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Juries Don’t Decide Glyphosate Toxicology. Scientists Do.

In the case of glyphosate, though, the legal system decides verdicts and awards – so far.

So, does a liability jury decision change the toxicology of Roundup?

That was the title of Allan Felsot’s general session address at this week’s North Central Weed Science Society meeting in Milwaukee. 

Easy answer? No, says the Washington State University professor of entomology and environmental toxicology. 

Last August, a California jury awarded Dewayne "Lee" Johnson, a groundskeeper and pest-control manager, $289 million in compensation for development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that the plaintiff and his attorneys said stemmed from use of glyphosate. The judge in the case has since reduced the award to $78 million.
“The lawsuits do not change the toxicology of glyphosate,” he says.  

The glyphosate lawsuits – and there are around 9,500 of them currently being aggregated in the legal system – were spurred by a 2015 International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report that said glyphosate was a “probable” carcinogen. IARC is the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization.

The report has been heavily criticized since then, with a 2017 Reuters report saying “non-carcinogenic” findings were edited out. 

Felsot says the IARC report runs counter to numerous toxicology reports that have been run by several domestic and foreign regulatory bodies, including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

Application Technology 

Application Technology was another topic covered during this year’s NCWSS meeting by Dennis Sullivan, a performance engineer with John Deere, and included the following: 

“ExactApply is like a Swiss Army knife,” says Sullivan. “There are a lot of things you can do with it.”

One feature is John Deere’s Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) system that offers three times the pulsing frequency of traditional PWM systems on a wide variety of nozzles. The sprayer can run at a consistent pressure and droplet size, regardless of sprayer speed and application flow rate. This allows for improved spay coverage across an entire field, say John Deere officials. 

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