Unexposed Exposure

Hardeman v monsanto verdict

Today is Monday morning. We still are verdict-less. The waiting game on this verdict is a serious bore. I sit among other writers in the hallway, waiting for any news at all. Some take naps, others wander the windowless halls looking for anything slightly entertaining.

Friday was the Ides of March, which my mom nicely reminded me on the phone Friday morning (beware the Ides of March!). I thanked her for that kind reminder, and promptly realized that, after my hour-long commute, I forgot my ID at home. The federal courthouse rejected me (quite rudely – as though they haven’t seen me every day), and said that without an ID, I’d need Chhabria to come and sign me in. Given that I have no idea how Chhabria feels about me, nor his thoughts on the graphic I posted of him losing his cool, I turned back home to pick up my driver’s license. 

The day passed slowly. Finally, in the late afternoon, journalists were emailed news that there would be no verdict by end-of-day. Not that I am on that prestigious email list – the courthouse hasn’t designated that honor upon me so I get none of the real-time logistical information. 

Upon the announcement of no verdict, I packed my things and left the courthouse, happy to start the weekend off early. As luck would have it (beware the Ides of March!), soon after I left the courthouse and paid for parking, Chhabria called the parties into the courtroom. He announced that the jury had requested a re-read of certain parts of Ed Hardeman’s testimony, which he scheduled for first thing Monday morning. 

VERY interesting.

Of all of the testimonies, that is one that I wouldn’t have anticipated as the source of the holdup on the verdict. Hardeman’s story isn’t unusual among plaintiffs – he had a large property, and sprayed Roundup for years and years. However, Hardeman’s testimony is the only time during Phase 1 that the jury heard about Hardeman’s actual exposure. 

MONDAY MORNING

We all gather at 8:30am. Our diligent courtroom recorder Marla is the star of the show, reading back an hour’s worth of testimony without a stumble. Chhabria offers to take breaks every 20 minutes, but she is willing to plug ahead with the hour-long oration. 

The challenge of the deliberation has lit a fire under the jurors. It is clear that they are adamantly seeking a specific piece of information to move their deliberations along. The woman who never took a note appears to have filled in most of her notepad over the last several days. The three women in the back row lean forward in complete attention. Most of the notes are taken in the beginning of the re-read of Hardeman’s testimony, when he explains that he used a concentrated product and diluted it himself. The hour is up, and the jurors leave the courtroom. 

I think that Hardeman’s story is a sticking point with the jury because there was insufficient testimony surrounding his Roundup exposure and the basic science of the exposure. In contrast to this proceeding, the Johnson trial had so much more time devoted to the explanation of exposure estimates as well as a large visual as to how Roundup penetrates the skin. I vividly remember Dr. Sawyer explaining how Roundup surfactants and glyphosate work together alarmingly well. I also remember sitting in shock, thinking of that same mode of action working on our intestine. 

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From my post on Sawyer’s testimony in the Johnson verdict:

Sawyer is looking to see if Johnson was significantly exposed, and if so, was the exposure dose substantial enough to cause damage to his stem cells and cause NHL?

In an exhibit that was remarkably not ruled out by Bolanos, Sawyer lists the ways in which surfactants can increase glyphosate absorption through the skin:

  • Removal of lipids from the epidermal surface due to surfactant action. On the surface of our skin, we have a lipid structure that is designed to repel aqueous substances. Roundup surfactant POEA breaks down that protective lipid barrier, thus allowing more absorption of glyphosate into the body.
  • Increase the hydration state of the skin, just like a skin cream would
  • Increase of skin contact – when coupled with POEA, the glyphosate spreads over a wider area of skin, like the example of a water droplet + soap on a freshly waxed car
  • Increase of contact time with the skin due to decreased evaporation of water from the droplets containing surfactant
  • Increase of sub-epidermal blood flow due to irritant action of surfactant. When skin is irritated, it turns red. Once the skin becomes irritated, dermal absorption increases. If a person is chronically exposed, skin irritation would fuel greater absorption.
  • Intra-epidermal and sub-epidermal intercellular water accumulation due to the irritant action of the surfactant.

In addition to increasing the penetration of glyphosate into the body, POEA has its own genotoxic profile. 

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Without Sawyer’s explanation, it is of little surprise that the jury doesn’t fully understand the scientific viability as to how Roundup exposure causes cancer. 

FINAL NOTES

Potentially more tomorrow, but at this point, who knows when the verdict will finally arrive…

© 2019 Kelly Ryerson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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