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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

South Florida: Health Risks and the Herbicide Roundup – How Litigation Helps Weed Through Claims

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weed and grass killer Roundup, has become the most widely used agricultural pesticide in the world. And as its use has exploded, so, too, have claims — and subsequent lawsuits — aiming to link the chemical to certain cancers, birth defects and other health hazards.

Dr. Katherine Drabiak, an attorney and University of South Florida College of Public Health (COPH) assistant professor, recently examined some of the lawsuits against the manufacturer of Roundup and found that documents attorneys routinely gather prior to litigation can provide transparency and help health professionals more knowledgeably guide public policy.

Her article, “Roundup Litigation: Using Discovery to Dissolve Doubt,” was just published in the Georgetown Environmental Law Review.

“There are different value systems at play in product-liability cases,” Dr. Drabiak explained. “On one side, you have corporate players looking at the financial value of a product. And on another side, there are the health risks it may pose. There are different hands pulling strings to make the public, regulators and scientists view the evidence in a particular light. The issues are really complex, but litigation helps peel back the layers.”

How so?

Dr. Drabiak notes that part of litigation is the discovery process — a process by which both parties can request documents, such as meeting minutes and corporate emails. These documents help shed light on whether one party or another is suppressing information or downplaying risks with the product.

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