A federal USA judge on Tuesday allowed hundreds of lawsuits alleging that Monsanto Co's glyphosate-containing weed-killer Roundup causes cancer to proceed to trial, finding that there was sufficient evidence for a jury to hear the cases.
Dewayne Johnson's lawsuit is the first case to go to trial among hundreds of lawsuits saying Roundup caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The plaintiff's opening argument focusing on choice -- attorney Brent Wisner telling the jury Monsanto took away his client's ability to choose by not disclosing the potential dangers of Roundup weed killer.
The lawsuits allege that glyphosate, the herbicide in the widely used Roundup, can cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma - and that Monsanto didn't warn consumers or regulators about that alleged risk.
On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled there was sufficient evidence for a jury to hear the case.
While the jury's decision won't have any effect on the class-action suit, it will likely be a bellwether for other future proceedings.
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Many government regulators have rejected a link between the active ingredient in Roundup - glyphosate - and cancer.
While Chhabria's ruling is not binding on them, state court judges have been closely following the federal litigation and expert hearings.
In a statement, Monsanto Vice President Scott Partridge said the company would "continue to defend these lawsuits with robust evidence that proves there is absolutely no connection between glyphosate and cancer".
Monsanto faces 5,000 lawsuits nationwide alleging Roundup caused cancer, mainly in state courts.
A federal judge in Sacramento in February blocked California from requiring that Roundup carry a label stating that it is known to cause cancer, saying the warning is misleading because nearly all regulators have concluded that there is no evidence glyphosate is carcinogenic. Farmers in California, the most agriculturally productive state in the US, use it on more than 200 types of crops.
Claims against Monsanto received a boost in 2015, when the International Agency for Research on Cancer - part of the World Health Organization - announced that two pesticides, including glyphosate, are "probably carcinogenic to humans". Homeowners use it on their lawns and gardens. The agency noted that scientific studies from other countries concluded the same.