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Gardener suing Monsanto over Roundup

By Country News

A Victorian gardener who developed cancer is suing a global manufacturing giant over its popular Roundup weed killer.

But the company — Monsanto — is sticking to its guns, firmly standing by the safety of its glyphosate-based products.

Self-employed landscape gardener Michael Ogalirolo, 54, developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after regularly using the herbicide between 1997 and last year.

In a writ filed in the Victorian Supreme Court on Monday, Mr Ogalirolo alleges Roundup maker Monsanto Australia Pty Ltd failed to warn its Roundup products are dangerous to human health, including that they could cause cancer.

‘‘The defendant knew or ought to have known the use of Roundup products were dangerous for the plaintiff to use and capable of causing serious injury ... in particular causing DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, cancer, kidney disease, infertility and nerve damage, among other devastating illnesses,’’ the writ says.

Mr Ogalirolo, who also suffers chest pain, shortness of breath, depression and anxiety, is suing for injuries, loss and damage.

In the writ, his lawyers said he followed product warnings at all times and was unaware his exposure to Roundup would negatively affect his health.

Parent company of Monsanto, German company Bayer, issued a statement on Tuesday saying it had not received a writ and had ‘‘great sympathy for any individual with cancer’’.

‘‘But the extensive body of science on glyphosate-based herbicides over four decades supports the conclusion that Roundup does not cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,’’ the statement said.

‘‘At the end of the day, whether you’re in the court of law, regulatory agencies or court of public opinion, it’s the science that should matter.’’

News of Mr Ogalirolo’s legal action follows a Victorian Government decision to review its use of the product.

Premier Daniel Andrews said reported dangers of glyphosate-based products coming out of the United States were a cause for concern.

Opposition leader Michael O’Brien said it wasn’t good enough for the government just to review the safety of the product for its staff, and it needed to be a community-wide approach.

Mr Andrews said any further bans, outside of government staff, would need to be part of a national process under consumer law.