Merril Hoge Pittsburgh Steelers
Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Merril Hoge is among the thousands of plaintiffs suing Roundup maker Monsanto alleging his exposure to its weed killer caused him to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

The former football star, 54, alleges in a lawsuit filed this month that he was first exposed to Roundup in 1977, while working on a potato farm in Idaho. He developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2003.

More than 11,200 plaintiffs allege in pending lawsuits that exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, caused them cancer or other injuries.

Bayer — which bought Roundup maker Monsanto last year — has already lost three court cases in which plaintiffs claimed the chemical caused cancer. A California jury in May awarded a couple $2 billion in punitive damages after finding that exposure to Roundup led to their cancer diagnoses. A judge recently lowered their punitive damage award to $87 million.

Bayer on Wednesday responded to to Hoge's lawsuit, stating that "the extensive body of science on glyphosate-based herbicides over four decades supports the conclusion that Roundup does not cause NHL."


The company claims that its products are safe as long as they are used as directed.

"At the end of the day, whether you're in the court of law, regulatory agencies or court of public opinion, it's the science that should matter here. And the extensive body of science over 40 years, including the most recent human epidemiology studies, shows that glyphosate-based herbicides are not associated with NHL. Customers who know these products best continue to rely on them. Bayer stands behind these products and will vigorously defend them," Bayer said in a statement to CBS News.

The environmental group Center for Environmental Health released a study this month that found that 11 of 12 families tested positive for glyphosate.

Bayer criticized the size of the study, noting it "provides results from a small group of volunteers with no information to determine whether the results are reliable." It added, "Assuming that these results are accurate, the reported values do not raise any human health concerns and are thousands of times below strict exposure limits set by safety authorities."