Costco stops selling controversial Roundup weedkiller

Monsanto just lost a major court battle to a man who said he developed cancer after using Roundup.

Flickr via Mike Mozart
  • Monsanto was just ordered to pay $80 million to a man who said he developed cancer as a result of using the company's weedkiller Roundup.
  • Roundup contains the chemical glyphosate, which the World Health Organization described in 2015 as a "probable carcinogen."
  • Costco will reportedly stop selling Roundup, and a petition is currently calling on other big retailers to do the same.

A federal jury awarded a California man $80 million on Wednesday after finding that Roundup, a Monsanto-made weedkiller, played a role in causing his cancer. It was a major blow for Monsanto, which faces thousands of lawsuits from non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients who used Roundup and later developed cancer. It's the second time a jury has issued a multimillion-dollar verdict against Monsanto in a Roundup-related case.

Now, Costco has reportedly decided to begin to stop selling the popular weedkiller, which contains glyphosate — an herbicide which the World Health Organization described in 2015 as a probable carcinogen. Moms Across America founder Zen Honeycutt, whose petition calling for Costco to stop selling Roundup has more than 150,000 signatures on Change.org, wrote on her website:

"I called the headquarters, and after two days of messages and calls, I did finally confirm with three people that Costco was not ordering Roundup or any glyphosate-based herbicides for the incoming spring shipments."

Costco has yet to issue an official statement on the petition. However, in conversations with the administrative staff at various stores, Big Think has learned that the product was pulled off the floor this week per corporate orders — meaning, Costco's removal of Roundup applies to "all locations."

Meanwhile, Moms Across America has another petition on Change.org calling on Home Depot and Lowe's to pull the product from their shelves:

"We call on Home Depot and Lowe's today to step up as Costco has to protect us, your customers, and stop selling Roundup (and all glyphosate herbicides) now, due to its carcinogenic effects and lack of labeling," the petition reads. "Everyone deserves to know! These products should not be sold to the public!"

But in the wake of Wednesday's verdict, Bayer, the pharmaceutical giant that owns Monsanto, maintains that glyphosate is safe and plans to "vigorously defend" its product and appeal Wednesday's verdict, according to Bloomberg. Both farmers and ordinary consumers use Roundup. If only residential consumers stop using the weedkiller, it likely won't have a big impact on the company's bottom line.

"That's a small fraction of the legacy Monsanto business, so that won't have a significant impact on the results," chemicals analyst Christopher Perrella told Bloomberg. "But it certainly is having a big impact on the market cap of Bayer."

However, it's not immediately clear how much Monsanto would lose if big retailers such as Costco continue to stop buying Roundup. Currently, the signature asking for Lowe's and Home Depot to drop the product has about 90,000 signatures.
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