Putting Science on the Stand

In a closely watched decision, a California jury ruled last week that Monsanto owed former Bay Area school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson $289 million in damages.  Though Monsanto maintains that its products are safe, pointing to clean bills of health from a wide array of national health agencies, Johnson's attorneys argued that the company covered up the risks of the weed-killers Roundup and Ranger Pro – which they say were responsible for their client's terminal cancer. The lawsuit thus carefully avoided delving into the complex epidemiology of Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate, arguing instead that the groundskeeper's illness arose from glyphosate's interactions with the weed-killer's other ingredients.  Yet with even less available evidence about the safety of Roundup's formulation than about glyphosate, the verdict has revealed far more about the challenges of evaluating science in the courtroom than about...(Read Full Article)