancer caused by glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. Their hair is falling out from chemotherapy, they’re losing their livelihoods, and they are losing their lives — all because of Bayer-Monsanto’s greed.”

The group told reporters that forcing Bayer-Monsanto to remove Roundup and glyphosate from the market is the first step in repairing the damage done to Black farmers, to the environment, and to all farmers and landscape workers who have been placed at risk.

“We are at a tipping point in our country,” Crump says. “Americans are demanding racial justice, whether in our policing and our criminal justice system or in the value placed on Black and Hispanic lives by corporations that profit while harming them. This is a time when Americans are demanding justice and change.”

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