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Into the Weeds: Dewayne “Lee” Johnson vs. Monsanto Company – Hot Docs 2022

Into the Weeds: Dewayne "Lee" Johnson vs. Monsanto Company

Into the Weeds: Dewayne “Lee” Johnson vs. Monsanto Company – Hot Docs 2022

Synopsis:
Dewayne Johnson, suffered from rashes and wondered if they were caused by the herbicide he’d been using for the past couple years. Johnson became the face of a legal battle to hold a corporation accountable for a product.

A former groundskeeper suffering from non-Hodgkins lymphoma sues the producer of the world’s most popular brand of weedkiller in Into the Weeds: Dewayne “Lee” Johnson vs. Monsanto Company. As a groundskeeper, Dewayne “Lee” Johnson routinely used Ranger Pro, the commercial-grade variant of Roundup, the world’s most popular brand of weed-killer developed by the Monsanto company. Despite wearing protective gear, Lee would start developing cancerous growths all over his body. This results in Lee becoming the main plaintiff in a mass torts lawsuit against Monsanto, alleging that the company was covering knowledge that glyphosate, the active ingredient in round-up, was probably carcinogenic to humans.

Into the Weeds: Dewayne “Lee” Johnson vs. Monsanto Company is the latest film from acclaimed Canadian documentarian Jennifer Baichwal (Anthropocene: The Human Epoch). The film uses the titular lawsuit by Dewayne “Lee” Johnson as a jumping-off point for an expose into Monsanto and their decade-long cover-up of studies linking glyphosate to malignant non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a condition that routinely affects farmers who use round-up in their fields. This includes the events that led to the release of the “Monsanto Papers,” which contained multiple inter-company communications about the cover-up.

It seems like every few years there’s a documentary about how corporations withhold information about how the chemicals used in household products are probably carcinogenic, such as 2018’s The Devil We Know and 2019’s Toxic Beauty. Into the Weeds follows a true David vs Goliath story, as Dewayne “Lee” Johnson is made the face of the growing backlash against Monsanto, including a protest song by Neil Young. While the end result is bittersweet, Into the Weeds still gives you hope for the little guy.

Trailer for Into the Weeds: Dewayne “Lee” Johnson vs. Monsanto Company – Hot Docs 2022

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.