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[dupe] Monsanto ordered to pay 2B dollars to couple with cancer (nytimes.com)
47 points by idiliv 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments





Thorough discussion earlier (241 points, 17 hours ago, 234 comments):

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19904250


To clarify with this staggering figure. The couple's lawyer requested 1 billion each, the jury reached a verdict in their favour regarding the cancer but they don't get to say "yes we find Monsanto guilty but only for X payout". So the actual payout will likely be in the range of 1/10th of that as they always get reduced by the judge.

I appreciate this clarification, but still find this a bit absurd. I'm all for making corporations responsible for their actions as it surely doesn't happen enough, but even $200M is a huge amount of money for one couple.

Wasn't this used by many farmers?

Making a small number of huge payouts does not seem like justice for the majority of people affected.


Punitive damages came largely out of the Ford Pinto cases because prior to that corporate leaders would just do the calculations, figure out that the limited amount of damage/fines allowed by the law is cheaper than the cost of fixing the issue. Punitive damage is in a way meant to be absurd. The idea that the sky is the limit is meant to make those calculations impossible or very risky and thus compel corporations to fix the issue once they know about it. There are some unintended consequences of course but often times when you see such cases there are usually a history of knowing neglect or willful ignorance. In the other famous punitive damage case involving McDonald's, there was a trail of complaints to McDonald's about how hot they made their coffee (they did this on purpose because people who get coffee in the morning tend to be drivers so extra hot coffee means right temperature when they get to their office). Even then, McDonald's was only found to be partially at fault. Also many of the tobacco cases demonstrated a long history of tobacco companies knowing the health effects of smoking and lied about them.

The way these cases are sometimes reported makes American courts look crazy and leave out a lot of context and history.


That's interesting. How did you get the ratio of 1/10th?

I wonder if there's research that systematically tracks the difference between what papers publish and the actual payout over time?


Just a rough guess, googling monsanto payouts (though now it turns up pretty much only this payout) gets you a few more verdicts which have been cut to below $100 million. I figured this couple will see a similar payout too.

This is what epa said:

Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency issued an interim review that said the agency “continues to find that there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label and that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.”

Here is what EFSA said:

http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/glyphosate

In September 2017, articles appeared in a number of European press outlets casting doubt on the integrity of the EU assessment of glyphosate, in particular the content of the assessment report submitted to EFSA by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). EFSA responded with a statement in which it defended the robustness of the EU assessment and pointed out that the allegations were based on a misunderstanding of the peer review process.

This drug has been used forever so there should be a lot of data available.


If that's what it takes to make these companies not behave like absolute gangsters so be it.

Most big to massive companies wipe their butts with a couple million dollars fines as a "cost of doing business".


This won't do anything. The appeals court will reverse it because scientific evidence disagrees with the jury and the court shouldn't have allowed whatever evidence convinced the jury in the first place.

Monsanto might be evil, but don't fight them with evil. The end of those means is evil.


Finally a sum of money which is at least at the same scale as the wrongdoing.

They have to shut Monsanto down and sentence the decision makers.


Like the EPA? https://www.epa.gov/ingredients-used-pesticide-products/glyp...

A legal system that allows $2B punitive awards based on factual findings contrary to the official position of the government enforcing that legal system is not a legal system, but simply mob rule.


>contrary to the official position of the government enforcing that legal system is not a legal system, but simply mob rule.

Mob rule? It’s the judicial system, one of 3 branches of government designed specifically to place checks and balances on the other branches, it’s the exact opposite of mob rule.

Mob rule would be the EPA deciding for everyone what the science is and not allowing any due process or acces to the courts to challenge the same.

You do know it came out at trial how Monsanto was able to influence the EPA including delaying the re-review of roundup ingredients , which was required by federal law, to allow their acquisition to go through?

Do you think it’s just coincidence 13,000 plaintiffs were diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma that worked with roundup for years even though those statistics are inconsistent with the general population?


Or a symptom of regulatory capture.

This is really absurd. All evidence points to Roundup not causing cancer, but apparently science is irrelevant to the law.

That's not true. There have been many studies indicating a possible link between Roundup and cancer, which is why it was listed as"possible carcinogen"and even banned in France. Besides, Monsanto even tried to make studies that showed no link between the two. Science does matter

Science does matter. The evidence is roundup doesn't cause cancer. When something is studied a lot you will find outliers that show the wrong result.

Monsanto was evil (they don't exist anymore, though bayer may well be worse) doesn't mean that they are wrong.


i wish i could dump a gallon of roundup on everyone who's so cocksure. Honestly.

Just don't get it in my eyes or down my lungs. It is safer than the vinegar I have in my kitchen...

Those Monsanto checks keeping your heat on or something?

there's a big difference between "possible" and "probable"

radio waves are classified as possible carcinogens.


It's on the list of "possible carcinogens" along with coffee, red meat, and 'very hot beverages'.

Preserved meat is IARC category 1, "carcinogenic" Red meat is IARC category 2a "probably carcinogenic" as is "very hot beverages above 65C" Coffee is IARC 3 "Not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans"

Glyphosate is 2a, "probably carcinogenic".

Note that the IARC categories are not very useful by themselves because they are only non-quantitative assessments of whether the evidence supports carcinogenicity, they are not assessments of how carcinogenic a substance actually is.

Certainly there is no evidence that glyphosate is some horrific, world ending super toxin. Some studies have found that there is an elevated cancer risk with extensive occupational exposure, other studies have not found that.

If I was going to do a cancer risk audit of my own life, reducing or eliminating the use of glyphosate from my own garden would not be on the top 50 things I would do.




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