In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), determined glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, to be a “probable carcinogen” (Class 2A).
This determination was based on evidence showing the popular weed killer can cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma and lung cancer in humans, along with “convincing evidence” it can also cause cancer in animals.
Monsanto has maintained that the classification as a carcinogen is wrong and continues to tout glyphosate (and Roundup) as one of the safest pesticides on the planet.
However, they’ve now been slapped with a growing number of lawsuits alleging they long knew that Roundup’s glyphosate could harm human health. Reuters reported:
“Monsanto ‘led a prolonged campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers, and the general population that Roundup was safe,’ the lawsuit states.
… ‘We can prove that Monsanto knew about the dangers of glyphosate,’ said Michael McDivitt, whose Colorado-based law firm is putting together cases for 50 individuals. ‘There are a lot of studies showing glyphosate causes these cancers.'”
In fact, internal Monsanto documents reveal they knew over 30 years ago that glyphosate caused adenomas and carcinomas in the rats they studied – and that’s only the beginning of Monsanto’s trouble. As each day goes by, the GMO (genetically modified organism) cookie continues to crumble…
Monsanto Asks California to Withdraw Glyphosate on Its Carcinogen List
California environmental officials intend to add glyphosate to their Proposition 65 list of cancer-causing chemicals. Established in California in 1986, Proposition 65 requires consumer products with potential cancer-causing ingredients to bear warning labels.
Rather than label their products sold in California as likely carcinogenic, most companies reformulated their product ingredients so as to avoid warning labels altogether, and they did this on a national scale, not just in California.
Monsanto, however, is trying a different strategy. They filed formal comments with the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment saying the plan to list glyphosate as a carcinogen should be withdrawn.
Their reasoning was that California’s actions could be considered illegal because, Monsanto claimed, they were no considering valid scientific evidence.
The comment was slipped in on the final day the state accepted public comments, perhaps because Monsanto was trying not to attract too much fanfare to their attempts to keep people in the dark about their carcinogenic product.
It wouldn’t be the first time, either. Not only has the company been steadfastly fighting against GMO labeling, but they also feigned ignorance on the dangers of PCBs for several decades, which turned out to be a bold-faced lie.
Monsanto (and Monsanto-related entities) is now facing at least 700 lawsuits on behalf of people who claim their exposure to PCBs, which Monsanto manufactured until the 1970s, caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Monsanto Employees Urged to Seek Legal Counsel Regarding Their Financial Rights…
Among the lawsuits filed against Monsanto are those from former farm workers who maintain their cancers (non-Hodgkin lymphoma, bone cancer, and others) were caused by glyphosate exposure. It’s also alleged that Monsanto engaged in false advertising that Roundup affects enzymes in plants but not in people.
Aside from farm workers who may have suffered from years of glyphosate usage, another group of Monsanto’s victims may be their own employees.
Monsanto is being investigated for possible violations of the federal Employee Retirement Income Securities Act of 1974 (ERISA) regarding their Monsanto Savings and Investment Plan. As reported by Business Wire:
“ERISA imposes fiduciary duties to prudently manage and invest the assets of the Plan. These duties were potentially violated by Monsanto’s continued offering of its company stock while it allegedly knew that the stock price was artificially inflated.
… According to employee stock fraud attorney, Jake Zamansky, Monsanto’s existing and former employees who purchased company stock through the Savings and Investment Plan may have suffered damage to their retirement savings.
If the lawsuit allegations that Monsanto knew the risks of Roundup pesticides prove true, Zamansky states, then the Company knew that its stock price was artificially inflated and that it would correct when the truth came out.
Monsanto’s existing and former employees who bought or held company stock that was artificially inflated were likely damaged, he states.”
Senate Hearing on GMO Labeling Deemed a ‘Travesty’
HR 1599, incorrectly named “The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” introduced by Rep. Pompeo with guidance from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), was passed by the US House of Representatives in July 2015.
The bill is commonly referred to as the “Deny Americans the Right to Know,” or DARK, Act, as it extends unprecedented protection to Monsanto and other biotechnology companies while decimating state and consumer rights.
In addition to barring states from creating their own food labeling requirements for GMOs, HR 1599 preempts any and all state and local regulation of genetically modified (GM) crops – increasing corporate control of our food systems.
Adding insult to injury, HR 1599 will allow GMOs to be labeled as “natural” while forcing the burden of cost to conventional food providers, requiring a federal certification to be labeled as non-GMO.
HR 1599 slipped through the House greased with lots of GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association, aka Junk Food Industry) and biotech money and then headed into the Senate in October 2015.
Unfortunately, instead of hearing testimonies from parties on both sides of the issue, the hearing was reportedly stacked with pro-GMO witnesses from the biotech and food industries.
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), which was not invited to testify, called the Senate hearing a “travesty” and noted that of the eight witnesses allowed to testify, only one could be remotely considered as someone who represented the interests of consumers and public health.
The other seven had ties to biotech and corporate food industries and were there to represent the interests of the corporations, not people. According to OCA, this included:
- Michael Gregoire, associate administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): Gregoire helped Monsanto by cutting in half the time it takes for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to rubber-stamp a new GMO crop.
- William Jordan, deputy director, Office of Pesticide Programs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Jordan oversaw the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) reaction to the infamous StarLink GMO contamination scandal in 2000.
The StarLink corn variety, engineered to produce a Bt toxin, was supposed to be limited to animal feed and industrial use, out of fear it might cause severe allergic reactions. But it turned up in taco shells, and people started getting sick. Jordan refused to punish StarLink producer Aventis with even so much as a fine.
- Joanna Lidback, producer, The Farm at Wheeler Mountain, Barton, Vt.: Lidback is a graduate of the American Farm Bureau’s Monsanto-funded Partners in Agricultural Leadership program. Lidback has an MBA and works full-time as a business consultant to Yankee Farm Credit. She is the first vice president of the Orleans County Farm Bureau.
She’s on the board of directors of the Truth About Trade & Technology. Lidback also represents Agri-Mark, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and the National Milk Producers Federation, as a dairy farmer producing milk for Cabot Cheese.
Vermont’s GMO labeling law won’t impact Lidback’s farm because it doesn’t cover the products of animals fed genetically engineered feed, but Lidback falsely claimed that the law could put her farm out of business.
- Daryl E. Thomas, senior vice president, Herr Foods, Inc., Nottingham, Pa.: Herr Foods represents the typical food company that wants to make money from the market for non-GMO foods, while keeping consumers in the dark about which foods contain GMO ingredients.
On Herr’s website, the company explains its twisted position this way: “We know that food safety is paramount to everyone. So while we continue to explore opportunities to offer the latest developments in non-GMO ingredients, we remain committed to delivering to you the safest and best tasting snacks possible.”
Herr’s recently began marketing a non-GMO popcorn called Go-Lite! Herr’s has been lobbying against mandatory GMO labels with the Snack Food Association.
- Ronald E. Kleinman, physician in chief, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Boston, Mass.: Kleinman… worked for the GMO junk food industry during the Prop 37 campaign to label GMOs in California. Kleinman presents webinars on children’s health, for Coca-Cola, among the “most common misperceptions among parents”
Dr. Kleinman promises to clear up on behalf of the soda giant are “the safety… of sugar, artificial colors, and non-nutritive sweeteners in children’s diets.”
His bio on the Massachusetts General Hospital webpage says he consults for the Grain Food Foundation, Beech Nut, Burger King, and General Mills… and he contributed to a children’s brochure entitled “Variety’s Mountain” produced by the Sugar Association.
Kevin Folta: Bizarre Conflict of Interest Scandal Revealed
University of Florida professor Kevin Folta, a vocal advocate against GMOs, has vehemently denied ever receiving any money from Monsanto, but was caught having been less than forthright about his connections to the company when his email correspondence was released in response to a freedom of information (FOIA) request by US Right to Know. In August of last year, Folta did in fact receive a $25,000 unrestricted grant from Monsanto, and Folta wrote back to a Monsanto executive saying: “I am grateful for this opportunity and promise a solid return on the investment.”
However, despite a rare flurry of media attention, none of the mainstream media outlets have addressed the most flagrant piece of evidence against Folta, showing that not only did he solicit these funds from Monsanto, he appeared to do so with intent to hide the financial connection between them. Folta even went so far as to create a bizarre alter ego, Vern Blazek, a supposed radio personality in Tillamook, Oregon, who held podcasts to sort through “the shills and charlatans to distill the scientific truth.”
Blazek hosted an interview with none other than Kevin Folta in June 2015, in which they discussed GMOs. As reported by BuzzFeed’s Brooke Borel:
“Anti-GMO activists, Folta lamented to Blazek, were making misguided attempts to tie independent scientists to the agricultural giant Monsanto, one of the most polarizing companies in America. In July, through a bizarre email exchange, I discovered that Blazek is Folta’s alter ego. It was Folta who put on that disguised voice and interviewed his colleagues. It was Folta who had interviewed himself, without ever telling his audience. Because of our correspondence, Folta shut down the show and killed off Vern. Two weeks after that, a scandal broke that uprooted his life.
That’s when a group called U.S. Right to Know revealed the results of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the emails of Folta and 42 other public university employees whose work in some way relates to food. The group hoped to reveal unsavory ties between scientists and the biotech industry — and particularly to Monsanto. As activists and journalists mined some 4,600 pages of Folta’s emails and other records, they uncovered a nuanced intellectual and financial relationship to the company.
Folta had exchanged friendly emails with Ketchum — a firm that handles public relations for the Council for Biotechnology Information, an industry group of which Monsanto is a member — and collaborated with them on language about GMOs that he posted to an industry-funded website. He had worked with Ketchum on an op-ed for the Orlando Sentinel. And Monsanto had enlisted him to speak to skeptical farmers in Colorado who didn’t want to hear about GMOs directly from the company.”
The New York Times posted a long list of emails between Folta and Monsanto, obtained through the FOIA request. I encourage you to read these emails to see for yourself how Monsanto’s PR firms use “independent” scientists to further the industry’s version of science.
Donald Trump Retweets, Then Deletes, Monsanto Slam – Why?
In October 2015, polls revealed that 2016 presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson was leading in Iowa. Shortly after, Donald Trump retweeted this message: “‘@mygreenhippo #BenCarson is now leading in the #polls in #Iowa. Too much #Monsanto in the #corn creates issues in the brain? #Trump #GOP.'”
The retweet was deleted after a few hours and Trump blamed it on a “young intern,” but there was likely a very good reason why the retweet was quickly removed. Trump was trailing in Iowa, which is one of the leading producers of Monsanto’s taxpayer-subsidized corn, which in turn is used to produce ethanol.
According to the Iowa Corn Growers Association, ethanol is a major market for Iowa corn, and 47 percent of Iowa corn goes into ethanol production. There are 42 corn ethanol plants in the state, which produce close to 25 percent of all ethanol production in the US. Ethanol is poised to become a central issue in the upcoming election. As reported by Bloomberg earlier this year:
“… [E]fforts [were made] by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad… to start a grass-roots effort to make ethanol a central issue in the Iowa caucuses next January, traditionally the first vote of the presidential primary season. Earlier this year, Branstad announced the formation of a new group, America’s Renewable Future, which intends to mobilize a pro-ethanol army of 25,000 people from each party to participate in the caucuses.
The group is backed by Growth Energy, the most active ethanol lobby, and headed by Branstad’s son Eric, who was Iowa field director for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign. He says he plans to open an office in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. ‘We can get our message into the coffee shops where the candidates are,’ Eric says. ‘Then we can use Iowa’s unique status to teach the rest of the country how important ethanol is.'”
The US green energy policy requires oil companies to blend corn ethanol into their gasoline, which has driven up corn prices (until last year) and created an absolutely tragic environmental blunder. The federal government has moved to lower ethanol quotas for oil refiners, but the US EPA increased them anyway earlier this year. But the real issue is that plowing up native grasslands to plant vast expanses of corn and soy – the epitome of monoculture – needs to be stopped – not further subsidized by the government.
Such practice releases carbon dioxide into the environment while increasing erosion and the use of toxic fertilizers and other chemicals; it also destroys habitat for native plants and wildlife. Corn crops are already subsidized by the US government, so between subsidies and rising ethanol-driven prices, corn has become quite a cash crop for farmers.
But this “green energy” program is backfiring, because there’s nothing “green” about planting an absolutely unnecessary surplus of corn, especially when natural prairies are being sacrificed. Not to mention, ethanol has been found to be worse for engines, worse for mileage, and more about political agendas than economic or environmental ones.
As Ron Paul said:
“Today, the government decides and they misdirect the investment to their friends in the corn industry or the food industry. Think how many taxpayer dollars have been spent on corn [for ethanol], and there’s nobody now really defending that as an efficient way to create diesel fuel or ethanol. The money is spent for political reasons and not for economic reasons. It’s the worst way in the world to try to develop an alternative fuel.”
As further reported by Clean Technica, corn ethanol fuel standards have created more problems than solutions:
“A ten-year review of the US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by researchers at the University of Tennessee (UT) found that the RFS is ‘too reliant’ on corn ethanol, and the production of this biofuel is resulting in additional water and soil problems, as well as ‘hampering advancements’ in other biofuels.”
Meanwhile, how can there be talks of a food shortage when the US is using up some of its best soil to grow corn for fuel? Not to mention that, by driving up prices, it may actually contribute to hunger. More than 800 million people around the world don’t have access to enough to eat, and when corn prices rise, it makes it difficult for even more people to feed their families. Nearly half of the corn grown in the US goes toward fuel, while people are starving around the world…
Monsanto’s GM crops are often touted as necessary to ensure global food security, even though studies show reduced crop yields with their use. Feed the world? More like starve the world to protect Monsanto’s fuel subsidy…
We Only Have a Limited Time to Set Our Senators Straight
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan) introduced a bill that would preempt states’ rights to enact GMO labeling laws. It would specifically prohibit Congress or individual states from requiring mandatory labeling of GMO foods or ingredients. It would also allow food manufacturers to use the word “natural” on products that contain GMOs.
Unfortunately, the bill has been passed in the House and now heads to the Senate. There needs to be an extra push to put an end to the absurdity. It’s imperative you contact your senators today urging them to not support HR 1599. Tell them this bill is an attack on consumer rights and states’ rights, and you expect your elected officials to protect you.
You can find your senators’ contact information by clicking the button below, or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. To set up an in-person meeting with your senators, contact their district office.
It’s really imperative to concentrate our efforts on our senators right now, and to inform them accurately. They’re being deceived by industry lobbyists, and this is our last chance to preserve our right to know what is in our food.