A group of Nebraska farmers is suing the giant seed and chemical company Monsanto in federal court, saying the company's top-selling herbicide gave them cancer.
Farmers Larry Domina, Robert Dickey, and Royce Janzen, along with agronomist Frank Pollard, have all been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. They were exposed to Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller in their work on the farm.
They allege that Roundup caused their illness and that Monsanto downplayed research showing the chemical poses a cancer risk.
In a statement, Monsanto said the science "simply does not support their claims when it comes to glyphosate." Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup.
Last year the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a panel of scientists assembled by the World Health Organization, determined glyphosate probably can cause cancer.
The IARC finding is cited in the Nebraska lawsuit.
But another WHO panel recently came to a different conclusion. The Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR), convened by the WHO and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, determined glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer.
The two conclusions don't necessarily contradict each other. IARC judges whether it is at all possible for a chemical to cause cancer, while the JMPR considers the risk of developing cancer from the levels of pesticide residue on food.
Roundup is one of the most heavily used weedkillers in the country. Most of the corn and soybeans planted in the U.S. are genetically modified to withstand Roundup so farmers can kill weeds but not their crop.