They are some of the most famous product liability lawsuits in recent memory. The public was shocked when Roundup, the world's most popular weed killer, was first linked to diagnoses of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in some users and riveted by the trials that followed. When the dust settled, federal and state juries had awarded the first three plaintiffs a combined $2.3. billion and Monsanto, the makers of Roundup, would go on to settle even more lawsuits for a reported $11 billion. All for a product that millions of people worldwide have sitting in their sheds, having been assured for decades by Monsanto and multiple government organizations, including the EPA, that the product was entirely safe. Lee Johnson, the plaintiff in the landmark first lawsuit against the company, testified that he had been told repeatedly that the product he used almost daily in his job as a school groundskeeper was "safe enough to drink."
TOXIC EXPOSURE: The True Story Behind the Monsanto Trials and the Search for Justice (Johns Hopkins University Press; February 28, 2023) is the first book to go behind the scenes of these now-infamous trials. Chadi Nabhan, a board-certified hematologist, and a medical oncologist who practiced oncology and treated lymphoma patients for years, served as an expert witness in the first three blockbuster trials against Monsanto and continues to be consulted as an expert for the lawsuits that are still ongoing. In this, his first book, he gives readers the inside story, not only on the research that supports the link between glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) and cancer, but also in the decades-long campaign by Monsanto, aided by some of our most powerful institutions, to deny and obscure that link for financial gain.
Nabhan, who had previously turned down opportunities to serve as an expert witness, decided to get involved in the Monsanto lawsuits because he saw them as a David-versus-Goliath story, one that tugged at him, as an immigrant to the U.S. from Syria who recognized the feeling of being treated unfairly and dismissed. He also understood Roundup's pervasiveness on the market meant that many millions of people worldwide were using it every day, with little thought to its inherent danger. Nabhan uses his position as an expert witness to walk readers through the research he used to shape his testimony and to take people along behind the scenes of the trials, introducing them to the key players on all sides. The result is a riveting courtroom drama, where life, death, and billions of dollars hang in the balance.