Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, claims that Roundup targets enzymes supposedly found only in plants — not in people — but this is blatantly false. The truth is, Roundup targets enzymes found in both plants AND people — specifically in our gut bacteria — which are vulnerable to potent pesticides like Roundup. Monsanto’s claim — that Roundup targets enzymes “not found in people” — is objectively false and inherently misleading.
A lawsuit has been filed against Monsanto Company for false and misleading advertising. You can read the complaint below.
- ELVIS MIRZAIE, an individual
- EDISON MIRZAIE, an individual
- ROMI MIRZAIE, an individual
- Montanto Company, a Delaware corporation
COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES, PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION, AND PERMANENT INJUNCTION; FALSE AND MISLEADING ADVERTISING
Plaintiffs, ELVIS MIRZAIE, EDISON MIRZAIE, and ROMI MIRZAIE, are natural persons and residents of Los Angeles County. Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit on behalf of themselves, as individuals, and on behalf of all other similarly situated persons in California. Plaintiffs demand jury trial.
Defendant, MONSANTO COMPANY, (“MONSANTO”), is a Delaware corporation, Calif. Secretary of State Entity No. C2362863, in “active” status, with a principal place of business in St. Louis, Mo. Defendant advertises and sells goods in Los Angeles County.
DOES 1 – 10 are herein sued under fictitious names; when their true names are known, Plaintiff will amend. Along with the named Defendant, each DOE Defendant is a proximate cause of Plaintiffs’ harm.
The Stanley Mosk Branch of the Los Angeles Superior Court has proper jurisdiction to hear this complaint because:
- Plaintiffs reside in Los Angeles County
- Defendants advertise and sell goods in Los Angeles County
- this is a class action complaint.
CLASS ACTION ALLEGATIONS
Defendant makes the claim that Roundup, the world’s most popular weedkiller, works by targeting an enzyme supposedly found only in plants, but not in people. And this is blatantly false. Contrary to Defendant’s claim, Roundup targets an enzyme found in both plants and people. Therefore, where Defendant advertises that Roundup targets an enzyme “not found in people,” such claim is objectively false and inherently misleading. Plaintiffs seek a court order that strikes the offending slogan from all Roundup labels.
Plaintiffs bring this class action lawsuit, under CCP §382, on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated persons who purchased Roundup, in California, during the last four years.
Plaintiff Class Defined
Plaintiffs propose this straightforward definition for class certification: “All persons who purchased Roundup, or Roundup-related products, in California, at any time during the last four years.”
Common Questions of Law & Fact
Common questions of law and fact affect all class members and predominate over questions involving individuals. Plaintiffs present the following questions, which resolve all material issues in this lawsuit:
- Which enzyme does Roundup target? Roundup targets the enzyme, EPSP synthase.
- Which organisms produce the enzyme that Roundup targets? The targeted enzyme, EPSP synthase, is produced by weeds, plants, bacteria, fungi, algae, and other microbes.
- Are these organisms—which produce the enzyme that Roundup targets—found in people? Yes, over one hundred trillion bacteria that produce the targeted enzyme, EPSP synthase, can be found in people— and this is indisputable. Class Action Complaint for Damages & Injunction,
The number of prospective Plaintiff Class members is so large that it is impractical to bring them all before the Court. Plaintiffs anticipate thousands and thousands of class members.
Community of Interest
There are no affirmative defenses that Defendants may assert against some, but not all members. Class action treatment in no way impairs Defendant’s ability to defend any given class member claim.
Class action treatment is the superior method for adjudicating this controversy. In order to benefit, protect, and advance consumer rights, Plaintiffs urge the Court to certify this lawsuit as a class action.
Plaintiffs’ claims include all claims that any given consumer might reasonably assert under like circumstances.
Finite and Ascertainable Class
Plaintiff Class consists of a finite and ascertainable group of consumers whom the Court can easily contact for purposes of class certification.
Fair & Adequate Representation
As advocates for consumer rights, Plaintiffs will protect and safeguard the interests of all. Plaintiffs anticipate no difficulties in maintaining this litigation as a class action.
To certify this litigation as a class action brings “substantial benefits” to the general public and to California; Plaintiffs are thus entitled to an attorney’s fees award under CCP §1021.5.
CAUSE of ACTION No. 1
- Plaintiff brings Cause of Action No. 1, for violation of Bus.&Prof. §17500, false and misleading advertising, as against all Defendants.
- Bus.&Prof. §17500 prohibits businesses from making false or misleading claims concerning goods sold in California.
- Defendant manufactures Roundup, the world’s most popular weedkiller. Roundup’s active ingredient is a potent “biocide” called glyphosate, which inhibits weeds from producing a certain enzyme they need in order to live.
- Glyphosate inhibits production of the enzyme, EPSP synthase, which is produced by weeds, plants, bacteria, fungi, algae, and billions of various microbes. Glyphosate works by inhibiting weeds from producing EPSP synthase—and once rendered unable to produce this enzyme—weeds cannot uptake minerals, nor can they make proteins from amino acids, and weeds then starve to death.
- This lawsuit challenges a specific claim that appears on all Roundup labels, [See Exhibit No. 1], which reads… “GLYPHOSATE TARGETS AN ENZYME FOUND IN PLANTS BUT NOT IN PEOPLE OR PETS.” …and this claim is absolutely, positively false because glyphosate does indeed target an enzyme “found in people.” Produced within our bodies, the targeted enzyme is in fact “found in people”—in our gut bacteria. Defendant’s claim is plainly false because the targeted enzyme, factually speaking, is “found in people,” specifically, in our stomachs and intestines.
- Because the enzyme that glyphosate targets is indeed found in people— in our gut bacteria—it is therefore objectively false (and inherently misleading) for Defendant to claim that glyphosate targets an enzyme not found in people. The truth is, glyphosate targets an enzyme that is indisputably found in people— and based on this material fact, which Defendant cannot deny, Plaintiffs’ lawsuit here prevails at this juncture.
- Defendant cannot deny that Roundup targets an enzyme that is physically located inside of people and this fact lay beyond dispute. The precise falsehood comes with Defendant’s choice of words, “found in,” because the targeted enzyme is indeed “found in” people, specifically, in our gut bacteria, a.k.a. “microbiota.”
- Commonly called gut bacteria, or gut flora, the proper term “microbiota” refers to the innumerable microbial colonies—over one hundred trillion—that dwell inside our stomachs and intestines. The total microbiota “found in” humans can weigh up to 5 lbs.—with fully one-third of our microbiota common to all humans— and many consider it an organ (just like the heart or lungs). Our microbiota are responsible for digestion, metabolism, and healthy immune system function.
- Glyphosate is a “non-selective” weedkiller, meaning it kills indiscriminately based only on whether a given organism produces the enzyme, EPSP synthase. Most significantly, because our gut bacteria produce EPSP synthase, this means that our gut bacteria are vulnerable to being killed-off by glyphosate.
- Just like it inhibits backyard weeds from producing EPSP synthase— glyphosate also inhibits our gut bacteria from producing it, and in both cases, the end result is the same; inability to produce the enzyme spells death for both backyard weeds and gut bacteria. The same chemistry that kills backyard weeds likewise kills gut bacteria, and this bacteria kill-off compromises our digestion, metabolism, and vital immune system functions.
- Sprayed as a liquid, (not a “dust”), plants absorb glyphosate directly through their leaves, stems, and roots and detectable quantities accumulate in plant tissues. When we eat crops sprayed with glyphosate, we ingest glyphosate, and detectable quantities accumulate in our tissues. The industry pretends that only a tad of glyphosate lingers on the outside of the food, as “topical residue,” while ignoring “systemic residue” inside the food. Glyphosate “bio-accumulates”—our bodies store it up—and there is no safe threshold for its accumulation. Glyphosate has been detected in urine, blood, even breast milk—and 75% of rainwater samples.
- In addition to its use as weedkiller, glyphosate also has an “off-label” use— to prematurely “ripen” crops. Ever anxious to get crops to market, farmers now accelerate the “ripening” process by using a smidgeon of glyphosate, just before harvest time, to partially starve the crops, which mimics the “ripening” process.
- In 2013, EPA raised minimum glyphosate levels for crops and this opened the floodgates for glyphosate. Despite industry rhetoric about less pesticide use, our world today is saturated with more glyphosate than ever before.
- Today, glyphosate is ubiquitous. Each year, approx. 250 millions pounds are sprayed on crops, suburban lawns, parks, and golf courses. Driven mainly by proliferation of genetically engineered crops, glyphosate use now skyrockets. (30) Defendant genetically engineers crops to make them glyphosate tolerant, i.e., “Roundup Ready.” And while these genetically engineered crops may be glyphosate tolerant, our gut bacteria most certainly are not.
- Glyphosate is a “biocide,” essentially an “antibiotic,” which means that most Americans eat “antibiotics” at every meal. Some believe that glyphosate causes “antibiotic-resistant” bacterial infections, and many folks take dietary supplements, “probiotics,” to replenish the beneficial gut bacteria that glyphosate kills.
- As farmers spray ever more glyphosate, season after season, some weeds become resistant and fields are then overgrown with “superweeds.” This same phenomenon also occurs in our stomachs and intestines; as we ingest ever more glyphosate, meal after meal, some gut bacteria become resistant and our bodies are then overgrown with these heartier microbes—essentially “superweeds.” And when this happens, the resulting imbalance allows opportunistic pathogens to rise-up and spread disease throughout our bodies.
- Because glyphosate kills-off gut bacteria that regulate digestive functions, many believe it is responsible for America’s chronic indigestion, and because it kills-off gut bacteria that regulate immune system functions, many believe glyphosate is responsible for America’s chronic auto-immunity disorders.
- Because it kills-off our gut bacteria, glyphosate is linked to stomach and bowel problems, indigestion, ulcers, colitis, gluten intolerance, insomnia, lethargy, depression, Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease, allergies, obesity, diabetes, infertility, liver disease, renal failure, autism, Alzheimer’s, endocrine disruption, and the W.H.O. recently announced it is “probably carcinogenic.” (Many believe that the EPA has known, for at least 30 years, of glyphosate’s cancer-causing potential.) (35) Defendant also conceals the fact that EPSP synthase is “found in” our pets, e.g., dogs and cats, in their gut bacteria, which of course regulate canine and feline digestion, metabolism, and vital immune system function.
- In addition to being objectively false, Defendant’s advertising claim is also inherently misleading because it creates the misimpression that glyphosate has no affect on people or pets, when in reality, it directly affects both people and pets— by killing-off beneficial gut bacteria.
- The fact that all Roundup labels bear the same false and misleading slogan, [See Exhibit No. 1], demonstrates Defendant’s intent to misinform the public. Plaintiffs detrimentally relied on Defendant’s false claims.
- When they purchased Roundup, Plaintiffs believed that glyphosate targets and kills only the weeds in our backyards, but Plaintiffs now know the real world truth, i.e., that glyphosate also targets and kills the “weeds” in our digestive systems, which contain beneficial gut bacteria that our bodies require for proper digestion, metabolism, and healthy immune system function.
- Plaintiffs are entitled to judgment because Defendant cannot deny that our digestive systems contain bacteria that produce EPSP synthase, which glyphosate inhibits, and Plaintiffs must therefore prevail. As a direct result of Defendant’s false claims, Plaintiffs were led to believe that Roundup would not affect them, but their beliefs were based on Defendant’s falsehoods. Plaintiffs accrue harm for which they seek money damages in an amount to be determined at trial, plus costs, expenses, and attorney’s fees under Bus.&Prof. §17500 and CCP §1021.5.
- Defendant continues to sell Roundup with false and misleading labeling; therefore, Plaintiffs seek a court order to prohibit Defendant from ever again falsely claiming that glyphosate targets an enzyme, “not found in people or pets.” Unless restrained by court order, Defendant will continue to mislead others.
- Plaintiffs will now reveal the multi-layered deception that underpins the claim, “Glyphosate targets an enzyme found in plants, but not in people or pets.” [See Exhibit No. 1] Remarkably, this 13-word sentence contains a grand total of three material falsehoods– (i) “found in” – Defendant’s claim that glyphosate targets an enzyme not “found in” people is of course plainly false; as above stated, EPSP synthase is indeed “found in” people. (ii) “an enzyme” – Defendant’s claim that glyphosate targets “an” enzyme is false; the truth is, glyphosate also inhibits production of other plant and animal “enzymes”—plural, not singular. (iii) “targets” – Defendant’s claim that glyphosate “targets” is false; glyphosate is a “non-selective” weedkiller that kills indiscriminately; in other words, it “targets” nothing.
- Glyphosate is a patented “biocide”—i.e., it “kills life.” Defendant misleads the general public by concealing the truth about (a) glyphosate, and (b) the enzyme, EPSP synthase, namely, (i) that EPSP synthase is “found in” people and pets; (ii) that glyphosate inhibits production of many other plant and animal enzymes; and (iii) that glyphosate lacks the ability to target with specificity. Glyphosate is an indiscriminate killer that broadly kills—and the individual glyphosate molecules have no way of knowing whether they’re killing weeds in our backyards or weeds in our digestive systems. Defendant conceals these important facts, and therefore, C.C. §3294 requires “punitive damages” to encourage honest labeling.
PRAYER for RELIEF WHEREFORE
Plaintiffs prays for judgment against Defendant, and each of them, in the following manner:
- (i) for certification of this lawsuit as a class action;
- (ii) for an award of judgment on all causes of action;
- (iii) for a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting Defendant, MONSANTO, from advertising that Roundup, and/or glyphosate, targets and/or inhibits enzymes “not found in people or pets.”
- (iv) for an award of money damages as compensation to Plaintiffs;
- (v) for costs and expenses of this lawsuit, and for reasonable attorney’s fees as per Bus.&Prof. §17500 and CCP §1021.5;
- (vi) for punitive and exemplary damages, as per C.C. §3294;
- (vii) for such other and further relief as the Court, in its discretion, may deem just and proper.