The case, the hollywood scriptwriter, casts a harsh light on the world of lawyers are predators that take a huge advantage of class actions, become overseas with a business to several tens of billions of dollars. Timothy Litzenburg, lawyer, world-famous since he convinced a jury that the glyphosate marketed by Monsanto had caused the cancer of his client, the gardener Dewayne Johnson, pled guilty, on June 19, attempted extortion : the height of the conviction record obtained against Monsanto (us $ 289 million, down from 78 million), he tried, with another lawyer, to sing two other firms of plant protection products, the threatening of the same hurricane in the media as that imposed on the manufacturer of the Roundup if they do their paying not $ 200 million.
Arrested in December 2019, Timothy Litzenburg was confronted with overwhelming evidence, patiently accumulated by the american justice. His former employer, the law firm The Miller Firm, has distanced himself, fearing to see weakened its proceedings against Monsanto : some 125 000 plaintiffs, according to Bloomberg, claiming to be victims of the Roundup occurred, recruited with a great deal of advertising campaigns. Gold, Timothy Litzenburg is the origin of the strategy that has allowed it to fall to Monsanto, suggesting that the firm had manipulated the health agencies around the world (all consider glyphosate as non-carcinogenic). A "manipulation" that the journalist Gil Rivière-Wekstein tells in a fascinating work that reads like a thriller. Maintenance.
Read also The tombeur of Monsanto before the american justice
The Point : In your book, Glyphosate, the impossible debate, subtitled Disinformation, lies and greenbacks, Timothy Litzenburg holds a central role. Who is he and what his confessions are they important ?
Gil River Wekstein Gil Rivière-Wekstein : Timothy Litzenburg is a young american lawyer who has known his hour of glory thanks to the famous lawsuit between the gardener Dewayne Johnson to Monsanto (acquired by Bayer), in the context of accusations about the glyphosate. In 2018, when the supreme court of the State of California, condemns the firm to a record $ 289 million, as one sees in the media all over the world. Because, as of 2015, Litzenburg has piloted the strategy of the firm, The Miller Firm, who launched a huge operation to try to get billions of dollars from Bayer. It is therefore at the origin of what I believe to be a huge manipulation of public opinion : most of the language elements that we have found in the world press have been developed by him and his task force. Without him, it is very likely that there would have been no d'" case of glyphosate " in the United States.
The strategy of the lawyers, at the time, was to confound the health agencies of the world. How are they taken ?
In 2015, while all the health agencies of the world consider glyphosate to be safe, the international agency for research on cancer (Iarc), an offshoot of the WHO, decided to classify it as a " probable carcinogen ", in the same way as the deli, the hot drinks or the night work. Litzenburg reference of this opinion and sees the opportunity to mount an action. But for it to have any prospect of success, it was necessary to throw the suspicion on all the conflicting opinions, that is to say, those of all health agencies of the world ! The idea is to make believe that Monsanto would have maneuvered in order to trick these health agencies, political leaders and the public, in short the whole world, on the exact nature of glyphosate. It is these lawyers who have developed the Monsanto Papers, in obtaining the declassification of thousands of documents internal to the firm Monsanto. They have built a story around those documents, according to which the firm was controlled and corrupted the world. A american association, USRTK (US Right to Know), who has campaigned against pesticides, has served as an intermediary in delivering to the press the key documents in hand.
They exist, but do not reveal anything at all ! If you read with attention the charges issued, you will find that they do not contain any revelation to prove the carcinogenicity of glyphosate, or even that a lobbying was able to influence the health agencies. Several of them, moreover, like the agencies are european or canadian, have clearly refuted all these accusations. The Monsanto Papers show simply that the firm of Saint-Louis has tried to defend its product, with methods for which no health agency was a dupe, and that it devoted a budget of approximately $ 16 million. On the side of the lawyers, more than 50 million dollars have been invested, notably in the advertising campaign to recruit "victims" !
You ask openly the question of journalistic work. In France, the public has no idea of how these class actions, which are a real business...
You're right. Difficult to understand what is happening in the United States, with sentences that are in the billions of dollars, when we don't know how the judicial system works there. You should also know that in the United States, no lawyer shall be called for the ban of glyphosate, which will remain authorized regardless of the outcome of all these trials. It is a matter for the lawyers, of big business, which will perhaps, moreover, by an agreement with Bayer, which could accept to pay in order to save its ipo and in exchange for the guarantee that his product will always be marketed to the agricultural world. Since the completion of the purchase of Monsanto, at a rate of 63 billion euros, and the capitalization of Bayer has shrunk by 40 %, which represents approximately 39 billion dollars gone up in smoke. According to Bloomberg, Bayer would have already planned a budget of 10 billion dollars to put an end to this costly legal battle.
The law firm The Miller Firm is freed of its former employee. The proceedings against Monsanto can they be challenged ?
Formally no, because Timothy Litzenburg is not the only lawyer involved in the litigation against Monsanto, and The Miller Firm is not the only firm engaged in these multiple procedures : other have smelled the good deal, and there are currently 125 000 complainants ! And all this little world very friendly is very quickly disconnected from the methods of Litzenburg. But his case is especially interesting, in view of the crucial role that he played, and because it symbolizes the methods véreuses of this kind of counsel predators, more obsessed with the amount of money that they will be able to gain as by the desire to defend the widow and the orphan. This will give the ball to the defense attorneys, because it is the doubt created that helped to convince jurors drawn at random. Across the Atlantic, however, nobody is fooled : everyone knows that it is a matter of dollars and not a matter of public health.
It is far from being the case in France. How do you explain that ?
The glyphosate epitomises what a lot of French people don't like. First, it is a pesticide, which is definitely the kind of product that has the worst reputation. Then, it has been manufactured and sold by Monsanto, a company that symbolizes America and its evil capitalism. In effect, there would, obviously, never had to" deal glyphosate " without this original sin of having been developed by the firm of Saint-Louis. For years, the nebula anti-globalization and environmentalist took to target, not least because of its prominent role in the development of GMOS. The demonization of GMOS has in fact led to the demonization of Monsanto, which now represents in the eyes of the general public in a concentrated Voldemort, Darth Vader and Freddy Krueger combined.
But maybe this case would not have been further if the president Macron was not himself fallen into the trap of this nebula green who is campaigning for the end of all pesticides. So definitely rushed, it is committed in a tweet to ban this product in order to please a part of his electorate, without understanding that it bring these countries and whole sectors of French agriculture in a deadlock, then it is clearly a big business across the Atlantic. The last report of the Inrae highlights that all schemes may not happen for glyphosate, and for those who can, this is done by practices much less friendly to the environment. Today, we know that the Government is biting the fingers, and the president Macron seeks an exit politically acceptable. Yet it exists : it is enough that he decided that France would follow to the letter the scientific opinion that will give the european experts in charge of the rehomologation of glyphosate, which will take place in 2022. But follow the scientific advice, today, takes a lot of courage.Updated Date: 23 June 2020, 12:33