NZ urged to drop Roundup before it's too late

A landmark court case is being applauded for finding a chemical company liable for a terminally ill man's cancer.

Monsanto, makers of popular weedkiller Roundup, have been ordered to pay US$289 million dollars to former groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, who developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system. Mr Johnson's doctors said he is unlikely to live past 2020.

The jury awarded him US$39 million in compensatory and US$250 million in punitive damages.

Organic farming expert Graham Clarke says it's a fantastic result.

"It'll bring thousands out of the woodwork, and after that it'll bring hundreds of thousands and then it'll bring millions because the damage this stuff's doing is real."

Mr Clarke says farmers should be finding better solutions.

"We just have to get on as a country and find some other ways to do things that don't require Roundup."

Roundup maker Monsanto is planning to appeal the decision.

"Today's decision does not change the fact that more than 800 scientific studies and reviews... support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer, and did not cause Mr Johnson's cancer," the company said.

More than 5000 similar lawsuits have been filed across the US against the German conglomerate, Reuters reports.

The US Environmental Protection Agency in 2017 said it was not likely glyphosate causes cancer, but the World Health Organization in 2015 came to the opposite conclusion.