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April 2, 2019

Retired U.S. Government Scientist Testifies Today in Roundup Cancer Trial

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(Transcript from today’s proceedings)

Retired U.S. government scientist Christopher Portier will kick off live testimony today in the third Roundup cancer lawsuit to go to trial. He is expected to tell jurors in Pilliod v. Monsanto how regulators have repeatedly missed key signs that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides cause cancer.

Portier’s testimony is expected to run all day today and possibly into Wednesday. The current case involves a married couple – Alva and Alberta Pilliod – who both developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma after many years of use of Roundup.

Portier is one of the plaintiffs’ star expert witnesses. He was an “invited specialist” to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) when the unit of the World Health Organization met in March of 2015 in Lyon, France to review years of published and peer-reviewed scientific studies about glyphosate. At that meeting, IARC classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen, though Portier had no vote in the outcome.

Portier resides now most of the time in a remote village in Switzerland, but before his retirement, he led the National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to that role, Portier spent 32 years with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, where he served as associate director, and director of the Environmental Toxicology Program, which has since merged into the institute’s National Toxicology Program.

Monsanto’s attorneys and chemical industry allies have criticized Portier and sought to discredit his opinion that glyphosate herbicides cause cancer. They cite part-time work he has done in retirement for the  nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund, and his role as an expert witness for plaintiffs’ attorneys in the Roundup litigation, though the litigation only began after the IARC classification.

Following Portier’s testimony, plaintiffs’ lawyers expect to put Charles “Bill” Jameson on the stand as a second expert witness. Jameson is a chemist and toxicologist specializing in carcinogenesis.  He has worked as a senior chemist for the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. He also has consulted for the World Health Organization and served as a member of the IARC working group.

The trial is expected to run into mid-May. Lawyers for the Pilliods have filed a list of exhibits they plan to present at trial that runs more than 280 pages. Monsanto’s list of exhibits runs more than 130 pages.