The days of plausible deniability are over

If you are an administrator, public or private, you are liable for the workplace practices that occur under your supervision or authority. Likewise, if you are an employer, public or private, you are responsible for the actions and inactions of your administrators/managers.

If I am talking like a lawyer, it’s because the lawyers are indeed talking. If you are an employer, public or private, it’s probably a good idea that you start listening.

There are now three separate court decisions against Monsanto/Bayer concluding that “RoundUp” (a glyphosate based product), has caused or significantly contributed to the development of cancer (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) in the plaintiffs who brought suit.

Three separate judges, three separate juries, three separate sets of circumstances, four different plaintiffs — all yielding the same or similar conclusion.

The most recent decision awarded two plaintiffs over $1 billion apiece. Granted that amount will likely be reduced upon appeal, but even the lowest award in the three cases cited exceeds $78 million.

News reports indicate over 13,000 (and counting) additional plaintiffs have filed similar lawsuits against Monsanto, alleging their products cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma and that the company has hidden the risks.

It’s only a matter of time, until plaintiffs attorneys shift their gaze to large employers that knew or should have known about the danger these chemicals posed to their employees and the public.

One would hope that public/private “risk reduction managers”are taking notice, and taking action. Even if the mayor, the council, legislators and the governor are still living in the dark ages and believe that “there is nothing wrong with RoundUp” and thus are not concerned about worker safety or the public’s health, one would think they would at least worry about the financial exposure.

Faced with a relentless flow of science (and court cases) pointing to the health risks of various toxic herbicides and pesticides used or regulated by their administration, history will show they were proactive and erred on the side of protecting the health of their workers and the public – or that they put the interests of big business and corporate profits first and foremost.

The state of Hawaii and the various counties use large amounts of RoundUp and related products daily for “weed control” along highways AND in our public schools and parks.

How many gallons or pounds of herbicide is used in Hawaii is anyone’s guess because the state does not require the reporting of glyphosate or RoundUp related products. I repeat, the state has no clue how much is used, purchased or sold in Hawaii. This fact alone, to me anyway (and possibly to a jury in the future), demonstrates gross negligence on the state’s part.

The state attorney general and county legal advisers are also no doubt, aware of the three separate court cases and of the 13,000 (and counting) plaintiffs who are waiting for their turn.

If they are fulfilling their fiduciary duty, the state and county legal advisers have informed the governor and the mayor of the existence of the legal issue and potential liability.

Perhaps a legislator or councilmember has requested a formal legal opinion (or not), asking the attorney general to opine as to the state or County liability for failure to protect its workers and the public from the widespread use of these products on public lands and around public facilities (thinks schools, parks, walking paths etc).

If such a legal opinion were provided, I suspect it would show that in light of the recent court developments, it is in the best interest of both the state and the counties to eliminate and/or severely reduce the use of these chemicals.

Action to reduce or eliminate the use of herbicides can be taken by the rank and file managers, their supervisors and department and division heads today without the need for a change in the law. Labor unions can also demand today greater protections for their workers.

Principals, individual teachers and parents can and should engage this conversation and request an elimination of the use of herbicides on school grounds today.

Ultimately our political leaders must take action. But even without their action, the problem can be solved today — but the public must write the letters, make the calls and demand action.

The days of plausible deniability are over.


Gary Hooser formerly served in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kauai County Council and was former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) and is executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.

  1. Uncleaina May 15, 2019 6:32 am Reply

    Oh boy it’s Gary trying to be relevant again! I thought he was a lawyer because if he was he’d know that just because there’s been some large lawsuits won against Monsanto it doesn’t change the scientific results that number in the thousands. Roundup probably isn’t good for the environment no doubt, but it’s not the magical evil conspiracy plot that Gary acts like it is. Dude went to Basel to be on TV! Sorry Gary, you’ve squeezed all the juice you’re gonna get out of this fruit trying to get re-elected and most of us see right through your posturing.

  2. Charlie Chimknee May 15, 2019 9:21 am Reply

    Aloha Gary, Mahalo for the very informative explanation of the liability issue over the poisons all around us.

    How much money does Monsanto and BAYER have, that would be my concern if I was cancer victim of their chemicals number 12,999 or worse 13,000…when will they belly up and declare bankruptcy, thus accelerating the attorneys’ added attacks on the government Defendants’ use of these same carcinogens…GLYPHOSATE, ETC.

    The door is ajar as to the former reckless, naive, or ignorant use of these carcinogenic chemicals, and now any further use is not only double reckless but thrice careless and with provable harmful intention against keiki, youth, adults, and Tutu too.

    And clearly it does not stop there. The knowledgeable wild profitable use, and sale, for bodily ingestion, application, (and clothing wear) of other carcinogens is starting to rear its ugly cancerous and other disease entity Hydra Multi-Head Monster.

    You see just as deadly as cancerous Glyphosate,is a long, a very long, list of other chemicals not just in the agricultural industry being applied to our food (just one other being recently condemned Chlorpyrifos), but also other carcinogens being added to our bottled and packaged foods and other chemicals added to the live animals we eat. Grandma always said “we shouldn’t let them corporations take over our food”.

    Home Depot should stop their sales of poisons, at least being sold on open shelves where when walking by you can smell or you naturally sneeze away, excrete, the airborne chemicals leaking through the plastic containers or packaging.

    Human Ingestion of petroleum, you know, like oil, the stuff from oil wells and coal mines, and oil sands, etc., is already known to be carcinogenic, that is cancer causing. That’s horrible, you see, because the huge chemical companies are converting these forms of petroleum into petrochemicals. Then…

    These petrochemicals are able to be chemically rearranged to match or near match the chemical makeup of things found in nature like plants and any other things that have molecular configuration.

    Let’s take a simple one made by nature…VITAMIN B for example. Vitamin B has many components. As a side note Vitamins do not afford nutrition unless they are ingested with all the whole food co-factors of Vitamin B, and that goes for all the Vitamins found in food in nature. Studies done by people from the NIH, National Institute of Health, have shown that isolated high dose vitamins are worthless to nutrition and a waste of your hard earned income. Usable vitamins are not found in bottles, tables, or liquids. That’s sad as we need natural vitamins to survive a long healthy active life.

    God made the vitamins and put them in natural food. If you want, and you need, say, Vitamin E, you must eat the foods that naturally contain Vitamin E and all its co-factors that are found in its food carrier, for example, Avocado. Avocado has Vitamin E and all its God given co-factors. Vitamin E in gelatin pearls lacks some of the many co-factors necessary for it to be beneficial to our health; and worse if the Vitamin E is made from petrochemicals.

    Co-factors are like like a catalyst, they make something react, make it work, and be able to be used by our bodies. For example, resin that makes surfboards and boats by applying the wet and runny resin to the fiberglass structure, well, the resin requires a very small amount of catalyst liquid to make the resin turn hard, about as hard as glass and stiffens the fiberglass cloth into a hard shell…thus your outside to your surfboard or boat hull.

    Your vitamins need to originate or come inside your fresh food In order to work as a nutrient in your body; and not made from petrochemicals (carcinogenic) that are added in or called a supplement.

    Back to point. For example nowadays, much of our supermarket bread, rolls, and pastries have added to them Thiamine, or Vitamin B6. This vitamin in processed food is not isolated from its original source of Nature’s food but is made from petrochemicals (carcinogenic). Then the name is changed from Thiamine to Thiamine Mononitrate. Read the Labels…! ! !

    Thiamine Mononitrate is man made reconfigured chemicals (petrochemicals) made to chemically resemble the real God Given Vitamin B6…but it ain’t the natural Vitamin B6 that come in natural grains like wheat. It’s by being a petrochemical, a carcinogen, it’s a substitute for the real thing. You wonder, why do they do this. Some believe, or understand that decades of eating artificial foods and food additives leads to chronic illness degenerative diseases, which causes you to go to the doctor for Disease Care which comes after you have lost your health. Why would our own corporations subject us to this type of treatment after all of our loyalty supporting their businesses?

    As a society, the people, with the lawyers to represent them, will bring out the truth and will steer, thank God, the human food supply industry back toward the very food humans and all living creatures have survived on since the beginning of time…and that is God Given food not factory or laboratory food.

    Much of the medical industry Disease Care drugs are made out of petrochemicals. The very drugs we rely on In Disease Care is really introducing more petrochemical carcinogens into our bodies. However they can produce gratifying if not addictive use when it comes to intractable pain, or relentless ill conditions. Better to find the Cause of the diseases and Prevent them. Eating live natural fresh foods are a form of Personal Health Care and a first step in Prevention of Disease.

    Final point is that these lawsuits are not about the money, because how many $ Billion Dollar lawsuits can continue successfully without running the chemical companies out of business…the blessing is that it will more and more steer our knowledge and food industry back toward following the laws of Nature.

    It would appear that the God of all the universes has put on Earth our Mother Nature as Earth Manager (Global Warming is Mother Nature telling us Pollution of all forms is killing our planet and the life forms on it…we’re next) best we follow her directions.

    Ignoring nature, like the use of poisons to produce our food has lead to, we do not know how many cancers that will surface in humans in the future. And how many in animals as well. In S.E. Asia a study was done on the deaths of porpoise that had washed up in the beaches of a single gulf or very large bay. Almost all the porpoise had died of cancer. Polluted sea waters from human industrial waste apparently cause cancer in more than humans.

    Poison Chemicals, petrochemicals, on the food, in the food, becoming the food, and even in our clothing…Fire Retardant infant and child clothing…??? And Polyester (petrochemicals) replacing natural cotton in our clothing?

    Many believe that our bodies are the Temple of our Lord. So treat it as such…or you may be the next plaintiff against a huge corporation or a small county government with only your kids to reap your financial $ AWARD, because you will be long gone from Petrochemical Poisoning.

    Mahalo for reading,


  3. Facts more plausible than deniability May 15, 2019 9:38 am Reply

    In two court cases—one decided in mid-March and the other last year— juries have ruled that glyphosate, sold in non-generic form under the trade name Roundup and made by Monsanto (now a division of Bayer), caused the cancer of workers who applied the herbicide. Neither case addressed the issue of whether glyphosate might cause harm to humans exposed to parts per billion or parts per trillion traces of the pesticide found in foods. Cases like these that revolve around the question of whether a particular chemical is the cause of cancer or another illness are not science. They rely on lay juries attempting to make sense of complicated and often contradictory medical studies and expert opinions. Science rarely renders absolute ‘verdicts’; it addresses probabilities. It’s been shown time and again that when juries are asked to evaluate studies that conclude ‘substance x is unlikely to cause cancer’, they almost always assume the worst, that because the study did not definitively conclude it ‘does not’ or ‘could not cause cancer’. What are the facts with Monsanto? There is no substantial evidence that glyphosphate causes cancer. All evidence for this link is weak. The jury members are not likely capable of understanding the complexity of cancer, risk factors, scientific evidence, as well as the fact that mouse evidence of cancer does not translate to human risk. Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in the US. Your odds of developing this type of cancer is 1 in 47. Additionally,you can not prevent this type of lymphoma. It is also important to note that risk factors are not definitive in determining if you will get cancer. If this was the case, every single person who smokes cigarettes would get cancer. The general public is regularly educated on the risks of smoking, but they are not really “educated” on what risk factors actually mean. An “increased risk” does not mean you will get cancer from said risk, it means your percentage has slightly gone up. there is no real way to prevent Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma as most people have no real risk factors that can be changed. Cancer is one of the worst diseases our bodies can do to us. I have sympathy for people who suffer from cancer, however, We can not place blame on things that have not caused our illness.
    Of course, a jury decision, while significant, is not a substitute for scientific research. Juries have also gotten science wrong, most infamously the decision in the ‘Scopes Monkey Trial’ in which high school teacher John Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution, which creationists contended was not scientifically supported.
    International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which does not look at the risk posed by a particular chemical. Rather, it examines hazard—whether a substance might cause cancer at any exposure rate or dose, even unrealistically high ones. In 2015, IARC put it in the category “probably carcinogenic to humans,” along with red meat and hot beverages. But there was less evidence of carcinogenicity than the agency found for bacon, salted fish, oral contraceptives and wine, among many examples.
    Over more than 40 years, the agency has assessed approximately 1,000 substances and activities, ranging from arsenic and beer and coffee to sunbathing and hairdressing. It has found only one agent or activity that was “probably not” likely to cause cancer in humans. Under a hazard designation, almost any substance can be judged toxic, even water, if the dose is extreme and the exposure time is long enough. The hazard-risk distinction is almost totally absent from the popular and media discussion of whether glyphosate might pose any serious danger.
    “No pesticide regulatory authority in the world currently considers glyphosate to be a cancer risk to humans at the levels at which humans are currently exposed,” Health Canada wrote in January 2019.
    Agricultural Health Study has monitored the incidence rate of multiple cancers in 54,251 pesticide applicators, including 44,932 who had handled glyphosate since 1993. The study found no association between glyphosate and any solid tumors or lymphoid malignancies overall. The data is ambiguous in workers exposed at very high levels.
    More than a dozen regulatory and research agencies have conducted long-term studies, reviews and assessments to determine whether glyphosate, when used as labeled, increases the risk of certain cancers. They are unanimous in one finding: There is no evidence that glyphosate poses any harm to consumers worried about trace residues in their food. Despite many blogs by anti-biotechnology advocacy groups touting ‘studies’ (usually not very scientific) finding glyphosate in beer or cereal at the parts per billion or parts per trillion level, or finding traces of glyphosate in blood or urine, there is no scientific study that suggests those trace residues pose any threat to humans.
    Risk Assessments indicating zero or very low risk:
    EPA, National Toxicology Program, Health Canada, European Chemicals Agency, European Food Safety Authority, BFR ( Germany), ANSES ( France), Federal Department of Home Affairs ( Swiss), Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, Environmental Protection Authority ( NZ), ANVISA ( Brazil), Food Safety Commission of Japan, Rural Development Administration ( Korea), WHO, Food and agriculture Organization of The United Nations.
    Facts are always more plausible than “herbicide” chasing litigants and lawyers.

  4. Charlie Chimknee May 15, 2019 11:27 am Reply

    Aloha FMPTD…mahalo for your well written and much information.

    It is clear from what you say the you are be9ng a NAY-sayer regarding this poison issue.

    You rely on the very science to back your points that is the same science that created glyphosate and the other world pollutants. The answer to the question is ambiguous…are you on the side of the good or the bad guys.

    One thing you did ignore is that poison of any kind or flavor (by the way most artificial flavors are made from carcinogenic petrochemicals) are in their toxicity chained to the effect of “accumulation” of mixing amounts and types of poison over decades of time and not single evaluations of one item.

    Prescription drugs give warning to not mix them with other drugs or alcohol.

    As a society, at this time we as individuals are overwhelmed by more carcinogenic petrochemicals than ever in the history of human life of every form, including humans and the ones which have already become extinct from pollution.

    One pollutant loser in the news lately is our own coral reefs, victim of sun tan lotions, but also accumuuylatedly victimized by agricultural run off from glyphosate and other petrochemicals. what % of coral reef death os from sun tan lotion vs. glyphosate…? ? ? Who Cares, there’s no time for argument…whether coral reefs or humans…get the point Mr. FMPTD…!

    Nay-sayers are often people that are willing to take chances…like partaking in dangerous sports…it’s not possible to die from that…!

    But over the accumulation of time…some do…! ! !

    Mahalo for reading…


    1. Facts more plausible than deniability May 15, 2019 2:08 pm Reply

      For those who believe, no explanation is necessary…for those who do not believe, no explanation will suffice.

  5. Charlie Chimknee May 15, 2019 11:33 am Reply

    Aloha Gary, the perfect and in place replacement for weed killer g;yphosarte is human power…prisoners and physically able people on public assistance who are not working 40 hours a week.

    And for corporate farms how about $15/hour field workers who can patrol and protect the crops…for weed control.



  6. Robin Clark May 15, 2019 2:04 pm Reply

    Please read Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2019 “Roundup of Cancer Evidence”: “The EPA’s glyphosphate judgment…follows similar judgments by regulators from the European Union, Australia, Japan and other developed countries after comprehensive evaluations. A longitudinal study published in 2017 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute tracked cancer incidence among nearly 45,000 licensed pesticide applicators who used Roundup. The study found that “in unlagged analyses, glyphosphate was not statistically significantly associated with cancer at any site.””

    Never trust a jury of laymen to make judgements on the basis of science!

    ps Notice the full page add in the GI from the ambulance chasing law firm seeking glyphosphate clients.

    1. james May 16, 2019 6:57 am Reply

      I trust juries of lay people much more than corporate shills. The juries in these 3 cases heard from multiple experts paid for by Monsanto, re-pleat with all of the studies you mention, as well as experts hired by the plaintiffs and came to a decision based on all of the facts, expert opinion and witness testimony. Just because you disagree, doesn’t mean these jury’s decisions were wrong. So, if you had your way, we would scrap the jury system and let paid experts decide civil cases? No thanks. Flawed as it is, our system of justice is still the best in the world. It is a beautiful thing that the most powerful, richest corporations in the world can be brought to justice by 12 ordinary citizens. The founding fathers came up with the best justice system ever designed.

  7. Amused May 16, 2019 3:41 am Reply

    “or that they put the interests of big business and corporate profits first and foremost.”

    It’s so tiresome to hear Hooser keep using this schtick. Is it so hard to believe they just chose the most effective, least harmful product that can do the job?

    Also, let’s not pretend that juries — and personal injury lawyers smelling big bucks — are driven by science. These verdicts are all about emotion.

    As for Charlie — hey, be my guest. Get out there and start weeding!

  8. Uncleaina May 16, 2019 4:51 pm Reply

    Yeah and a jury found OJ not guilty-that shows how much you can trust the verdict in a jury trial.

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