DDT and Agent Orange
Monsanto created the monsters, DDT and Agent Orange during the 1940s. DDT was a highly, toxic herbicide that was banned by Congress in 1972, due mostly to environmentalists like Rachael Carson, who wrote the DDT exposing book, “Silent Spring.”
Agent Orange was a highly carcinogenic toxin to anyone who came in contact with it. It was used during the Vietnam War as a defoliant agent and caused multiple thousands of hideously deformed people as well as stillborn babies. Agent Orange also caused tons of horrendous health issues to soldiers exposed to it, as well as up to 400,000 people’s deaths.
Since 1978, several lawsuits have been filed against the producers of Agent Orange, including a class action suit by U.S. Veterans.
Artificial Sweeter Asparatame, Nutra Sweet, Equal and Amino Sweet
Another sweet, poison monster created by Monsanto was aspartame, better known as “Nutra-Sweet.” After the carcinogenic saccharin debate went on for years, Monsanto produced a new toxic sweetener. There are now over 5,000 products with aspartame in them; diet sodas being one of the main ones. In fact a new name has been given to this old poison and it’s called “AminoSweet.” Unfortunately, the health of the consumer is of little regard when it comes to the big money that can be made off these dangerous chemicals.
Bovine Growth Hormone
This Monsanto monster called bovine growth hormone, has affected a huge portion of our meat and dairy supply. The synthetic hormone, rBGH or rBST, is injected into the cows to increase milk production. It also has been proven to cause rapid infant growth and early development in girls. This hormone monster is also associated with and known to accelerate breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer. Do look for labels on your milk and meat that state it is hormone-free. That in itself, is a war being waged by big conglomerate farms that are losing money over these labels.
Pcbs and Roundup
PCB stands for Polychlorinated Biphenyls, which were commonly used in the making of PVC coatings for electrical wiring and components.
The Washington Post carried a front page report on the lawsuit against Monsanto because of their dumping of mercury and PCB-laden waste into Anniston, Alabama creeks for over 40 years. They ended up paying $700 million to settle claims with over 20,000 Anniston residents. The EPA identified Monsanto as being “potentially responsible” for contaminating 56 sites in the United States.
Roundup is a highly toxic herbicide produced by Monsanto which brings in about 10 per cent of their revenue. Roundup has been banned in several countries due to the toxic effects and damage it causes to humans and wildlife. Several “superweeds” species have developed because of repeated exposure to this monster called Roundup.
Genetically Modified Organisms
GMOs are the biggest monsters created by Monsanto, and threatening to forever alter our food supply chain. Not only foods but flowers, plants and life on this planet as we have known it. Monsanto is buying seed companies all over the world and altering the seeds with toxins such as Roundup, threatening the heirloom seeds that have existed from the beginning of time. Monsanto is a monster that is supported by many political figures. Do your homework and you might find your own favorites in this monster club.
Aspartame (NutraSweet) Formaldehyde Poisoning
Health Destruction, and Lawsuits
Aspartame (NutraSweet) Neotame: a poison with a very sweet taste, but still a poison none the less should read the label
The artificial sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal, NatraTaste, Canderel) is without question the most toxic and health-destroying “food” sold to consumers. The number of people who have recognized toxicity reactions or damage from chronic aspartame ingestion is well over one million people in the U.S. (based on the reported toxicity reactions divided by the estimated reporting rate). While many people’s health has already been destroyed by this product, the more serious concern is the long-term nervous system damage, immune system damage, and irreversible genetic damage known to be caused by aspartame’s metabolite, formaldehyde. Formaldehyde can cause severe health problems at exceptionally low levels of exposure.
“These are indeed extremely high levels for adducts of formaldehyde, a substance responsible for chronic deleterious effects that has also been considered carcinogenic.
“It is concluded that aspartame consumption may constitute a hazard because of its contribution to the formation of formaldehyde adducts.”
[Life Sci. (scientific journal), Vol. 63, No. 5, pp. 337+, 1998]
It can be difficult to get a sense of the widespread harm that this toxic product has caused without printing out and reading completely through the Aspartame Toxicity Reaction Samples that are available on the Aspartame (NutraSweet) Toxicity Information Center web page. This document will take a minute or two to load in web browser so please be patient.
“I know from my own experience, the levels of devastation this product are real. I have lesions on the left temporal lobe of my brain and a series of seizures to prove it. …. “I drank diet coke for YEARS…. loved the stuff.. and ‘tho everyone told me (vaguely) that Aspartame was bad for me.. did I listen?? Noooooo. Annnnd I paid the price.”
Some people may ask, “Well, didn’t the research prove that it is safe?” The answer is “No!”. Nearly 100% of the independent scientific research has found problems with aspartame. Those independent research studies are cited and discussed in detail on the Aspartame Frequently Asked Questions web page and on several other web pages on the Internet. Researchers and physicians are encouraged to followup on these studies.
Primarily, the only research that claims aspartame is safe is that which has been funded and/or controlled by the manufacturer (e.g., Monsanto). They put together convincing-sounding summaries of poorly-designed research in order to present to the public. When the research is examined closely it is found that the testing was often done improperly, the results were often reported inaccurately or in a biased way, and the equivalent of extremely low doses of aspartame was often used even though the summaries reported the use of high doses.
“Corporate control of NutraSweet testing continues at Monsanto, torturing the ethics of academic medicine.”
[Prevailing Winds, Issue 1, 1995]
Sometimes, the manufacturer points to the fact that aspartame has been approved in many countries. But none of these countries even tested aspartame. They relied on the manufacturer’s pre-approved “research” which was aptly described by an FDA Investigator:
“They [manufacturer] lied and they didn’t submit the real nature of their observations because had they done that it is more than likely that a great number of these studies would have been rejected simply for adequacy. What [the manufacturer] did, they took great pains to camouflage these shortcomings of the study. As I say filter and just present to the FDA what they wished the FDA to know and they did other terrible things for instance animals would develop tumors while they were under study. Well they would remove these tumors from the animals.”
[US Congressional Record, Volume 131, No. 106, August 1, 1985, pages S10826-S10827]
Some of the symptoms of aspartame poisong include:
Headaches/Migraines, Dizziness, Seizures, Nausea, Numbness, Muscle spasms, Weight gain, Rashes, Depression, Fatigue, Irritability, Tachycardia, Insomnia, Vision Problems, Hearing Loss, Heart palpitations, Breathing difficulties, Anxiety attacks, Slurred Speech, Loss of taste, Tinnitus, Vertigo, Memory loss, Joint Pain
Because aspartame metabolizes into a poison and other dangerous chemicals (despite the claims of the manufacturer to the contrary), it is believed that it can trigger or worsen the following conditions:
Brain tumors, Arthritis, Multiple sclerosis, Epilepsy, Chronic faigue syndrome, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Mental retardation, Lymphoma, Birth defects, Fibromyalgia, Diabetes, Thyroid Disorders
Monsanto is now preparing to release another poorly-tested, dangerous sweetener, neotame. However, a large number of people are not waiting to be poisoned again and are using the Healthier Sweetener Resource List to switch to stevia and other healthier, time-tested sweeteners.
Monsanto sold its aspartame business recently to Ajinomoto of Japan and a group made up of former Monsanto executives and Michael Dell’s (of Dell Computer) consulting / investment firm. A class action lawsuit is being prepared and should be filed against the current and previous manufacturers in late 2002. The lawsuits against Monsanto for aspartame poisoning and their other toxic products will likely force a reorganization or put it out of business within a few years.
Other resources for aspartame/neotame information on the Internet:
Monsanto, Dow and Agent Orange
an original article by John Pilger
Agent Orange Action Group is pleased to welcome this original article by John Pilger a renowned writer, broadcaster and film-maker whose documentaries have won prestigious awards from many countries; his contribution to our pages is appreciated.
February 24, 2012
On 13 February, a French court found the Monsanto company guilty of poisoning a farmer, Paul Francois, who developed neurological problems after working with one of Monsanto’s weedkiller. The court found that Monsanto had failed to provide proper warning on the product label. When I read that news item, some 40 years vanished. I was back in Vietnam in a fishing village called Son Tra. The American military ‘strategy’ was that the people of Son Tra would be more ‘secure’ if all their basic vegetation was stripped away. This would ‘deny cover to any infiltrating enemy elements’.
Son Tra was sprayed with defoliant herbicides, manufactured by Monsanto and the Dow Chemical Company. The herbicide, 2,4,5-T, was called Agent Orange and contained an impurity, dioxin, one of the most devastating poisons. The previous year, 1970, the US government had banned the marketing of 2,4,5-T following a campaign by small farmers – people like Paul Francois – who gave evidence that the herbicide turned young trees to powder and causes paralysis and blindness among their livestock and impotence in themselves.
Banned at home, the spray could still be used overseas, especially in the American war in Vietnam. It was not long before a pattern of deformities began to emerge in the Vietnamese people: babies were born without eyes, with deformed hearts and small brains and with stumps instead of legs. In August 1970, in a report to the US Senate, Senator Gaylord Nelson wrote that ‘the US had dumped [on south Vietnam] a quantity of toxic chemical amounting to six pounds per head of population including women and children’.
The impact on the environment was apocalyptic. Mangroves in villages like Son Tra were destroyed perhaps forever. Decaying plant matter robbed the water of oxygen and reduced the catches of fish and crabs by as much as 80 per cent. The land around was stricken with saline and became rock hard and good for nothing.
But the spraying continued. Following the report to the Senate, the US military changed the codename of the Agent Orange operation from ‘Operation Hades’ to the friendlier ‘Operation Ranch Hand’.
Whenever I have returned to Vietnam, and traveled in the Mekong Delta, I see adults and children who bear the deformities of Agent Orange. Because the poison remains in the soil and water, babies are still born deformed, if they are born at all; miscarriages and stillbirths are a mark of the poisoning. One of the two companies that caused this horrific state of affairs, Dow Chemical, was given the contract to provide the ‘decorative wrapping’ to the main stadium for the London Olympic Games, an event that is said to celebrate life and human prowess.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Vietnam here we come! At least that is what biotech giant Monsanto is saying. The multinational agricultural corporation most known for creating the hazardous chemical Agent Orange, which led to thousands of deaths and birth defects due to its widespread use within the country, is now attempting to begin providing Vietnam with their genetically modified foods.
During the Vietnam War, Monsanto’s Agent Orange was used as a part of the United States’ ‘herbicidal warfare program’. Having killed an estimated 400,000, deforming 500,00, and sickening 2 million, even 30 years after the war people are still suffering from the health effects induced by the chemical. Agent Orange has been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, live damage, and other major health problems. Although the damage is great, US courts have protected both Monsanto and Dow Chemical from liability and criminal prosecution. The US government has shielded Monsanto and Dow from the massive cost of medical treatment for victims and environmental remediation cleanup costs that would spell out bankruptcy for the corporations.
Despite enormous opposition, now Monsanto is making further attempts to profit from Vietnam by selling their genetically modified creations. It would be completely outrageous to see Vietnam accept Monsanto’s GMO’s, as they have already ruined hundreds of thousands of lives with their toxic Agent Orange. Given the well-known human and environmental destruction behind GMOs, Vietnam would only be inviting back tragic health complications.
The Thanh Nienn News in Ho Chi Minh City reports:
No biotech company has yet got the official green light for selling genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but it does not assuage the fears that Vietnam could end up with another tragic legacy from a company that once caused many deaths in the country, environmental activists say.
The alleged purpose of using Agent Orange was to deny the enemy cover in forested areas through defoliation. However, the US Army did contract studies in 1943 of the effects of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D (the other ingredient of Agent Orange) on cereal grains, including rice, and developed the concept of using aerial herbicide spraying to destroy enemy crops to disrupt the food supply. It seems that poisoning the enemy, farmland and civilians was a chemical warfare strategy.
The Global Post reports:
Monsanto is, of course, highly aware of Agent Orange’s reputation and has fought numerous lawsuits filed by chemical’s victims both Vietnamese and American. The chemical, commissioned by the U.S. military, was dumped over jungles to kill vegetation and rout communist forces.
In Monsanto’s own primer on the Agent Orange era, it casts the chemical as patriotic — it was meant “to save the lives of U.S. and allied soldiers,” Monsanto says — and contends that the matter “should be resolved by the governments that were involved.”
We will see if Vietnam allows for Monsanto or any other biotech corporation to provide them with genetically modified foods, but the decision not to allow such measures seems clear as crystal to many.
Ontario Hydro sprayed Agent Orange to clear corridors
February 26, 2011
Ontario Hydro used Agent Orange to clear power line corridors across the province, through city backyards and thick rural brush.
Hydro’s own records, obtained by the Star, boast that in one 12-year period, the power company dropped enough chemicals in Ontario to cover a 30-metre-wide swath travelling “four-fifths the distance around the world.”
The Ontario Hydro revelation moves health concerns over the toxin closer to highly populated areas of the province, with spraying on hundreds of thousands of kilometres of hydro corridors looping through parks and farmers’ fields.
For months at a time, summer students and salaried Hydro labourers would fan out across Ontario with metal knapsacks filled with poisonous chemicals strapped to their backs. The company also loaded hundreds of gallons of herbicides onto all-terrain vehicles, helicopters, army trucks, swamp tractors and even horses to help workers access every nook and cranny, according to the Star’s ongoing investigation.
“Every power line in Ontario was sprayed,” said Sidney Rodger, a former Hydro supervisor who worked in eastern Ontario from 1958 to 1968.
“All this spraying was done in urban and rural areas with no regard for creeks and streams or residents and wildlife.”
The Toronto Star interviewed former Hydro employees, including summer students and senior managers, who were assured the chemicals were harmless. The illnesses they’ve been dealing with the past few decades tell a different story.
The men came forward after a Star investigation published last week revealed that the most widely used chemical in the Vietnam War was also employed at large by Ontario’s Department of Lands and Forests to strip massive plots of Crown land during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
A Hydro One spokeswoman confirmed the utility also used Agent Orange across Ontario from 1950 to 1979.
Daniele Gauvin said anyone with concerns can contact Hydro One, a company created in 1998 to replace Ontario Hydro. Gauvin said people are welcome to call the “corporate switchboard.”
Meanwhile, government officials are probing the effects of Agent Orange use by provincial ministries in northern Ontario and along roadsides across the province.
“Spraying can be a bitter pill to the public,” states an Ontario Hydro training document from 1962. It advised spraying supervisors “to practise courtesy, care and common sense.”
To convince farmers to allow Hydro spray crews onto their pastures, some supervisors would dip a cup into the chemical tank and take a swig.
“We were just young, single guys making big money,” said Orval Newton, 64, who earned $2.06 an hour as a labourer power-spraying trees and brush beneath high-voltage lines from Parry Sound to Toronto in 1967.
Bread cost 25 cents a loaf at the time and regular gasoline was 41.9 cents a gallon.
“We had no protection,” he said. “The drift would come back into your face. You’d finish the day with your clothes soaked.”
Four years ago, Newton was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, one of more than 50 medical conditions the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs associates with exposure to Agent Orange.
George Hambley, 62, spent three summers spraying near Kirkland Lake during the early 1970s.
A massive tractor carrying hundreds of gallons of chemicals rolled through the brush. Attached to the chemical tank were three high-pressure hoses usually carried by seasonal workers like him.
“The guy on the middle hose got it bad,” he said. “Sometimes we’d start to gag because the spray was so thick.
A few years after he finished with Hydro, still in his 20s, Hambley started to lose feeling in his toes. Year by year, the numbness spread to his legs and hands. His official diagnosis is neuropathy, a disorder the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also associates with exposure to Agent Orange.
When Hambley was in his 30s, thick, red patches of skin with flaky, silver-white scales started to appear; they now cover 75 per cent of his body.
“On hot days, and with the blessing of our foreman, we would spray each other with this ‘safe’ concoction,” recalls Bryan Ostrowski, 69, who worked with the chemicals as a teenager in northern Ontario.
“We would spray upwards beneath the trees,” he said. “We did this day in and day out.” He was 15 his first year.
Ostrowski started developing heart problems in his 20s. He had his first bypass at 41 and now has a stent. Polyps riddled his nasal cavities. The polyps were removed in his 30s.
Richard Monk, 58, recalls members of his spray gang in Parry Sound complaining about the noxious chemicals shortly after he started working for Ontario Hydro in 1975. His crew used “many, many chemicals,” including an equal-parts cocktail of the herbicides 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T mixed in diesel fuel — Agent Orange.
“There were times we couldn’t open our eyes in the morning,” he said, because the toxins seemed to glue them shut. “We had to walk down the cabin feeling the walls to find a basin to bathe them.”
The company responded to these complaints, he said, by conducting a study of workers’ urine and monitoring the air with some kind of breathing apparatus.
Monk, who retired from the company as a superintendent for northern Ontario after 34 years of service, said he supplied urine samples for two weeks.
“We never got the results.”
In 2000, at the age of 48, Monk was diagnosed with bladder cancer.
Hydro One could not provide the Star with the results of the urine study. A spokesperson said Ontario Hydro’s records are archived with Ontario Power Generation.
Hydro One pointed the Star to a different study, based on a questionnaire, that concluded forestry workers who were routinely exposed to poisonous herbicides were no more likely to die of cancer than men in the general population, though it did show a significant increase in suicide.
The study tracked 1,222 Hydro employees who worked for six months or more between 1950 and 1982 and who were routinely exposed to herbicides. The report is based on two questionnaires workers were asked to fill out.
The Star asked a leading U.S. epidemiologist who has studied the effects of Agent Orange on military veterans to review the report.
“No one should derive comfort or reassurance of safety” from the Ontario study, said Dr. Joel Michalek, the lead scientist in a prominent U.S. study that tracked the health of about 1,000 military veterans who participated in Operation Ranch Hand — a series of Air Force missions that sprayed defoliants over 1.4 million hectares of South Vietnam.
“Among epidemiology studies, this particular study offers the weakest form of evidence, with no control group and no measurement of the dioxin contaminant in people who comprised the cohort,” said Michalek from San Antonio, where he is vice-chair of the epidemiology department at the University of Texas Health Science Center.
David McCarty spent two summers in the early 1960s spraying power lines for Ontario Hydro near his hometown of New Liskeard, Ont. He was 17 years old his first year.
“I needed a goddamn job,” he said. “In those days, my dad was a guard at the jail. He made $5 an hour. I was making $11 an hour in the bush. Sometimes, I think it was shut-up money.”
He’s 64 years old. He’s had two heart attacks, the first at age 37. He’s been treated for mouth and skin cancer. Doctors twice extracted melanomas from his nose.
He was not part of the Ontario study, he said.
“I’ve been talking with a girl from the WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board). She wanted me to put in a claim,” he said. “My doctor says nobody is going to tell you this is connected.”
McCarty sprayed power lines from Abitibi Canyon to Sudbury.
“When we’d come back the next day, you could tell where we left off because the leaves would be brown and curling,” he said.
After a day spent in the thick chemical fog, the workers rarely bathed.
“If you cleaned up at night, you’d get eaten alive by blackflies,” he said. “You would wash the palm of your hands and your mouth and that’s it! We stunk like hell.”
Tom Plaunt was 19 during his first summer of spraying. For him, it was a sort of initiation into manhood.
“That’s where I learned to smoke cigarettes, drink beer and swear like a trooper,” said Plaunt, 66, a retired university music professor in Montreal.
He worked on Hydro’s spray crews west of Shining Tree, Ont., for two summers in the 1960s.
Still, he can’t help but wonder if the wart-like growths that began covering his body shortly after his work with Ontario Hydro are connected to the chemicals he sprayed.
The chemical mixture would stick to his skin “for days,” he said.
“The men working with this stuff would lose a layer of skin a week,” said Rodger, 75, who left Hydro to become a teacher.
Many of the men he worked with developed white blotches on their hands and faces. As for his own health, Rodger said he’s feeling fine. His youngest son, though, was born with an extra finger, which doctors removed at birth.
Is there a connection? Hard to say.
Rodger is certain of one thing.
“I’m not looking for remuneration,” he said. “I just want the truth to come out.”
Diana Zlomislic can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (416) 869-4472
The History of PCBs
When Were Health Problems Detected?
PCB history is not pretty. As the timeline shows, the manufacturers and major users of PCBs knew by the 1930s and 1940s that PCBs caused serious health problems in their workers, and doctors advised them that other effects could be occurring as well. But this did not stop industries from producing and using PCBs, or from releasing PCBs into our environment, contaminating our public waterways, air, croplands, and wildlife. It appears from this PCB history that several companies also deliberately misled workers, customers, regulators and the public for many decades, allowing the PCB problem to spread and become much worse.
Our local PCB history began in 1954, when Appleton Paper Company and NCR Corporation began using large quantities of PCBs, incorporating them into consumer products, and releasing them into the public waters of the Fox River and Green Bay. They should have known PCBs had serious toxic properties, because it would likely have become evident in their own workers, as it became evident to other companies. Certainly, before releasing the PCBs into the river, the company should have conducted laboratory health studies to determine whether this was safe.
1865 — First PCB-like chemical discovered; a by-product of coal tar.
1881 — First PCBs synthesized. 
1914 — Enough PCBs had already escaped into the environment to leave measurable amounts in the feathers of birds held in museums today. 
1927 — PCBs were first manufactured commercially by the Anniston Ordnance Company, in Anniston, Alabama.  The Anniston Plant’s legacy began in 1915 when Theodore Swann founded the company to manufacture six-inch explosive shell cases for the U.S. Army. To see photos and learn what the Anniston plant makes now, visit http://www.solutia.com/corporate/worldwide/anniston.html
1930 — The company’s name changed to the Swann Chemical Company. 
1933 — Problems soon arose at the manufacturing plant. 23 out of 24 workers in the plant had acne-like pustules on their faces and bodies. Some complained of loss of energy, appetite and libido as well as other skin ailments. These symptoms are now known as classic first signs of PCB exposure. 
1935 — Swann was purchased in 1935 by the Monsanto Industrial Chemical Company of St. Louis, Missouri. Monsanto produced PCBs at plants in Sauget, Illinois and Anniston, Alabama (until 1977.) Monsanto then licensed others to make PCBs and the product took off. PCB’s have been produced in other countries including Italy (Caffaro), France (Protolec), Japan (Kanegafuchi Chemical Co.), Germany (Bayer), and they may still be produced in Russia.  As electricity came into widespread use during the first half of this century, equipment suppliers like GE and Westinghouse became major users of PCBs. One Monsanto engineer allegedly called it “as perfect as any industrial chemical can be.” 
1936 — A senior official with the U.S. Public Health Service described a wife and child, both of whom had developed chloracne, a combination of blackheads and “pustules,” merely from contact with a worker’s clothes. The same official wrote, “In addition to these skin lesions, symptoms of systemic poisoning have occurred among workers inhaling these fumes.”
1936 – Scientists issued a report attributing the plant workers’ disease symptoms to poor handling techniques and the “natural laziness of the black man.” 
1937 — A study published in the Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology suggested links between PCBs and liver disease. 
1937 — The Harvard School of Public Health hosted a one-day meeting on the problem of “systemic effects” of certain chlorinated hydrocarbons including “chlorinated diphenyl” (an early name for PCBs). The meeting was attended by representatives from Halowax Corp., Monsanto, General Electric, the U.S. Public Health Service, state health officials from Massachusetts and Connecticut, and others. Before World War I, the Halowax Corporation, in New York City, began manufacturing chlorinated naphthelenes as a coating for electric wire, and companies like General Electric began using it. The president of Halowax, Sandford Brown, told the meeting that they had observed no problems in their workers until “the past 4 or 5 years… Then we come to the higher stages [greater number of chlorine atoms in the mixture], combined with chlorinated diphenyl and other products, and suddenly this problem is presented to us.” By the mid-1930s, workers at Halowax and at GE, and even some of their customers, were breaking out with chloracne—small pimples with dark pigmentation of the exposed area, followed by blackheads and pustules. In 1936 three workers at the Halowax Company died. Autopsies of two revealed severe liver damage. Halowax then hired Harvard University researcher, Cecil K. Drinker, to investigate. He exposes rats to these chlorinated compounds, to see if they could discover the underlying cause. The Harvard researchers made “a number of estimates of chlorinated hydrocarbons in the air of different factories,” then designed experiments to expose rats to similar levels. The rats also suffered from severe liver damage. Conference notes report that “the chlorinated diphenyl is certainly capable of doing harm in very low concentrations and is probably the most dangerous [of the chlorinated hydrocarbons studied].” Dr.Drinker added, “These experiments leave no doubt as to the possibility of systemic effects from the chlorinated naphthalenes and chlorinated diphenyls.” From a brief report on the one-day conference, we can gather that problems caused by PCB exposures were serious and widely known. Mr. F.R. Kaimer, assistant manager of General Electric’s Wireworks at York, Pa., said, “It is only 1 ½ years ago that we had in the neighborhood of 50 to 60 men afflicted with various degrees of this acne about which you all know. Eight or ten of them were very severely afflicted—horrible specimens as far as their skin conditions was concerned. One man died and the diagnosis may have attributed his death to halowax vapors, but we are not sure of that….” GE’s medical director, Dr. B. L. Vosburgh of Schenectady, N.Y., attended the meeting. He said, “About the time we were having so much trouble at our York factory some of our customers began complaining. We thought we were having a hysteria of halowax mania throughout the country.” Monsanto Chemical Company was represented at the meeting by R. Emmett Kelly. Mr. Kelly told the meeting, “I can’t contribute anything to the laboratory studies, but there has been quite a little human experimentation in the last several years, especially at our plants where we have been manufacturing this chlorinated diphenyl.” He went on to describe the results of Monsanto’s human experiments: “A more or less extensive series of skin eruptions which we were never able to attribute as to cause, whether it was impurity in the benzene we were using or to the chlorinated diphenyl.” GE’s F.R. Kaimer described the HUMAN reaction of GE executives to the disfigurement and pain of GE workers exposed to PCBs: “[W]e had 50 other men in very bad condition as far as the acne was concerned. The first reaction that several of our executives had was to throw it out—get it out of our plant. They didn’t want anything like that for treating wire. But that was easily said but not so easily done. We might just as well have thrown our business to the four winds and said, ‘We’ll close up,’ because there was no substitute and there is none today in spite of all the efforts we have made through our own research laboratories to find one.” And so GE executives—contrary to their personal ethics—reached a business decision to continue using PCBs. Sanford Brown, the president of Halowax, concluded the meeting by stressing the “necessity of not creating mob hysteria on the part of workmen in the plants” where chemical-safety inspections were being made. Problems with PCBs and napthalenes, he predicted, “may continue, probably will continue for years.” 
1938 — A study of PCB-oil mixtures manufactured by Westinghouse and GE demonstrated that liver damage could be caused by skin contact alone, and called for the “greatest personal hygiene” in minimizing exposure. In further research for Monsanto, Drinker warned that adequate ventilation was necessary when handling the chemicals. 
1947 — E.C. Barnes of Westinghouse’s medical department wrote, in an internal company memo, that long-term exposure to PCB fumes “may produce internal bodily injury which may be disabling or could be fatal.”
1947 — GE began using PCBs in the manufacture of electrical equipment at its Ft. Edward plant on the east shore of the Hudson River. Soon, GE began mixing PCBs with oil in their own formula they called Pyrosol. In 1952 it began using PCBs in its plant in Hudson Falls. By 1977, GE had dumped 500,000 to 1.5 million pounds of PCBs in the Hudson River.
1949 — An explosion occurred at a Monsanto chemical factory in Nitro, West Virginia; as a result, many workers in the plant were exposed to the herbicide 2,4,5-T, which was contaminated with dioxin. (This herbicide was later the principal component of Agent Orange, the chemical defoliant used by the U.S. in Vietnam.) In subsequent years, two Monsanto scientists, J.A. Zack and R. W. Gaffey, studied the exposed workers, comparing their health against the health of a similar group of workers who were not exposed to dioxin or 2,4,5-T. According to court documents “Zack and Gaffey deliberately and knowingly omitted 5 deaths from the exposed group and took four workers who had been exposed and put these workers in the unexposed group, serving, of course, to decrease the death rate in the exposed group and increase the death rate in the unexposed group.” Other studies of this same accident were also fraudulent, according to the same court documents, including a study by R.R. Suskind published in the JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: “This published study of the workers exposed in the 1949 accident reported only 14 cancers in the exposed group and 6 in the unexposed group (a smaller cohort). However, the medical records produced [by Monsanto] to the Plaintiffs conclusively prove gross miscalculations and omissions… there were 28 cancers in the group that had been exposed to dioxins in 1949 as opposed to only 2 cancers in the unexposed group.” Mr. Suskind published two other reports on the same accident, using his same data, to reach the conclusion that dioxin does not cause cancer. [13,14,15] This experience raises concerns about the honesty of any Monsanto PCB data as well. (PCBs are very similar to dioxins, and are often contaminated with dioxins.)
1950 — A GE instruction manual for PCB transformers assured utilities that “transformer Pyranol [GE’s trade name for PCBs] may be handled in the same manner as mineral oil.” 
1951 — Monsanto also had in its files a 1947 scientific finding that there was “need to give warning” about PCBs because “the toxicity of those compounds has been repeatedly demonstrated.” 
1953 — Although Monsanto was the sole domestic manufacturer of PCBs, Westinghouse prepared its own Material Safety Data Sheets and Safe Practice Data Sheets for PCB-laden fluids. In fact, Westinghouse’s in-house knowledge about PCBs was so sophisticated that the company participated in federal and industry task forces and working committees on PCBs. 
1954 — Appleton Paper Company began making PCB coated carbonless copy papers, and discharging PCB contaminated wastewater to the Fox River. 
1956 — Monsanto considered the chemicals toxic enough to give workers protective gear and clothing, and encourage them to hose off after each shift. Monsanto researchers and executives began writing confidential memos describing their fears about the chemicals’ toxic effects, but they drafted plans for continuing to sell them despite these suspicions. Along with other chemical manufacturers, the company publicly expressed skepticism about PCBs’ association with disease, but over the next decade the evidence became harder and harder to dismiss. 
1956 — Monsanto knew that PCB products could be contaminated with dioxins and dibenzofurans from the time they were shipped from the factory—a piece of information it sat on until the late 1960s, when independent researchers discovered this hazard. According to the record of one lawsuit, new PCB oil can be contaminated with dibenzofurans at concentrations of up to 10 parts per million. As the oil ages, according to documents from Monsanto’s files, the concentration becomes considerably higher.
1956 — GE’s files contained a bibliography of 43 references on the health dangers and possible lethality of PCBs and PCB component chemicals. 
1957 — From 1957 to1977, the Westinghouse Electric Corporation (now owned by CBS) manufactured electrical capacitors in Bloomington, Indiana using “Interteen” (a mixture of PCB Arochlors in mineral oil) as a dielectric (insulating material). The city now has several contamination sites, including some Superfund sites due to PCBs. 
1959 —- The assistant director of Monsanto’s Medical Department wrote to the Administrator of Industrial Hygiene at Westinghouse saying, “…sufficient exposure, whether by inhalation of vapors or skin contact, can result in chloracne which I think we must assume could be an indication of a more systemic injury if the exposure were allowed to continue.” Monsanto also sent Westinghouse animal toxicity studies on PCBs and Material Safety Data Sheets with specific warnings about the risks of overexposure.
1964 — A Swedish researcher, Dr. Soren Jensen, was trying to study DDT levels in human blood when a mysterious group of chemical compounds kept recurring in his samples, interfering with his analyses. The chemical was so pervasive that his first task was to determine whether it was natural or synthetic. Tests had to be developed to distinguish PCBs from the pesticide DDT. A two-year investigation established that the mystery compound was chlorine-based and chemically similar to DDT. Jensen knew it wasn’t a pesticide, though, because he found it in wildlife specimens collected in 1935, years before chlorine-based pesticides were in general use. All of Sweden and its adjacent seas were contaminated, even hair samples taken from his wife and three children showed traces of the compound, with the highest levels in his nursing infant daughter. The mystery pollutant was everywhere he looked. Eventually, Jensen says, “I was convinced that what I had to deal with were chlorinated biphenyls, but I didn’t have the faintest idea where such compounds were used in the society.” Searching the literature, Jensen learned of PCBs’ industrial uses. A German chemical manufacturer provided Jensen with a sample, which he analyzed and found to match the “peaks,” or chemical readings, found in a massively contaminated white-tailed eagle. 
1965 — Monsanto knew that dioxin “can be a potent carcinogen.” Dioxin is frequently a contaminant in PCB mixtures. 
1966 — The general scientific community first became aware of PCBs as an environmental problem when a Dr. Jensen published his research which found PCBs in 200 pike from all over Sweden, in other fish, and in an eagle. The report revealed the capacity of PCBs to “bioaccumulate along the food chain.” The chemicals, which take many years to biodegrade, pass easily through the lipid portions of cell membranes and are readily absorbed into mammalian fat tissue. Animals at the top of the food chain, like whales, polar bears, dolphins and humans, can store PCBs at highly concentrated levels.  For the next decade, scientists accumulated information about PCBs, finding them disrupting food webs all over the planet. “Truly the PCBs are a worldwide ecological problem,” declared a Monsanto company memo that included a list of concerns under the heading “Business Potential at Stake on a Worldwide Basis.”
1967 — According to Monsanto telephone logs, Shell Oil called to inform the company of the Swedish press reports, and to ask for PCB samples for its own analytical studies. 
1968 — After Jensen’s discovery, Monsanto executives visited him in Sweden, and company records indicate that Monsanto obtained an unpublished 1968 paper he wrote with two colleagues detailing the analytical method for detecting PCBs in the environment. Neither did Riseborough’s findings take the company by surprise: a January 18, 1968, internal memo about PCBs in shorebirds warns a Canadian colleague to “expect publication from California.” 
1968 — 1,300 residents of Kyushu, Japan, fell ill after eating rice-bran oil (yusho) contaminated with PCBs fluids. Many showed immediate symptoms including severe chloracne, respiratory ailments, and failing vision. Two out of 12 children were stillborn and nearly all of the babies showed signs of PCB diseases. Since then, more than 50 people have died; many with internal tumors and irregular lymph nodes and livers. Subsequent studies published in leading medical journals showed that PCBs cause a statistically significant increase in lung cancer , and damage to the immune system, reproductive system, nervous and endocrine system. It was from the “Yusho Incident” that scientists would soon document birth defects, low birth weights, and numerous other chronic effects from PCB exposure. Nine years after, there was a sixfold increase in liver-cancer deaths among affected men and threefold among women. Ultimately, researchers found liver cancers at 15 times the normal rate. Despite international attention to the Yusho Incident, just two months later Monsanto’s corporate-development committee set a four-year goal of increasing by 20 times its sales of Therminol heat-transfer fluid – essentially the same PCB product that poisoned the Japanese victims. In the United States, Therminol was used as a heating medium inside the coils of deep-fat fryers. [7,11]
1968 — Workers at a Westinghouse plant in Bloomington, Indiana, began to ask questions after the mass poisoning in Japan. They say, Westinghouse officials led them to believe PCBs were entirely safe. Jason Morrow, a former union local president at the plant, recalls employee meetings in which then-plant manager Donald M. Sauter “washed his hands and face in what he told workers was liquid PCBs to convince them not to worry.”
A Westinghouse spokesman, Christopher C. Newton, confirmed for BUSINESS WEEK magazine that Sauter “dipped his hands” into PCBs at a meeting. 
1969 —Widespread PCB contamination of the food chain in the United States was first demonstrated by Dr. Robert Riseborough of the University of California at Berkeley, who happened upon it in the course of his research on peregrine falcons.  San Francisco Chronicle reporter David Perlman learned about Riseborough’s findings; his story, “A Menacing New Pollutant,” ran on February 24, 1969, and was picked up by numerous other papers. Monsanto launched its public-relations defense the next day by denying that the chemicals were PCBs. “The Swedish and American scientists . . . imply that polychlorinated biphenyls are ‘highly toxic’ chemicals,” Monsanto said in a statement widely distributed to its customers and the press. “This is simply not true. The source of marine-life residue identified as PCB is not yet known. It will take extensive research, on a worldwide basis, to confirm or deny the initial scientific conclusions.” 
1969 — Between 1969 and 1971, at least 9 major food contaminations occurred with PCBs. 
1969 — Monsanto wrote a “Pollution Abatement Plan,” which admitted that “the problem involves the entire United States, Canada and sections of Europe, especially the United Kingdom and Sweden…. [O]ther areas of Europe, Asia and Latin America will surely become involved. Evidence of contamination [has] been shown in some of the very remote parts of the world. They knew “the evidence proving the persistence of these compounds and their universal presence as residues in the environment is beyond questioning.” The plan warned that “the corporate image of Monsanto as a responsible member of the business world genuinely concerned with the welfare of our environment will be adversely affected with increased publicity.” More to the point, “direct lawsuits are possible” because “all customers using these products have not been officially notified about known effects nor [do] our labels carry this information.” The plan proposed three options, with charts showing their potential profits and liabilities. Should Monsanto “Do Nothing,” profits would likely decline and liability extend into the future. “We cannot deny the findings and the accusations of various agencies,” the plan said. “If we took no action we would likely face numerous suits.” Under the “Discontinue Manufacture of PCB” option, profits would cease and liability would soar because “we would be admitting guilt by our actions.” But with the “Responsible Approach,” which involved acknowledging certain aspects of the problem, tightening restrictions, and continuing to manufacture and sell PCBs, profits theoretically would increase and liability slowly decline, all but vanishing by the mid-1970s. It was this latter approach that Monsanto chose, making some adjustments to its business practices but going to battle with the government to keep PCBs on the market, despite growing scientific evidence that they constituted a public-health menace and an environmental nightmare. Henceforth, Monsanto required its customers to sign indemnity agreements to hold it harmless from any future liability. Monsanto also vowed to sell PCBs only to customers who would use them in “totally enclosed systems” – even as it continued to market PCBs in products that directly contacted food. 
1969 — Monsanto established a committee to keep abreast of the state of knowledge on PCBs. The issue was beginning to look like “a monster,” in the words of one former executive. According to the notes of one Monsanto researcher, these were the thoughts of the group: “Make the Govt., States and Universities prove their case, but avoid as much confrontation as possible…. We can prove some things are OK at low concentration. Give Monsanto some defense…. We can’t defend vs. everything. Some animals or fish or insects will be harmed…. The Dept. of Interior and/or state authorities could monitor plant outfall and find [discharges] of chlorinated biphenyls at…Anniston anytime they choose to do so. This would shut us down depending on what plants or animals they choose to find harmed…” Also, he wrote: “Problem: Damage to the ecological system by contamination from polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB). Legal Liability: Direct lawsuits are possible. The materials are already present in nature having done their “alleged damage.” All customers using the products have not been officially notified about known effects nor [do] our labels carry this information.” Public Image: The corporate image of Monsanto as a responsible member of the business world genuinely concerned with the welfare of our environment will be adversely affected with increased publicity. 
1969 – The National Environmental Act was passed by Congress. This required an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for every major new project. It also focused the country’s attention on the conditions of our rivers. 
1969-1970 — Paper company discharges of PCBs into the Fox River peaked.
1970 — Annual U.S. production peaked this year, with 85 million pounds of PCBs produced. 
1970 — Monsanto physician Emmett Kelly revealed to W. B. Papageorge that tons of cattle feed from several Ohio silos had been contaminated by leaching and flaking paint based on the company’s Aroclor 1254 PCB-oil. As a result, milk from three herds was tainted. Kelly estimated up to 50 other silos in the state were painted similarly. “All in all, this could be quite a serious problem, having legal and publicity overtones,” the Monsanto doctor warned. “This brings us to a very serious point. When are we going to tell our customers not to use any Aroclor in any paint formulation that contacts food, feed, or water for animals or humans? I think it is very important that this be done…. I think we should make a blanket recommendation against these uses.” Despite years of discovery in lawsuits, Monsanto has not produced any evidence that such a warning was issued. 
1970 — Monsanto purchased 50 hogs from Jeremiah Smith, local farmer in Anniston, Alabama, after the hogs grazed on property near the company’s PCB plant. The hogs were shot and buried, not sold for market. Local residents cite this as evidence that the company knew about serious local contamination but didn’t warn the public, who continued to eat PCB contaminated local foods for decades to come. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services, completed a health study in Anniston recently, which found that PCB exposure in the town is a public health hazard. It also suggested that eating local pork, fish and chicken has been a major source of PCB contamination. 
1970 — The first proposal for a total ban on PCBs was made by Representative William Fitz Ryan (D-N.Y.). But partly due to false health reassurances based on Monsanto’s fraudulent IBT tests, the substance stayed on the market until the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. Monsanto officials responded to Ryan by saying they were “well aware of the concern” over PCBs. 
1970 — Monsanto said steps had been taken to insure public safety, but denied knowledge of whether any PCBs had been released from its W.G. Krummrich plant in Sauget, Illinois. (Monsanto’s plant in Sauget has over a dozen chemical dumps on it, according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL, several of them containing substantial quantities of PCBs, at concentrations as high as 74,000 parts per million (ppm), or 7.4 percent. For years, the Sauget plant was the nation’s largest single manufacturer of PCBs. Monsanto officials insist that the PCBs on their property do not necessarily belong to them. Anyone could have dumped PCBs there, they say. All told, there are more than one million tons of chemical wastes on Monsanto’s property. Monsanto insists the wastes did not necessarily come from their plant, located half a mile north of the dumps. It is company policy to destroy waste records after 4 years. Meanwhile the state of Illinois has spent 12 years and $1.3 million trying to get the Monsanto site listed on the federal Superfund. An estimated 13 tons of chemical wastes leach off the Monsanto site into the Mississippi River each year.) 
1970s — Scientists studying damage to wildlife from DDT realized there was something else causing problems similar to DDT, and soon they identified PCBs as the culprit. 
1970 — Monsanto’s R. E. Keller noted in an internal memo that specially prepared PCB samples sent to a lab for animal toxicity testing were free of troublesome dibenzofurans “which might bias the results.” As an aside, he added they were free from dioxin contamination as well. According to attorney Paul Merrell, “The implication is that the PCBs they tested did not contain the toxic material, but that it was common in their product. It’s evidence of a cover-up.” Merrell is an attorney in a lawsuit challenging the informed silence of the PCB manufacturers. His client, the Nevada Power Company, has charged GE, Westinghouse, and Monsanto in federal district court with fraud and deliberate failure to warn the utility and its customers about product defects and negative health effects associated with PCBs. The companies’ initial defense was to argue that the utility was aware of the dangers long before it filed its suit in 1988 and should have suspected fraud earlier, but that the statute of limitations had now passed. “Nevada Power actually knew of the product defects and of facts contrary to those represented” by the PCB manufacturers at the time of sale, argued Monsanto attorney Bruce Featherstone in 1991. “They had actual knowledge of the facts constituting a fraud.” 
1970 — Campbell’s Soup Company had to slaughter 146,000 chickens after detecting high levels of PCBs in chickens raised in New York State. 
1970 — Bob Boyle, of Sports Illustrated, published an article entitled “Poison Roams Our Seas” in which he warned of dangerously high levels of PCBs in fish. 
1970 —- In order to maintain its position that “PCBs are not and cannot be classified as highly toxic,” Monsanto engaged Industrial Bio-Test Labs of Northbrook, Illinois, to do safety studies on its Aroclor PCB products. Seven years later, IBT Labs would be at the center of one of the most far-reaching scandals in modern science, as thousands of its studies were revealed through EPA and FDA investigations to be fraudulent or grossly inadequate. One of IBT’s top executives was Dr. Paul Wright, a Monsanto toxicologist who took a job at IBT Labs in part to supervise the PCB tests, and then returned to Monsanto. Wright was eventually convicted of multiple counts of fraud in one of the longest criminal trials in U. S. history -with his legal fees paid by Monsanto. While fraud on the PCB tests was not raised in the IBT trial, it is strongly suggested by memos and letters that came to light in later civil lawsuits. Several of these show how, at Monsanto’s request, IBT Labs customized its studies. “I think we are surprised (and disappointed?) at the apparent toxicity at the levels studied,” Monsanto’s Elmer Wheeler wrote in March 1970 to IBT president Joseph Calandra. “I doubt that there is any explanation for this but I do think that we might exchange some new thoughts.” In a letter to IBT Labs two months later commenting on a set of PCB test results, Wheeler wrote, “We would hope that we might find a higher ‘no effect’ level with this sample as compared to the previous work.” In later years, Monsanto’s requests would become even more blatant. “In two instances, the previous conclusion of ‘slightly tumorigenic’ was changed to ‘non-carcinogenic,’” Monsanto wrote in July 1975. “The latter phrase is preferable. May we request that the Aroclor 1254 report be amended to say ‘does not appear to be carcinogenic.’” Two weeks later, Calandra responded: “We will amend our statement in the last paragraph on page 2 of the Aroclor 1254 report to read, ‘does not appear to be carcinogenic’ in place of ‘slightly tumorigenic’ as requested.” Testimony about the IBT Labs scandal in a Texas lawsuit against Monsanto indicates that IBT was aware that PCBs caused extremely high numbers of tumors in test rats, with 82 percent developing tumors when fed Aroclor 1254 at 10 parts per million and 100 percent at 100 parts per million. Yet IBT Labs certified PCBs a noncarcinogen.  For more information, read: http://www.rachel.org/search/index.cfm?St=1 Enter: “Toxic Deception”
1971 — Papageorge addressed a special committee of the American National Standards Institute that was searching for ways to extend the use of PCBs. “We cannot overlook the emotions that have set in,” he said, “and believe me, there are many and they are deep. As you know, the references in the popular press to hazardous poisons and birth defects, which have not been substantiated, are most difficult to overcome.” 
1971 — Fearing lawsuits, Monsanto began requiring its customers like Westinghouse to sign a waiver relieving it of financial liability for improper uses of the chemical, thus putting buyers on notice of possible dangers. 
1971 — A group of Westinghouse staff met to discuss PCBs and they noted that PCBs concentrate in the food chain The Dec. 28 minutes of the meeting (stamped “PROPRIETARY CLASS 1 — DESTROY BY BURNING OR SHREDDING”) acknowledged the problems of PCB accumulation in wildlife, and indicated that PCBs caused reproductive disorders in chickens and birth defects in victims of the Yusho Incident. They also acknowledged that Yusho might have involved dibenzofurans [furans], which are created when PCB oil is heated. The minutes said: “It was generally concluded that… there is sufficient evidence that pcbs can be deleterious to the health of animal and human life and that the risks of ignoring the evidence that does exist was [sic] inappropriate for Westinghouse.” Yet the 1971 memo recommended continued use of PCBs. 
1971 — A Westinghouse biochemist named Thomas O. Munson says he received instructions directly from then-chief executive officer Donald C. Burnham to study PCB contamination around four Westinghouse plants. In 1972 Munson submitted his report to Westinghouse officials, urging them to tell the local communities of the massive contamination he had found and to take remedial action. Instead Westinghouse kept the Munson report secret and continued to dump liquid PCBs directly into the local environments, Munson says. 
1971 — Monsanto destroyed another 88,000 chickens in North Carolina because a PCB leak from a heating system had contaminated the feed. 
1972 — Monsanto provided its customers a Q & A sheet, which reads in part: “PCB is a persistent chemical which builds up in the environment. It, therefore, should not be allowed to escape to the environment.” 
1972 — The US Attorneys Office, desperate to take some kind of action to clean up the Hudson River, filed suit against Anaconda. Anaconda was found guilty of 100 counts of pollution of the Hudson river and fined $200,000. 
1973 — GE wrote to EPA, saying, “The low order of toxicity to man is supported by several decades experience in the U.S. electrical industry,” GE urged EPA not to regulate PCBs. In its comments, Monsanto stated that “PCB has always been considered less hazardous than many other chemicals in everyday use.”
1973 — Researchers begin reporting that marine mammals are suffering from reproductive problems associated with high organochlorine residues (such as PCBs).  Some scientists now believe that as more PCBs reach the oceans, all large marine mammals could become extinct. 
1973 — U.S. Food and Drug Administration establishes a tolerance level of 5.0 parts per million (ppm) in fish. (Though in many parts of the country it would be years before local fish were actually tested, due to the high cost.)
1973 — The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) urged all member countries to limit the use of PCBs and develop control mechanisms. (PCBs have not been manufactured in North America since 1977, but continued for 2 more decades in other parts of the world.) 
1974 — A General Electric in-house memo reveals that both GE and Westinghouse were secretly aware of the possibility of transformer explosions ten years before the EPA issued warnings about it. “As you know,” GE engineer T. L. Mayes cautioned his colleagues, “Westinghouse had a network transformer explosion recently, resulting in two fatalities.” Mayes also mentioned that some grades of PCBs apparently create an explosive gas when transformers malfunction – a danger the company concealed from its customers. Neither were customers informed that when burned (as in an explosion), PCBs create dioxins and dibenzofurans – although the manufacturers knew this by 1970 at the latest. In fact, PCBs were aggressively marketed as safety products; the manufacturers even convinced insurance companies to require their customers to use PCB transformers. Monsanto, Westinghouse, and GE publicly denied explosion problems. 
1974 — Files show that EPA and the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) knew about the dioxin and PCB contamination throughout eastern Missouri but waited nine years before taking any action to protect the public. C.D. Stelzer caught EPA officials in outright lies when they claimed they knew nothing about dioxin contamination in Missouri until “after 1980.”[1, 5] For more information, read:http://www.rachel.org/search/index.cfm?St=1 Enter: “Why is EPA Ignoring Monsanto?”
1974 — A publication by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) titled “Guidelines for Handling and Disposal of Capacitor- and Transformer-Grade Askarels Containing [PCBs]” which states that “medical records over a nearly 40-year period show that the only adverse health effects experienced by U.S. workers exposed to [PCBs] . . . during the manufacture of these liquids . . . have been limited to occasional cases of nonchronic chloracne or other temporary skin lesions or irritations.” William Papageorge, a Monsanto employee, chaired the ANSI committee. 
1975 — In a letter from William Papageorge, of Monsanto, to Dan Albert in Westinghouse’s Personnel Department, he warned Westinghouse at length of the risk of skin irritation, chloracne, injury to cellular tissue, “serious liver injury” (emphasis in original), and even death, from PCB exposure. 
1975 — Monsanto’s lab submitted its findings from a two-year study of PCBs’ effects on rats. An early draft of the report said that in some cases, PCBs had caused tumors. George Levinskas, Monsanto’s manager for environmental assessment and toxicology, wrote to the lab’s director: “May we request that the [PCB] 1254 report be amended to say ‘does not appear to be carcinogenic.’”
The final report adopted the company’s suggested language and dropped all references to tumors. 
1975 — A farming family in Bloomington, Indiana, unknowingly spread 100 tons of PCB contaminated sludge (300 ppm) on their fields. The soil tested at 50 ppm and the milk from their cows was measured at 5 ppm (more than twice the maximum allowable limit). This level of contamination endangered both them and their livestock and 80 tons had to be completely removed. 
1975 — 124,000 cans of salmon from Lake Michigan were seized because of a PCB. 
1976 — Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act which outlawed the manufacture, sale, and distribution of PCBs except in “totally enclosed” systems, within 3 years. It was the only chemical Congress itself has ever banned. However, enclosed transformers and capacitors are STILL allowed to contain PCBs.
1976 — After returning to Monsanto, Paul Wright of IBT Labs was given a $1,000 award for “forestalling EPA’s promulgation of unrealistic regulations to limit discharges of polychlorinated biphenyls.” A year later, IBT Labs was found out, and Wright, Calandra, and another IBT exec were eventually convicted of federal fraud charges. 
1976 —Doctors at Mt. Sinai Hospital announced the results of their study which showed that nearly half of all workers at the GE plants had developed some type of skin problem; many of which were known types associated with PCB exposure. 
1977 – Monsanto stopped manufacturing PCBs in the U.S. and GE finally stopped dumping PCBs into the Hudson River. Dr. Robert Korns published his population study on people from Poughkeepsie, NY who were drinking water from the Hudson as high as 100 ppm PCBs. This study showed increased incidences (5 to 10 times) of colorectal cancer in men in Poughkeepsie. The FDA proposed lowering the PCB tolerance levels from 5 to 2 ppm for fish and shellfish, which was postponed until 1984 due to industry opposition. Occidental Petroleum (owner of Hooker Chemical) was held responsible for the toxic waste site at Love Canal and ordered to pay cleanup costs. It was in this context in 1977 that ARCO took over all of the holdings of Anaconda worldwide. It is naive to think that ARCO was not fully aware of these PCB problems and the cleanup liabilities of Anaconda within a short time after the takeover. 
1978 — President Jimmy Carter declared Love Canal a disaster area and ordered the evacuation of all homes in the area due to toxic chemicals. In Sept., The USDA destroyed nearly 400,000 pounds of poultry and pork in Billings, Montana because a mere 200 gals of PCB/oil mixture had leaked from a transformer into their feed. That same month, Dr. Robert Dougherty, at Florida State, released his report which showed that sperm counts had fallen so low among students that 23% were functionally sterile. He attributed this trend in part to increased levels of PCB in their semen. 
1979 — The Environmental Protection Agency issued final regulations banning the manufacture of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), after a 3-year phase-out period. In addition, the EPA rules gradually ended many industrial uses of PCBs over the next five years, but allowed their continued use in existing enclosed electrical equipment under controlled conditions.
1979 — A study followed employees who had worked at Monsanto’s PCB production plant. J. Zack & D. Munsch, Mortality of PCB Workers at the Monsanto Plant in Sauget, Illinois (Dec. 14, 1979)(unpublished report), 3 Rec., Doc. No. 11. The authors of this study found that the incidence of lung cancer deaths among these workers was somewhat higher than would ordinarily be expected. The increase, however, was not considered “statistically significant” and the authors of the study did not suggest a link between the increase in lung cancer deaths and the exposure to PCBs.
1980 – Congress passed the Superfund Law designed to provide financing for cleanup of the country’s major toxic waste sites.
1980s — Researchers began to find that workers exposed to PCBs were dying of skin cancer and, perhaps, of brain cancer. Westinghouse and Monsanto maintain that they always informed their workers completely about the hazards of PCBs, but during the 1990s, thousands of workers began to sue for damages, saying the companies misled them. 
1980s — Prior to her dismissal, Rita Lavelle, of the U.S. EPA under Pres. Reagan, allegedly used the billion dollar Superfund program for political ends. In addition, congressional investigations in 1982 and 1983 revealed Lavelle had private discussions with officials at Monsanto and other corporations concerning regulatory matters. When Congress subpoenaed documents—including those related to contamination at Times Beach, Missouri — the EPA initially withheld the information on the advice of the White House and Department of Justice. The level of stonewalling reached a crescendo when Congress discovered EPA officials had ordered the wholesale shredding of sensitive files. The showdown with Congress ultimately forced Reagan to replace EPA administrator Anne Gorsuch-Burford with William D. Ruckelshaus, who had headed the agency at its inception. Ruckelshaus’ resume, however, contains more than one entry to that has received criticism. Environmentalists point out that during his career, Ruckelshaus has had many close ties to polluting industries—including a directorship at Monsanto. 
1980s — Monsanto begins funding phony “public interest” groups, such as the American Council on Science and Health, run by Elizabeth Whelan, to defend Monsanto’s products, inlcuding PCBs, the cancer-causing herbicide 2,4,5-T, the artificial sweetener Nutrasweet, and the genetically engineered hormone rBGH, which is now being added to much of the world’s milk supply (by injection into dairy cows.) 
1981 —In a speech, a Monsanto toxicologist claimed, “There has never been a single documented case in this country where PCBs have been shown to cause cancer or any other serious human health problems. In the classical short term exposure, or acute toxicity sense, PCBs are classified as ‘slightly toxic’ by oral ingestion.” Their toxicity was similar, he said, to table salt. “Monsanto, the government and the electrical industry together concluded that the benefits to society of continued PCB use far outweighed the risk.” Decades after the Drinker study demonstrated PCBs’ toxicity, 25 years after Monsanto’s files indicated that dioxin and dibenzofurans [furans] were contaminants in PCBs, and with a former Monsanto official standing trial for fraud, Monsanto still claimed that PCBs were safe. 
1983 — The federal government evacuated all the citizens from the town of Times Beach, Missouri, because the town was heavily contaminated with dioxins, PCBs, and pesticides. 
1987 — Westinghouse sues its insurers for defense against pending claims at 74 hazardous sites in 23 states.
1987 — Workers at an Italian capacitor plant who had been exposed to PCBs. Bertazzi, Riboldi, Pesatori, Radice, & Zocchetti, Cancer Mortality of Capacitor Manufacturing Workers, 11 American Journal of Industrial Medicine 165 (1987). The authors noted that lung cancer deaths among ex-employees at the plant were higher than might have been expected, but concluded that “there were apparently no grounds for associating lung cancer deaths (although increased above expectations) and exposure in the plant.”
1987-88 — In a 22 page memo, a Westinghouse staff lawyer describes extensive paper and microfilm records held by the Westinghouse Industrial Hygiene Department: “The majority of the documents in Industrial Hygiene’s files are potential ‘smoking gun’ documents,” the memo says. The memo goes on, “The files are filled with documentation which critiques and criticizes, from an industrial hygiene perspective, Westinghouse manufacturing and non-manufacturing operations. This documentation often times points out deficiencies in Westinghouse operations and suggests recommendations to correct these deficiencies. Industrial Hygiene’s files contain information which details the various chemical substances used at Westinghouse sites over the years and often times the inadequacies in Westinghouse’s use and handling of the substances. The files contain many years of employee test results, some of them unfavorable,” the memo says. The memo says Westinghouse executives must ask certain questions before deciding to keep or destroy the smoking gun records. The first question is, “What are the chances of litigation? Is it pending or imminent?” The second question is, “In the case of litigation, which party would have the burden of proof?” “We recommend that all such files generated prior to 1974 be discarded…. In our opinion, the risks of keeping these files on the whole substantially exceed the advantages of maintaining the records….” Westinghouse officials deny that the memo was acted upon. They say they still have all the company’s files intact. However, in a lawsuit against Westinghouse by Nevada Power and Light (NP&L), Westinghouse did not produce documents, such as correspondence between Westinghouse and Monsanto, requested by NP&L in a “discovery” proceeding. Monsanto, on the other hand, did produce correspondence with Westinghouse officials. NP&L is suing Westinghouse, GE and Monsanto for $48.5 million in compensatory damages for costs the utility says it incurred because of PCBs in electric power equipment. Furthermore, in sworn testimony in the NP&L case, three Westinghouse employees or former employees described how files that they maintained about PCBs were taken from them by members of Westinghouse legal staff in the 1980s and never returned to them. Westinghouse attorneys tried to have the “smoking gun” memo declared “privileged” so that it would remain under wraps. On February 9, 1993, Texas Judge Paul R. Davis ruled against Westinghouse, saying the memo “falls within the crime/fraud exemption to privileged documents” under Texas law because, the Judge said, the memo was “prepared, and describe[s] a plan, to commit fraud on the courts of this nation.” Westinghouse denies fraudulent intention, but destroying documents that might be needed in foreseeable litigation is forbidden under U.S. law. [1,26,27]
1988 — The journal Environmental Pollution published an article revealing that marine mammals, such as dolphins, whales and porpoises all contained levels of PCBs that far exceeded that of their terrestrial counterparts. Mediterranean blue-white dolphins, for example, were found to carry 833 parts per million in their blubber ˜ nearly 17 times the level requiring goods to be labelled and handled as toxic waste. Marine mammals are acutely sensitive to PCB hormonal effects, and may be threatened with extinction. Numerous scientific studies have occurred on this topic. 
1990 — Studies find children exposed in the womb to PCBs at levels considered “background levels” in the U.S. were found to experience hypotonia (loss of muscle tone) and hyporeflexia (weakened reflexes) at birth, delays in psychomotor development at ages 6 and 12 months, and diminished visual recognition memory at 7 months. 
1990 — EPA research chemist Cate Jenkins wrote a memo to Raymond Loehr, the chair of the Executive Committee of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board asking that the EPA reassess the toxicity of dioxins. She said EPA relied on “newly revealed” fraudulent data by Monsanto” to assess dioxin risks and set standards for human health protection. Instead, EPA launched an investigation of Jenkins and she was harrassed in her workplace. For more information, read: http://www.rachel.org/search/index.cfm?St=1 Enter: “Dioxin and Cancer: Fraudulent Studies.” Also: “EPA Investigates Monsanto.” This experience raises concerns about the honesty of any Monsanto PCB data as well. 
1991 — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services labeled PCBs as a probable carcinogen. 
1992 — A compilation study was released linking human reproductive problems with PCBs, due to hormone-like effects. PCBs are now documented disruptors of the human endocrine system. 
1993 — Research shows that people living in the arctic regions are heavily dosed by PCBs which migrated to the region via the atmosphere and settled out in the cold air. Local diets are dominated by consumption of fish, seal and whale meat, which puts the people at serious risk from PCB bioaccumulation up the food chain.
1993 — “Monsanto’s actions involving PCBs have always been responsible,” spokesperson Diane Herndon wrote in a 1993 statement. According to GE’s Jack Batty, “Public perception about the health risks of PCBs and the scientific facts are in conflict. Most scientists agree that PCBs are not the hazard to human health that was feared in the 1970s.” [Actually, the EPA’s reassessment found them to be a greater hazard than was feared then.] “PCBs have produced tumors in some laboratory animals, but there is no proof – based on human exposure of more than 40 years – that PCBs cause cancer or any other serious health problems in people.” 
1994 — U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announces the start of a Natural Resource Damage Assessment on the Fox River and Green Bay, to calculation compensation and restoration costs resulting from PCB damages to the system.
1994 — Researchers report that boys in Taiwan exposed to PCBs while in their mothers’ womb developed smaller penises as they mature, compared to normal boys in Taiwan. 
1994 — A Los Angeles jury awarded the Transwestern Pipeline Co. a $9.7million verdict for PCB harms. From 1968 to 1972, Transwestern Pipeline Co. used a lubricant containing PCBs in the gas compression of its natural gas pipeline across New Mexico, Arizona and part of California. The contamination was discovered in 1981 and cleanup of the pipeline began shortly thereafter. One of Transwestern’s customers, Southern California Gas Co., sued Transwestern for the costs of the cleanup and won an arbitration. The terms of that arbitration were confidential. Transwestern sued Monsanto Co., which provided the lubricant, for equitable indemnification to recover its costs for removing the PCB contaminatlon. Transwestern charged that Monsanto had manufactured a defective product. Monsanto attempted to deny liability, but lost. 
1994 — A 30 page memo by an EPA official accused the EPA of conducting a “fraudulent” criminal investigation of Monsanto. The memo, by William Sanjour to his supervisor, David Bussard, on July 20, describes a two-year-long criminal investigation of Monsanto by EPA’s Office of Criminal Investigation. The EPA opened its investigation on Aug. 20, 1990 and formally closed it on Aug. 7, 1992 without taking action against Monsanto. For more information, read: http://www.rachel.org/search/index.cfm?St=1 and enter “EPA investigates Monsanto.” 
1995 — Studies showed (6) that women who eat fish from the contaminated waters of the Great Lakes and Canada give birth to children with an unusually high susceptibility to bacterial infection. PCBs were also shown to damage nerves in the brains of developing mammalian fetuses, leading to behavioral and learning defects. 
1997 — Study links PCBs to cancer in electric utility workers. 
1997 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposes the Fox River as a federal Superfund site, for PCB hazardous waste cleanup.
1998 — After 28 years of continuous publication, THE ECOLOGIST, England’s leading environmental magazine, had major problems finding a publisher, then retailers, willing to risk a Monsanto libel suit for the release of their September/October 1998 issue, which was devoted entirely to Monsanto. A much more limited run was done, but copies are scarce. Monsanto claims they had nothing to do with frightening the publishers or retailers. — Titles of articles being censored included: The Monsanto Files, An Open Letter to Robert Shapiro, CEO, Monsanto; Seeds of Disaster; Monsanto: A Checkered History; PCBs: Can the World’s Sea Mammals Survive Them?; Agent Orange: The Poisoning of Vietnam; Bovine Growth Hormones; Roundup: The World’s Biggest-Selling Herbicide; The Terminator Technology; Revolving Doors: Monsanto and the Regulators; Cosy Relations: Monsanto and the UK Environment Agency; Getting The Government On Your Side; Call to Sack UK Biotech Advisers; Corruption of ‘Organic’ in the US; Monsanto’s Failing PR Strategy; The PR Professionals; Monsanto Propaganda and an African Response to it; Why Biotechnology and High-Tech Agriculture Cannot Feed the World; How Monsanto ‘Listens’ to Other Opinions; Hiding Damaging Information from the Public; SLAPPing Resistance; Monsanto Visits The Guardian; “Monsanto Took Me To Court – and Lost”; A Message from India; “Monsanto, You Have Shamed Us”; The Frankenstein Corporation: Monsanto s Merger with American Home Products; Boycott: Brands and Products to Avoid; Who Are the Real Terrorists?; Return of the Seed Savers. 
1998 — An article in the Ecologist highlights the fact that over the years, key govemment figures at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory bodies, have either come from, or gone on to hold senior positions at Monsanto.  (That in part might explain why Monsanto gets clearance for its often dangerous products.) The FDA determines the PCBs levels allowed in the U.S. food supply, often setting weak standards such as the 2 ppm PCB federal standard for commercial fish and 3 ppm for chicken. (The Great Lakes standard set by the region’s states for sport-caught fish is only .05 ppm PCBs.)
1998 — For 3 years, the Norwegian Polar Institute has found polar bears with both male and female sex organs. This year, 4 hermaphroditic cubs were seen. Researchers fear up to 4% of the bears may be affected. 
1999 — A Philadelphia jury ruled that Monsanto should pay $90 million in damages to the State of Pennsylvania for selling defective and toxic PCBs that left a 12-story building contaminated after a 1994 fire. PCBs were present in glue used in the ductwork of the 30-year-old Dept. of Transportation headquarters. Elevated levels of PCBs were discovered only after the fire, and state officials cited the contamination as a reason for their decision to demolish the building in August 1998. “This is a very historic case,” the state’s lawyer said, “one which establishes an incredible precedent: that Monsanto is responsible for PCB contamination, which for years they have ignored and denied all over the country.” 
2000 — U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service completes the Fox River Natural Resource Damage Assessment and proposes a compensation and restoration plan. The plan can’t be finalized until the Superfund sediment cleanup Record of Decision is finalized by U.S. EPA. (Hopefully, in 2001).
2000 — EPA discovered that PCBs made in Anniston, Alabama, were contaminated with lead, which may have come from lead vats used in the Monsanto plant (now owned by Solutia, Inc.). 70 percent of the PCB-polluted spots being studied in Anniston have unsafe levels of lead, from 400 to 3,080 ppm (parts per million). 47 landowners have been impacted. Lead is considered one of the nation’s top pollution hazards to children because it damages developing neurological systems, causing lowered intelligence and learning problems. Lead also causes anemia, neurological difficulties and reproductive problems in people of all ages, but adults usually show effects only when exposed to high lead levels found in industrial settings. 
2000 — The United Nations Environment Program committee concluded a 3-years process of international treaty negotiations between 120 nations a global, legally-binding ban on 12 persistent organic pollutants (called POPs), including PCBs, Dioxins and Furans. The POPs Treaty will be signed in Stockholm on 22-23 May 2001. Ratification by at least 50 countries will be required before the treaty enters into force, a process likely to take 3-4 years. [43,44]
2001 — U.S. EPA and Wisconsin DNR are due to release the final proposed cleanup plan for the Fox River.
Monsanto Company Profile
Monsanto Company Profile part I of IV
Our Arch Nemesis
If ever there was a company that stands for everything Organic Lifestyle Magazine stands against, it’s Monsanto. To us they are the villain, a company that embodies virtually everything we at OLM believe to be wrong with big business today. We would be hard pressed to find a company whose products have done more to harm our planet.
Many argue that Monsanto’s potential to devastate life as we know it is second only to producers of atomic bombs. Ironically, Monsanto was also heavily involved in the Manhattan Project and the creation of the world’s first nuclear bomb.
Monsanto started in 1901 as a chemical company. Their first product was saccharine, a coal tar product, which has had a controversial history. You may know it as Sweet‘N Low, the artificial sweetener sold in little pink packages.
Though saccharin was their first, Monsanto is also well known for many other chemical and chemically based products including Agent Orange, Bovine Growth Hormone, Polychlorinated biphenyl (commonly known as PCBs), Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (DDT), and RoundUp.
Today, Monsanto is a leader in the bio-tech industry selling RoundUp ready GMO seeds. Its main crops are soy, cotton, sugar beets, and canola. Its controversial bovine growth hormone, rBST, was sold to the Eli Lilly Company earlier this year.
We asked Brad Mitchell, Director of Public Affairs for Monsanto if we were dealing with a new Monsanto since our take on Monsanto’s reputation is one of deception, corruption, bribery, and environmental degradation, a company that made significantly bad choices.
“I think more than anything, it’s a new age,” he said. “…I think you’re holding the Monsanto of the middle part of the 20th century against the standards of today. So, for instance, if you look at PCBs we all know today that what Monsanto did there was wrong. It shouldn’t have been done. Did we, Monsanto, or society as a whole know in the 60s or the 50s that that was wrong? I don’t think that we were as environmentally sophisticated as we are today.
“…I’m not saying that we’re not liable, that we shouldn’t have done it, and all that, but you know, when you make these kind[s] of statements about how Monsanto obviously disregarded human health and public safety and the environment for profit, I wasn’t there. I can’t tell you what was in people’s hearts and minds. I do believe, however, that to some extent we’re being held against today’s standards for actions that occurred half a century ago.”
Perhaps we could agree that these actions occurred half a century ago if Monsanto had
voluntarily embarked on a clean-up of PCB contamination in Anniston, Alabama, in any decade following the 50s or 60s. If they had, perhaps we could believe the corporation has grown a conscience. According to The Washington Post, it was February 2002 when Monsanto was held liable by an Alabama jury for all six counts it considered: negligence, wantonness, suppression of the truth, nuisance, trespass and outrage. The Post quotes the legal definition of outrage under Alabama law as conduct, “so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency so as to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in civilized society.”
The Center for Food Safety maintains a website, www.monsantowatch.org. On this site they report, “In August, 2003, Monsanto and its former chemical subsidiary, Solutia, Inc. (now owned by Pharmacia Corp.), agreed to pay $600 million to settle claims brought by more than 20,000 residents of Anniston, AL, over the severe contamination of ground and water by tons of PCBs dumped in the area from the 1930s until the 1970s. Court documents revealed that Monsanto was aware of the contamination decades earlier.”
History tells us Monsanto was well aware of the damage their silence and lack of action brought Anniston as The Center for Food Safety also reports, “The world’s center of PCB manufacturing was Monsanto’s plant on the outskirts of East St. Louis, Illinois, which has the highest rate of fetal death and immature births in the state. By 1982, nearby Times Beach, Missouri, was found to be so thoroughly contaminated with dioxin, a by-product of PCB manufacturing, that the government ordered it evacuated.”
Monsanto can, however, claim the Monsanto of today is not the Monsanto of yesteryear. According to Wikipedia, the Monsanto of 1901-2000 and the current business are now two legally separate corporations, though they share the same name as well as many of the same executives and workers. The “new” Monsanto is an agricultural company (as opposed to a chemical company).
Are Monsanto’s misdeeds a thing of the past? In 2005, BBC News reported that Monsanto agreed to pay a $1.5 million dollar fine for bribing an Indonesian official “to avoid environmental impact studies being conducted on its [bio-tech] cotton.” Monsanto said it accepted full responsibility for its “improper activities” and agreed to three years of close monitoring of its business practices by American authorities.
GMO seeds were approved by the FDA under the GRAS designation—generally recognized as safe. As such, Monsanto’s bio-tech seeds were granted exemption from premarket approval by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Due to this ruling, the onus to ensure the safety of genetically altered food created by Monsanto rests with Monsanto, a company whose actions have revealed an unparalleled disregard for human life and environmental safety.
Opponents of GMOs often quote a cavalier statement made by Phil Angell, Monsanto’s former director of corporate communications to author Michael Pollan. In Pollan’s article, Playing God in the Garden, published in the New York Times Magazine in 1998, Angell is quoted as saying, “Monsanto should not have to vouch for the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.”
When we asked Mr. Mitchell if he was familiar with this statement, he said he thought the statement had been made by a Monsanto foreman and that it was taken out of context. “I don’t know the gentleman, but I do know the general feeling here. There is nobody here at Monsanto that I know that says, ‘Screw safety, that’s not our problem, it’s FDA’s.’ I think what the gentleman quoted is referring to is that when it comes down to it, the law, by the law, it’s FDA’s responsibility. I don’t know a single person at Monsanto who does not believe that we have the responsibility. But if you want to look at the law, the final say on this, and the final arbiter, and the people legally charged with safely stating whether it’s safe or not is not Monsanto, it’s FDA.”
Mitchell tells us he and Monsanto’s scientific team have never seen a study that shows any significant risk associated with GMO foods. “I’ve worked with our scientific affairs team, so when studies come out to do analysis and that sort of thing, we have yet to see a study which we think shows us any significant risk with these things. So, those studies are best addressed on a one-on-one basis, and I would say that there are just as many studies, independent as well, that show (chuckles) that there are not risks with them [GMOs].”
He argues that the oft referenced study by Árpád Pusztai showing GMO potatoes was flawed. “My understanding is that there were only six animals in each control group, so statistical significance is pretty weak there.” In addition, he states that Pusztai did not go through the basic safety processes. “The premise of biotech safety in virtually every country that allows these things is something called substantial equivalence.
You compare a genetically modified potato to a non-genetically modified potato against a whole bunch of parameters on stuff they contain. And essentially if it doesn’t cause any physiological or physiochemical differences in the potato, they’re deemed to be substantively equivalent, which means that they are pretty much the same with the exception of the protein that’s expressed in the genetically modified one. …Now the ironic part is that Pusztai, when he did his test, never analyzed the potatoes for substantial equivalence. And in fact there is very good evidence that snowdrop lectin [used in the study] will actually—the protein itself, will change the physiology of that potato where it would not meet the standards of substantial equivalence. So he’s testing a GM product that was never commercialized, that has never even been even through the most basic level of safety, with a poor study, that basically shows and basically came to the conclusion that all genetically modified crops have risks, when he hasn’t even done the basic tests that genetically modified crops go through before being approved.”
In 1997, Steve Wilson and Jane Akre were hired by Fox Television as the researchers
and stars of a new investigative news show, called The Investigators. Akre says they were told, “Do any stories you want. Ask tough questions and get answers.” One of the first stories they proposed was an expose on Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone, rBST, also known as Posilac. Their investigation revealed that Canada refused to approve Posilac, citing health concerns, that Posilac was linked to cancer, and that the FDA had rubberstamped the product without proper testing.
While Monsanto’s publicity stated, “Posilac is the single most tested new product in history,” Wilson and Akre’s investigation revealed that the longest test Monsanto had done for human toxicity was for 90 days on 30 rats.
Legal threats from Monsanto prompted Fox to kill the story and set in motion a chain of events that resulting in Fox firing Steve Wilson and Jane Akre for insubordination after several attempts failed to convince them to kill the story, re-write the story, or out and out lie about its contents. Fox even attempted to bribe the pair, offering them the rest of a year’s salary in exchange for their silence about the story and Fox’s part in it.
Brad Mitchell stated, “We would still contend that Monsanto [rBST] is a safe product. The FDA would support us on that. It’s still being used, albeit by a different company.”
Mitchell also tells us recent Internet rumors that Monsanto was opposed to or tried to prevent the labeling of milk as rBST free were absolutely untrue. “What we were trying to prevent was misleading labeling of milk as being rBST free. And many of the milk companies out there who were labeling it were doing so in a way that was in violation of FDA guidelines and made it basically sound like our product wasn’t safe, and the scientific consensus, at least in this country, was that it is.
“You know, we obviously would prefer that it wasn’t labeled that way, but our gripe was not against people who were labeling milk as rBST free; our real concern was people who were labeling it in opposition to what FDA guidelines set. And the vast majority of the state legislation and the things you saw really were just forcing milk labelers to label in accordance to those guidelines.
“I’ll give you an example, where some milk labels said it’s hormone free. Well, no milk is hormone free. It’s just misleading to say so. Now, if you want to say it’s rBST free, that’s better. What the FDA
suggested was that it says this milk comes from cows not treated with rBST. Obviously we would prefer that people didn’t put that in writing and that people didn’t see a problem with our products. But if they were labeling milk accurately, we would not have had an issue with them.”
Monsanto Company Profile part II of IV
(for part I click here)
Monsanto is a new company. No longer a chemical company, the new Monsanto is an agricultural company, a leader in biotech and GMO technology. Their pledge begins with these words: “We want to make the world a better place for future generations. As an agricultural company, Monsanto can do this best by providing value through the products and systems we offer to farmers.”
Sustainable Yield Initiative
Monsanto states its goal is to increase yields while maintaining or reducing inputs of energy and pesticides through the use of genetically modified crops. Monsanto’s Sustainable Yield Initiative puts forth a goal to double crop yields in corn, soy, and cotton by the year 2030, from the baseline year, 2000. “That’s in countries that have bio-technology, that have adapted that,” says Brad Mitchell, Director of Public Affairs. “And do that using 1/3 less inputs, so nitrogen, water, etcetera… And by doubling those yields we will improve farmer’s lives because more yield means more money in their pockets, and profitability increases.”
Mitchell brags that their biotech is “…skill neutral technology. A farmer in the middle of Iowa will use it and then you can also have a farmer in Argentina use it and it will yield pretty well. It’s something that both can use on their farm no matter how much–if he has 500 acres or 5 acres, they both benefit.”
Monsanto’s biotech seeds are patented. Farmers are not allowed to retain patented seeds from a crop. Each season they are required to purchase new seeds. For this, Monsanto has come under attack, with critics claiming this practice to be unnatural and
unsustainable. Mitchell says, “… a lot of people make a big deal about Monsanto patentingseeds, and how this is going to lead to control over the seed supply and that sort of thing. I have two responses to that. One is, first, patenting of seeds is not new and it’s not unique to either Monsanto or biotech. And if you don’t believe me, go google raspberry and patents and see what you come up with. There are plenty of patent varieties of raspberries out there, and everything from asparagus to zucchini.
Basically if people didn’t have the ability to patent the result of their breeding, there would be no incentive for them to do so.”
Mitchell continues, “The other part of it that I find a little bit amusing and a little bit disheartening is that when people say, ‘Oh well, you can’t save patented seeds. This is the end of the world.’ Well, we’ve had hybrid seeds in production and available to farmers for just about 70 years. And with the vast majority of hybrid seeds, you can’t save those either. And nobody’s made a big deal about that. And the reason you can’t save hybrids, some of them are patented, but more importantly, the offspring seed doesn’t have the genetic consistency of the parent, so no farmer will ever save a hybrid seed because they are not going to know what they are getting. Farmers who have had hybrid seed available for over 70 years they choose them because namely because they give better yields. Some of them have some other traits that they appreciate.”
Due to patent protection and patent infringement investigations, Monsanto employs a number of investigators. Mr. Mitchell could not tell us the exact number, but he estimates the number to be around 40. “And those aren’t all full time, doing this for us, they’re private investigator firms, so a good part of the year they’re not doing save-seed stuff, they’re doing other whatever else investigators do. These are private firms.”
Lawsuits Against Farmers
In films that criticize Monsanto and their relationship with farmers, Monsanto is accused of using their investigators and lawsuits to harass and intimidate. Mitchell says that out of half a million customers, Monsanto has filed 138 lawsuits for patent infringement and nine went to trial; the others settled out of court.
“Now, we kind of have to do this for three reasons,” Mitchell says. “One is we’re not going to make any money if people aren’t buying our products. I mean there’s the patent infringement issue. Two is we owe it to our stockholders, because they invest in this. And a good part of it is, you know, frankly, we put ten percent of our money into research and development, so the third part of this is really if people are getting this technology without paying for it, we’re not going to be able to do that. And we’re not going to see the state of technology today…probably a lot of your readership would like that but not necessarily a lot of the farmers out there.”
“So we’ve got about half a dozen people who have claimed that we have committed these misdeeds. I don’t see it. I was actually outat a farm the other day and we had a seed patent investigation in the neighborhood, and he goes, ‘You know, my neighbor is really upset with you guys. He’s furious with how you handledthis seed patent infringement case.’ (Against the farmer we had a case against and we settled.)’ And I said,’Uh-oh. What’s his problem? And he said, ‘He doesn’t think you went after enough.’ So what we typically hear from farmers is, “Look, I gotta pay for it. Yeah, I’d rather not pay for it and I’d rather not pay for gasoline or my taxes either, but if I’m going to do it, the other guy better, too, because it’s not fair.” Farmers who have settled cases with Monsanto have said they cannot discuss the terms of the settlements, that Monsanto insisted on non-disclosure clauses. Mitchell insists the opposite is true, that the farmers were the ones who asked for the non-disclosures. “Unfortunately what’s happened is that people have turned that against us and said, ‘Well, Monsanto requested these.’ We don’t request nondisclosure and we never have. We, in the past, have agreed to it, but we don’t do it anymore for that very reason.” The money from all of the settlements has been donated to agricultural charities and scholarships. “The ones that actually went through full trial [9 cases], we do retain that, mainly because trials are expensive.”
Hugh Grant, Monsanto Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, is quoted on Monsanto’s website. He states, “As an agricultural and technology company committed to human rights, we have a unique opportunity to protect and advance human rights. We have a responsibility to consider not only how our business can benefit consumers, farmers, and food processors, but how it can protect the human rights of both Monsanto’s employees and our business
Monsanto identifies nine elements in its human rights policy: child labor, forced labor, compensation, working hours, harassment and violence, discrimination, safety, freedom of association, and legal compliance.
Forced, indentured, or bonded labor is unacceptable to Monsanto and Monsanto rejects corporal punishment of any type. Compensation is to meet or exceed minimum wage standards, regardless of performance measures. Monsanto states they will comply with all laws and industry standards with regard to working hours. Harassment, violence, and discrimination will never be tolerated. Monsanto is committed to safety, to the rights of workers to join or not join organizations of their choosing, to associate
freely and bargain collectively. And last but not least, Monsanto states that it “will comply with all applicable local, state and national laws regarding human rights and workers’ rights where the company does business.”
While Monsanto supports young people working within the agricultural business, it wants to ensure that all applicable local, state, and national laws are followed and that none of its business partners practice exploitive child labor practices. To this end, in India Monsanto has added “no child labor” clauses into farmer and third party contracts, has instigated a massive farmer awareness campaign with posters, door to door visits, leaflets, postcards, field audits 10-12 times during the 45-60 pay pollination period (auditors conducted more than 10,000 field visits in 2007), and written farm attendance reports.
Monsanto has also employed incentive/disincentive schemes, paying farmers an incentive if they employ only adult labor. If a farmer is found to be in violation, the child(ren) are removed from the field, the farmer becomes ineligible for incentives, and Monsanto discontinues production with the farmer the following year. The Monsanto Fund, established in 1964, gives funds to communities in the United States and around the world in the company’s areas of operations, including a residential learning center for child laborers, in a further effort to stop the practice of using child labor.
In 2007, The Monsanto Fund pledged 12.6 million to numerous causes around the world.
In our final report on Monsanto, we will discuss seed monopolies, Indian farmer suicides, conflicting reports on crop yields, Roundup safety, and bans on GM crops.
Monsanto Company Profile part III of IV
Second Wave of the Green Revolution
Ten to twelve thousand years ago, fertile ground led to the rise of our first civilizations as mankind began the slow shift from full dependence on hunting and gathering food to planting and growing crops. Seed was saved and sowed from year to year. Wild plants become domesticated. We learned to irrigate fields, to maximize production, to feed nations.
In time, we learned to use selective breeding. Selective breeding produced desired traits such as taste, size, drought resistance, and yields. Experience brought us wisdom. We learned the benefits of crop rotation. Knowing rich soil grew healthy, disease resistant crops, we found natural ways to replenish the land.
But famine has always plagued mankind. Famine is caused by many factors—war; over-population; climate shifts including drought, over abundant rainfall, temperature shifts, decreased sunlight; and so on. Though many would argue we have enough food to feed the world, famines continue. A quick look at the history of famine, and the famine conditions that exist today, explains much about the search for solutions.
Beginning in the 1940s, the agricultural technology of industrialized nations – utilizing fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation techniques, and high yield cultivars (new varieties of grains developed through selective breeding) – was brought to developing nations. Dubbed the “Green Revolution”, these projects created remarkable increases in yields but they also changed the face of traditional farming.
Indian Farmer Suicides
Search anywhere on the net, and you will find story after story blaming Monsanto for alarming suicide rates among poor rural farmers—200,000 or more farmers in India since 1997. The stories claim poor farmers incur debt to purchase Monsanto seeds at 1000 times the conventional price, believing Monsanto’s exorbitant claims that GMO seeds will require little to no pesticide and yield abundant crops, bounties never before seen. These stories also claim GMO seeds require twice the amount of water as conventional seeds. Sold in areas of persistent drought, the crops fail. Farmers, with land now indebted to pay for their inputs of seed, fertilizer, and pesticide, are committing suicide by the thousands, many of them by drinking Monsanto insecticide before they lie down in their fields to die an agonizing death.
Brad Mitchell, Monsanto’s Director of Public Affairs, denies the claim that their
seeds are priced at 1000 times the cost of conventional seeds, but admits their cost is higher. “Monsanto’s seeds are based on value,” he says, directing us to information on the company website that explains higher yields and lower inputs justify a higher price tag on GMO seeds. Mitchell also denies the claim that Bt cotton seeds require more water.
Monsanto’s website states, “Bt cotton has been given an unfair reputation when the true culprit is a smorgasbord of repairable socio-economic problems in India. A variety of third-party studies have proven that personal debt is the historical reason behind an Indian farmer’s decision to commit suicide, notbiotech seed. Think about it this way: if Bt cotton were the root cause of suicidal tendencies, then why is it that Indian farmers represent the fastest-growing users of biotech crops in the world? Between 2005 and 2006, India’s adoption of Bt cotton nearly tripled to 9.5 million acres! Today, Bt cotton is currently used in nine states in India on 14.4 million or 63 percent of India’s total cotton acres. So, if the studies don’t disprove the myths relating Bt cotton to Indian farmer suicide, then perhaps the sales figures will.”1
Brad Mitchell encouraged us to read an independent study by The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Bt Cotton and Farmer Suicides in India, Reviewing The Evidence.
The study reaches the conclusion that on a national level there is no “resurgence” of farmer suicide and no correlation to Bt cotton and farmer suicide rates. Overall, national cotton production “appears” to have a positive correlation to Bt cotton; pesticide use is down.
The study reports farmer suicides at the rate of 14,000 to 18,000 per year representing 14-16 percent of India’s total suicides, since 1997. It concludes, “Based on the observed national trend from 1997 to 2006, one can clearly reject the assertion that the growth in suicides has accelerated in the last five years or so. The number of farmer suicides is significant and tends to be growing over time, but so is the total number of suicides in the general population…” They also state, “Yes, farmer suicide is an important and tragic phenomenon, but it still only represents three-quarters of the total number of suicides due to pesticide ingestion in India and less than a fifth of total suicides in India. Moreover, even if there has been an increasing trend in total suicides, the reported share of farmer suicides has in fact been decreasing. Of course, all these conclusions are based on available estimates, which may be underestimated, but without better data, one
cannot deny that claim.”
The study also reveals that national trends and regional trends on suicide differ as do reports of success with Bt cotton. At the time of the International Food Policy Research Institute report, Bt cotton was cultivated in more than 10 states across India. Bt seed sold at prices up to 400% higher than conventional seed (down from its original price of 500 times the price of conventional seed), and it promised higher yields with fewer inputs (less need to spray with pesticide). “…Bt cotton is a costly technology compared with non-Bt cotton because of the highly priced seeds. At the same time, some farmers seem to have spent significant amounts on other inputs (fertilizers and so forth) with the planting of Bt cotton, based on the belief that this new technology would result in an extraordinary level of yields in all conditions (even with drought) or on the false perception that high pesticide use was still required. Other farmers seem to have purchased high-cost spurious seeds, thinking the seeds were Bt seeds, but they were duped. Lastly, and more generally, a number of farmers bought Bt seeds without considering the type of Bt variety they were purchasing; therefore they blamed the Bt technology itself, when actually the variety they purchased was inadequate for their
India’s first Bt cotton was illegally planted. The seed company held responsible, Navbharat, claimed they collected seed from a number of fields to produce a new hybrid seed, not knowing the seed carried Bt genes. Whether Navbharat told the truth and Monsanto’s seeds were already sown across the countryside or the company was lying and knowingly sold Bt cotton seeds to farmers, the fact remains that Monsanto’s Bt cotton entered India illegally, bypassing safety testing protocols and endangering non-GMO crops with contamination. At roughly the same time, a Monsanto subsidiary in Indonesia bribed an Indonesian official to repeal or modify a law that prevented the introduction of Bt cotton without a legally required environmental impact study.
Indian cotton farmers have “adopted the methods at higher rates than anywhere else on the planet with any other technology ever introduced into agriculture,” says Brad Mitchell.
Monsanto is certainly perpetuating the second wave of the “Green Revolution” model which began in the last century, a movement that encourages farmers to adopt non-sustainable agriculture and results in a dependence on companies such as Monsanto for seed and other inputs. More
and more small Indian farmers have moved into non-sustainable cash crop farming, planting one crop instead of many, and relying on that one cash crop to make a profit that will pay for all the family’s needs. As a result, small rural farms in India are on the decline, an all too familiar scenario.
Monsanto, now the largest seed company in the world, has bought out many seed companies across the nation. Critics are crying foul, with fears that Monsanto is gaining a monopoly on the world’s seed supply. Brad Mitchell says, “At present, if we dominate—if you want to use the word dominate – we dominate through innovative not through unfair business practices. People buy our product because they like it, and because they find value in it, not because they have to. I ask every farmer I meet, ‘Do you have choices?’ and he’ll say. ‘Hell yes.’ So that’s out there. I’ve been looking for statistics on this, but my understanding, and I can’t cite it, but the best understanding I can come up with from personal sources is that about 80% of the world’s seed remain open source; that they’re not patented, they’re not hybrid.”
Anti-GMO critics aren’t the only sources concerned that Monsanto now holds a monopoly on the seed supply. Monsanto’s GMO competitor, DuPont, has gone public with the same concerns about a monopoly, though DuPont’s concern is a monopoly within the bio-tech seed industry. 3
Monsanto’s latest seed company acquisitions to make the headlines are two of the largest seed companies in the world. While purchasing an overseas company is not addressed under U.S. anti-trust laws, the greater concern now becomes global dominance.
On March 31, 2008, Monsanto announced its agreement to acquire DeRuiter Seeds, a Dutch company, one of the world’s leading vegetable seed companies. This action followed the acquisition of Seminis in 2007 for 1.4 billion in cash plus assumed debt. Seminis was the world’s largest seed company. Monsanto’s news release stated, “Seminis is the global leader in the vegetable and fruit seed industry and their brands are among the most recognized in the vegetable-and-fruit segment of agriculture. Seminis supplies more than 3,500 seed varieties to commercial fruit and vegetable growers, dealers, distributors and wholesalers in more than 150 countries around the world.” The Organic Seed Alliance reports Seminis
controlled 40% of the U.S. vegetable seed market and 20 % of the world market. 4
Again, we asked Mr. Mitchell for clarification on the monopoly issue, this time in writing. “What percentage of the world’s marketable seeds is owned by Monsanto (not counting seeds saved by farmers from their own crops)?”
He responded, “Monsanto’s share of the total worldwide seed market is very small. Of the global seed market, it is estimated that greater than 80 percent is ‘open source’ farmer saved seed. So, the commercial seed market is less than 20 percent and Monsanto’s is a fraction of that 20 percent.”
That “fraction” equals 23% of the global proprietary seed market. In 2007, their sales totaled $4,964 million dollars.5
Monsanto is wildly criticized for the fact that farmers are not allowed to save seeds for the next crop. Farmers who purchase GMO seeds enter a contract, fully aware that they will have to buy new seed next season. Yet critics abound, saying this goes against nature, that farmers have always saved seed.
Brad Mitchell reminds us that this is not always true. “You can’t save hybrids. I’m a little perplexed, frankly, by this whole thing about not being able to save seeds, because it’s nothing new. Beyond that, I guess I look out in the marketplace and I’m a home gardener and I have friends who are organic farmers. I’ve yet to hear one of them who can’t get the heirloom seeds they want. I look at catalogs like Johnny Seeds and it doesn’t look to me like all those seed varieties are going away. In fact it seems like Johnny Seeds is growing every year. So I don’t see the evidence of us losing these open source varieties of seed.”
Mr. Mitchell tells us farmers would never save and plant hybrid seeds for a second season as they don’t do well for second generation planting—the farmer doesn’t know what he’s getting.
Hybrid seed is not new to India. The traditional relationship between the famer and his seeds has already been disrupted by the “Green Revolution” and the acceptance of hybrid seeds.
The abundance first realized through petroleum-based fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides has taken its toll on the land itself. “The foundation of all agricultural production is quality soil,” says K. Rashid Nuri, of Truly Living Well Natural Urban Farms. “Conventional agriculture uses soil as simply a receptacle for the roots, and then attempts to add chemical nutrients that plant and soil scientists feel are necessary. These chemicals actually degrade and pollute the environment and do not provide or create life-giving food.”
Lessons we have learned over thousands of years of agriculture are being ignored. Short term gains are realized at the expense of long-term results. It is only through honoring the land itself that we will reap benefits in the long run.
“Farmers who understand agricultural practices holistically,” says Nuri, “realize that all life begins and ends in the soil. Thus, the proper agricultural focus is on building quality soil through application and incorporation of copious amounts of compost and other organic materials. This material feeds the soil and the life found in it. Plants grown in healthy soil that is full of earthworms, fungi and other micro-flora and fauna create an environment that produces healthy, disease resistant plants full of vital nutrients requisite to human health.”
Isn’t it high time we support traditional farming?
Monsanto Company Profile Part IV (Finale)
Also, be sure to check out Report: Monsanto Corn Causes Organ Damage in Mammals atTwilightEarth.com
Roundup is a broad-spectrum herbicide, a weed and grass killer, upon which Monsanto built its empire. Monsanto developed Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, and held the patent until 2000.
As we have come to expect with Monsanto’s products and practices, Roundup is not without controversy, not only for its detrimental effects on the environment, but also due to corporate deception and lies. In 1996, Monsanto was sued by the Attorney
General of the State of New York Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau, Environmental Protection Bureau for consumer fraud “in broadcast and print media, including television, radio, magazines, brochures, and at point-of-purchase displays.” Among the cited examples of Monsanto’s lies are the following:
“Remember that environmentally friendly Roundup herbicide is biodegradable. It won’t build up in the soil so you can use Roundup with confidence along customers’ driveways, sidewalks and fences …”
“Glyphosate is less toxic to rats than table salt following acute oral ingestion.”
“You can feel good about using herbicides by Monsanto. They carry a toxicity category rating of ‘practically non-toxic’ as it pertains to mammals, birds and fish.”
Monsanto, while refusing to admit that it violated any laws or that it agreed with the findings of the Attorney General, did agree to the Assurance of Discontinuance and to refrain from any publicity that expresses or implies Roundup to be safe, non-toxic, harmless, free from risk, biodegradable, non-leaching, good for the environment, or/and is safer or less toxic than other herbicides. Monsanto also agreed to pay a $50,000.00 fine. 1
This slap on the wrist did not cause
Monsanto to stop making false claims overseas. In 2007, France fined Monsanto for false advertising, for claiming Roundup to be biodegradable and that it leaves the soil clean after use. 2
Roundup is certainly toxic to humans and animals. It can be absorbed by plants that grow in soil sprayed by the herbicide. Studies have shown endocrine disruption and effects on human placental cells. Roundup leaches into groundwater and has a half life of up to 3 months in water.3
Europeans and GMOs
For the most part, Americans have blithely accepted GM crops, assuming the USDA and the FDA would never allow dangerous foods to be grown and sold for human or animal consumption. Europeans are not so trusting. We asked Brad Mitchell, Director of Public Affairs for Monsanto, why he believes Europeans to be so resistant to GM crops.
“I don’t have any magic answers,” he said. “I have my own beliefs, and it’s not necessarily Monsanto’s. I think a lot of it has to do with mad cow disease, BSE, and the fact that at the time that we moved in with a lot of technology and tried to introduce it into Europe that we weren’t necessarily sensitive to that fact that a lot of citizens at that point had lost faith in the regulatory system, had
sort of lost faith in the ability of the government to protect them. All of the sudden you have this new scary thing. I think some activists moved in who opposed GMOs and sort of filled that vacuum. And I think it was just a ripe environment. I think it was the wrong time and the wrong approach. Again, that’s my personal belief and not Monsanto’s.”
GMO Compass’s website is dedicated to providing information about GMOs to the European people. This pro GMO organization gives clear information about many of the issues surrounding GMOs and how they are tested and approved in Europe.
The European Food Safety Authority or EFSA, established in 2002, serves as the “central authority for the evaluation of food and feed safety in the EU.” The GMO Panel is an expert committee of independent scientists from a range of disciplines who are charged with the task of authorizing or rejecting a GMO food based on scientific evidence.
The first safety issue with GM foods centers around the effects of introducing a new gene into a plant’s DNA, which generally results in the formation of a new protein. If this protein is new to humans, it could have effects on our health. The first concern is an allergic response.
“The safety of a particular protein regarding toxicity is assessed using animal feeding tests. For food additives or herbicide residues, these kinds of tests are routine. When results from animal trials are applied to humans, considerable extra safety measures must be taken.
“Safety evaluations must include tests to find out if the new protein could trigger allergies. Several criteria are known that suggest allergenic potential. If one or more of these criteria are met, the GM plant expressing this protein is unlikely to receive clearance in the EU.”
The second safety issue is whether unforeseen changes have resulted in the plant’s metabolism as a result of the gene transfer.
Two tests measure these changes. The first is a chemical analysis that measures nutritional value, vitamin content, and toxin levels. This test would indicate that the food is substantially equivalent if these measurements do not differ from those of the same plant’s conventional counterpart. If the results differ, further testing is indicated.
The second test is a feeding test. “In these tests, the whole food is fed to animals such as rats or chickens over an extended period of time. It is anticipated that any dangerous ‘side effects’ of the GM food would be made noticeable by changes affecting, for
instance, the animal’s immune system or its internal organs.”
This sounds good until reading on.
“Toxicological assessments on test animals are not explicitly required for the approval of a new food in the EU or the US. Independent experts have decided that in some cases, chemical analyses of the food’s makeup are enough to indicate that the newGMO is substantially equivalent to its traditional counterpart. Feeding tests are only requested in cases of doubt.
“Nonetheless, the results of animal tests are routinely presented to the European safety assessment authorities. In recent years, biotech companies have tested theirtransgenic products (maize, soy, tomato) before introducing them to the market on several different animals over the course of up to 90 days. Negative effects have not yet been observed.”
90 days? 90 DAYS!!!
Oh, wait! There’s more!
“GMO critics claim that feeding studies with authorized GMOs have revealed negative health effects. Such claims have not been based on peer-reviewed, scientifically accepted evaluations. If reliable, scientific studies were to indicate any type of health risk, the respective GMO would not receive authorisation. 4
So, once again, we have a situation where the tests that are approved are conducted by the companies themselves. And all the other tests that say there are problems with GMOs are not scientifically accepted evaluations. And the longest period required for the scientifically approved tests is 90 days. 4
Where are the long term studies? Where are the human studies? Where are the generational studies?
Monsanto’s Brad Mitchell said, “If you look at EFSA, The European Food Safety Authority, they basically said what FDA has and South American authorities. So the opposition to GM foods and AG [agriculture] technology in general in Europe seems to be more based on philosophy and personal feelings versus science. I wouldn’t say that they are any less valid, but we don’t have a conflict in regulatory bodies between the U.S. and Europe. It’s a conflict in social acceptance.”
If Brad Mitchell is right in his first assumption, that Europeans don’t trust regulatory agencies partially due to Mad Cow Disease, perhaps they’ve heard the story told by Monsanto whistleblower, Kirk Azevedo.
Kirk was approached by Monsanto and offered a job back in 1996. Kirk had been
raised on a farm, and had worked with a competitor testing pesticides and herbicides. Kirk was fascinated by Monsanto’s GMO crops and looked forward to being a part of Monsanto as the company forged ahead to make the world a better place.
As a young scientist, Kirk was also interested in Mad Cow Disease and its cause, improperly folded proteins called prions. He had learned about how these strange proteins cause healthy proteins to become misfolded, which over time cause holes in the brains of the cows. Prions survive cooking. In cows, the disease may incubate undetected for 2 to 8 years; in humans, it is thought to incubate up to 30 years.
At Monsanto, Kirk worked with two varieties of GM cotton; one of which was Roundup Ready® cotton. A Monsanto scientist told Kirk the plant contained several unknown proteins. While the scientist was unconcerned about these new proteins, Kirk became very concerned.
He had learned normal testing protocols in his previous job working with herbicides and pesticides. Plants from test fields were always destroyed. They were never allowed to enter the food chain. This was a basic safety precaution. But at Monsanto, creating new DNA with rogue proteins that could be toxic or allergenic or could even lead to another prion-type disease, they were skirting normal safety protocols and feeding their test plants to cows—cows that were part of our food chain.
Kirk explained his concern to the PhD in charge of the test plot. The supervisor refused to destroy the plants. He even told Kirk Monsanto was doing it that way everywhere. So Kirk shared his concerns with co-workers to no avail before going outside the company to the California Agricultural commissioners. He spoke to more commissioners and to people at the University of California, but got nowhere; blank stares told him the technology was beyond their comprehension. They did not understand the threat. Kirk, of course, was ostracized. Any action that did not lead to commercialization of the product was an unwanted intrusion. He left the company and entered chiropractic school.
He continued to research prion disease and its possible relationship to GM crops. He remained concerned that cows and the people who ate them were used as test subjects, and we still don’t know the result of that experiment.
The safety concerns over GM or GMO crops will never be addressed unless or until we stop the revolving door governance between big business in general and Monsanto in particular.
Too often, executives who work for Monsanto or have close ties to Monsanto are later placed in positions of power within the government regulatory agencies, and often go right back to working at Monsanto. Brad Mitchell downplays this using his own experience as a measure. “Well, you know I came from working for the state ethics commission in my previous job. And you know when I came back, I work for Monsanto. If I went back to the state department, I would not be able to make decisions for a year related to Monsanto…Is a year enough? I don’t know. And there are other provisions. Are they enough? Those rules are constantly being reviewed, but as a regulator I never made a single decision where there weren’t at least four other people who had some say over that or some responsibility over me.”
These restrictive measures were certainly not in place in the FDA for Margaret Miller. Miller, while working for Monsanto, put together a report for the FDA which was used to determine whether or not Monsanto’s bovine growth hormones were safe. When she went to work for the FDA, her first task was to determine whether or not to approve the Monsanto report, the very one she herself had submitted. The instances of revolving door appointments and employments are too numerous to list. Simply google revolving door and Monsanto to view them all. 5
The reality is we have no idea what the long term effects of eating GM foods will be for humans. But what do we know?
Rat studies have shown liver changes, stomach lesions, and third generation reproductive failure.
Farmers who fed their pigs Bt corn report severe reproductive failures and bizarre events such as pigs giving “birth” to bags of water with no fetuses.
The only human feeding study proved
the modified genes jumped into human gut bacteria and combined DNA.5
If Monsanto is so proud of their GMO foods, why do they resist labels that inform the consumer of what they are eating? On his blog, Brad Mitchell says, “Opposition to GM labeling is not based on anyone wanting to hide this information. Its <sic>just that given our system only requires labeling for information that people need to know about, a significant concern with mandatory GM labeling is that people will assume there is something risky with GMs. To date, every GM crop approved in the US has been determined by the government to be equivalent to its non-GM equivalent. I know some people disagree with this, but this is the determination in the US and most other governments.”
He told us, “Monsanto did not sue a dairy farmer because he labeled his milk, Monsanto sued because of ‘how’ he labeled his milk. What we were trying to prevent was misleading labeling of milk as being rBST free. And many of the milk companies out there who were labeling it where doing so in a way that was in violation of FDA guidelines and made it basically sound like our product wasn’t safe, and the scientific consensus, at
least in this country, was that it is.”
And Brad reminds us that we can be sure we are eating GMO free foods by choosing organic foods. And yet, can we be sure our organic foods have not become contaminated?
Aside from not knowing the specific health risks of Bt foods, we are standing on the brink of a greater disaster—contamination of the world’s food supply. GMOs are not contained. The seeds are blown into neighboring tracts of land and carried great distances by birds.
“I can kind of understand why someone who wants pure food wouldn’t want GM, genetic material in his corn,” says Brad Mitchell. “Realistically, he’s not going to be able to tell the difference. It’s not going to taste any different. It’s not going to be substantially different at all and you’re going to need some very sophisticated machinery/equipment to even tell if there has been any movement of genetic material. And in fact there has been genetic material of hybrids and everything moving around between corn for as long as there have been different varieties of corn. So I guess I would ask what the real significance is versus what the philosophical concern is… To date, in my mind, and most of the regulators in the world, the risks have not been demonstrated. Now if we demonstrate real risks, you know, I’ll switch, and say we shouldn’t be doing this. But I haven’t seen them.”
We see reports that regulators are not seeing the risk because they are looking the other way, because they are bribed, because their jobs are threatened, and because no long term studies are required. Again, the greatest threat is the fact that we’ve opened Pandora’s Box. How will we have a choice, how will we “pull the plug” on this great experiment if we confirm the worst, that genetic engineering of plant and animal DNA in our food chain is disastrous to our health and to our food supply?
What we know for certain is that we are dealing with a company that has a history of corruption—lies, bribes, cover-ups. Monsanto brought us Agent Orange, dioxin, PCBs and DDT. They covered up massive contamination of superfund sites in the U.S. and in other countries. Now they bring us GMOs and ask us to trust them—saying they would never hurt us. This, the same company who covered up the contamination in Anniston, dumping toxic waste into unlined landfills and dumping millions of pounds of dangerous chemicals into creeks and rivers before standing by and witnessing health repercussions of the residents including thousands of children whose problems included cancer, birth defects, and cerebral
palsy. This company stood by for decades doing nothing. They lied on the stand. Their true culpability was revealed through documents they had tried to conceal.
“Will we look back on it and say we made some mistakes with GMs? Possibly. Some people would say probably,” says Brad Mitchell. “Are we going to look back and say, ‘Oh, my God, this was a huge mistake?’ No, I don’t think so.”
Our point exactly, Mr. Mitchell. “I don’t think so” isn’t good enough. Our health, our lives, and the future of our food depend on our actions today.
1 Mindfully.org, Assurance of Discontinuance
2 Terra Daily, Monsanto fined in France for ‘false’ herbicide ads
3 Organic Consumers Association, Multiple Studies Show That Monsanto’s Roundup is Toxic
4 GMO Compass, Evaluating Safety: A Major Undertaking
5 Global Research, Monsanto Whistleblower Says Genetically Engineered Crops May Cause Disease, by Jeffrey M. Smith
6 Healthy Choices BC website
7 Monsanto Website—Blog entry by Brad Mitchell, GMO Labels: Surveys, Petitions, and Political Theater, March 2, 2009