BERKELEY (KPIX) — A Bay Area man who won a groundbreaking lawsuit against Monsanto spoke out in Berkeley Wednesday night after accepting a reduced award in court.
Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, the Bay Area man who took on Monsanto and won, spoke publicly in the U.S. for the first time since his trial ended and said the fight isn’t over yet.
Johnson walked into a Cal conference room Wednesday fittingly dressed in an Army fatigue jacket.
“This is way bigger than I am. I’m just happy to be a part of it,” said Johnson. “Like I said, I’m the leaf that didn’t die.”
Johnson is the Benicia school groundskeeper who won a $39 million dollar settlement after claiming that Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup gave him cancer.
On Wednesday in front of a standing room only crowd, Johnson talked about how he was exposed and what led to the lawsuit.
“When I brought it up to my supervisor, he told me, ‘I think it takes years for you guys to get cancer from that stuff,'” said Johnson, getting laughs from the crowd.
Johnson is considered a rock star in environmental circles. He is the first person to beat Monsanto in a legal battle.
“Mr. Johnson is courageous. He is kind,” said Mackenzie Feldman, the co-founder of the activist group Herbicide-Free Cal. “I feel very grateful to call him an adviser to this campaign.”
Still in litigation, Johnson is now working with Herbicide-Free Cal, the group that brought him to speak on the UC Berkeley campus. Feldman slipped him a note at trial, telling him about her group’s goal of reducing the use of herbicides on campus with his help.
“We banned it from three of the biggest green spaces on campus,” said Bridget Gustafson, who co-founded the group with Feldman.
They say they’re not finished yet.
“I just launched a campaign to ban herbicides on all the UC campuses,” said Feldman.
The organizations ultimate goal is to eliminate pesticides from every campus in the country.