Featured Articles on GMO issues
Monsanto's history of lies and toxicity
2.MONSANTO: DECADES OF A DARK HISTORY
NOTE: In item 2, Aruna Rodrigues sets Monsanto's toxic legacy in the context of current decion making in India, where the apex GM regulatory committee has just approveed Bt brinjal (eggplant, aubergine).
1.Monsanto Lies, Again (and Again and Again)
Corporate Crime Daily, October 17 2009
Earlier this week, Monsanto was found guilty by France's highest court of false advertising, for claims that Roundup, its toxic weed killer, is biodegradable and leaves "the soil clean."
Environmental and consumer rights campaigners brought the French case in 2001, shortly after Monsanto announced its new ethics "Pledge." The advocates noted that glyphosate, Roundup's main ingredient, is classified in Europe as "dangerous for the environment" and "toxic for aquatic organisms."
Monsanto has a long history of fraudulent statements about the safety of Roundup. In 1996, the New York Attorney General fined the company $50,000 for claims that Roundup was, you guessed it, biodegradable and good for the environment.
Glyphosate has been linked to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and human embryonic cell death. Far from "biodegradable," Monsanto's own studies found residues of glyphosate on food crops up to five months after the chemical was sprayed, and the World Health Organization found "significant residues" of glyphosate after pre-harvest use of the chemical on wheat.
This September, the advocacy group Beyond Pesticides and 32 other groups and individuals called on EPA to withdraw approval of glyphosate, citing the growing evidence of health and environmental risks from the pesticide.
The French and New York false advertising cases are far from unique for Monsanto. The company’s history of using fakery, dirty tricks, bogus public relations campaigns, and outright lies is too lengthy to fully outline here. But a few examples are worth noting:
* Two labs conducting glyphosate safety studies for Monsanto were cited for "routine falsification of data” and other offenses. One lab study claimed it used "specimens from the uteri of male rabbits”¦.”
* An EPA scientist found Monsanto doctored studies and covered-up the dioxin contamination of a wide range of its products. She concluded that the company’s behavior constituted “a long pattern of fraud.”
* In response to the publication of Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking indictment of the pesticide industry, Silent Spring, Monsanto and other chemical companies launched a major p.r. offensive. The industry sponsored public forums with purported “independent” experts speaking on the benefits of pesticides; the company’s propaganda tools included publication of a pamphlet called The Desolate Years, which posited a world of massive food shortages resulting from over regulation of pesticides (the company continues to repeat this lie to this day, in countless ads and public statements suggesting that food shortages will result unless the world unquestionably accepts its genetic food experiments).
* For decades, Monsanto dumped highly toxic PCBs in Anniston Alabama, then spent years covering up the dumping and the attendant health hazards to residents. As the Washington Post reported,
"”¦for nearly 40 years, while producing the now-banned industrial coolants known as PCBs at a local factory, Monsanto Co. routinely discharged toxic waste into a west Anniston creek and dumped millions of pounds of PCBs into oozing open-pit landfills. And thousands of pages of Monsanto documents ”” many emblazoned with warnings such as 'CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy' ”” show that for decades, the corporate giant concealed what it did and what it knew."
Amazingly, following the article, Monsanto lied again: the company told the Post it held no responsibility for its past operations, claiming that the "new" Monsanto was not associated with prior operations of a subsidiary. Monsanto demanded a correction, and the Post did initially publish a "clarification." But after activists who knew that Monsanto was indeed legally liable, the paper printed a correction of its clarification! When confronted about the lie, Monsanto officials lied again, stating they did not recall discussing the issue of liability with the Post.
* In 1999, the New York Times exposed that Monsanto hired public relations giant Burson Marsteller to pay fake protesters who posed as "pro-GMO" food demonstrators outside a Washington, DC FDA meeting.
The Biotech Industry Organization, a Monsanto-supported trade group, similarly was charged with arranging for bringing African and Asian pro-GMO speakers to the 2002 Earth Summit and posing them as poor farmers.
In 2003, EU environmentalists charged Monsanto with arranging another "fake parade" of purported African "farm experts" to a European Parliament meeting.
* A Monsanto-hired public relations firm, the Bivings Group, conducted an email campaign to pressure the science journal Nature to retract a paper showing that GMO corn had contaminated natural corn varieties in Mexico. http://ngin.tripod.com/130602a.htm
The paper's findings of contamination were later confirmed by at least two other studies.
2.MONSANTO: DECADES OF A DARK HISTORY
15 October 09
(This information is based on documented evidence)
Monsanto and our Government
The Bt brinjal safety dossier is the work and analyses of Monsanto with no oversight. This invalidates it. Yet, the Government Regulator feels empowered to brush aside the serious objections to the dossier on safety grounds by four internationally renowned scientists. It approved Bt brinjal for commercial release on the 14th Oct. hurriedly, despite requests by 3 dissenting members including Dr Bhargava to provide due time to read the Expert Committee Report, especially given the flawed data, gaps and omissions and outstanding evidence of environmental and health hazards. The GEAC were in a great hurry; they dismissed these legitimate requests. The question is why? And what is the hurry?
We know that there is a massive conflict of interest within the Regulators, to the point that the line between Regulator and regulated is conspicuously blurred. Thus, Monsanto has a direct line and lobbying ability with our Regulators and is able to bring unprecedented pressure to bear. At a time when we have evidence of graft and corruption of US companies like Dow Chemicals bribing Indian bureaucrats within crop insecticide departments and in other key Ministries, it will be wise to remember that Monsanto has been indicted by US law enforcement agencies many times over in its corporate history. They stand accused of some of the greatest crimes against humanity.
The fact is that the Government of India has entrusted the bio-safety of India, its food security, environment and farming into the hands of Monsanto. This is like handing over the keys of ones house to a known felon and proceeding on a holiday. An investigation is urgent and imperative to probe Monsanto in India and its HOLD over our Government.
THIS IS THE RECORD OF MONSANTO, OF HOW IT SERVES SOCIETY AND MAKES ITS PROFIT
ï‚§ 1969: Produces Lasso herbicide, better known as Agent Orange, which was used as a defoliant by the U.S. Government during the Vietnam War. "[Lasso's] success turns around the struggling Agriculture Division," Monsanto's web page reads.
1976: RoundUp is commercialized, becoming the world's top-selling herbicide.
1976: Monsanto produces Cycle-Safe, the world's first plastic soft-drink bottle. The bottle, suspected of posing a cancer risk, is banned the following year by the Food and Drug Administration.
ï‚§ 1981: G.D. Searle gets FDA approval for NutraSweet (Monsanto completes its acquisition of Searle in 1985, manufacturers of Aspartame).
ï‚§ 1986: Monsanto found guilty of negligently exposing a worker to benzene at its Chocolate Bayou Plant in Texas. It is forced to pay $100 million to the family of Wilbur Jack Skeen, a worker who died of leukaemia after repeated exposures.
1986: At a 1986 congressional hearing, medical specialists denounce a National Cancer Institute study disputing that formaldehyde causes cancer. Monsanto and DuPont scientists helped with the study, whose author provided results to the Formaldehyde Institute industry representatives nearly six months before releasing the study to the EPA, labor unions and the public.
1986: Monsanto spends $50,000 against California's anti-toxics initiative, Proposition 65. The initiative prohibits the discharge of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects into drinking water supplies.
ï‚§ 1987: --Monsanto is one of the companies named in an $180 million settlement for Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange.
ï‚§ 1988: A federal jury finds Monsanto Co.'s subsidiary, G.D. Searle & Co., negligent in testing and marketing of its Copper 7 intrauterine birth control device (IUD). The verdict followed the unsealing of internal documents regarding safety concerns about the IUD, which was used by nearly 10 million women between 1974 and 1986.
ï‚§ 1990: EPA chemists allege fraud in Monsanto's 1979 dioxin study, which found exposure to the chemical doesn't increase cancer risks.
ï‚§ 1990: Monsanto spends more than $405,000 to defeat California's pesticide regulation Proposition 128, known as the "Big Green" initiative. The initiative is aimed at phasing out the use of pesticides, including Monsanto's product alachlor, linked to cancer and global warming.
ï‚§ 1991: Monsanto is fined $1.2 million for trying to conceal discharge of contaminated waste water into the Mystic River in Connecticut.
ï‚§ 1993: The Food and Drug Administration approves controversial Posilac bovine somatropin (BST) which was subsequently banned outside the US
ï‚§ 1995: Monsanto is sued after allegedly supplying radioactive material for a controversial study which involved feeding radioactive iron to 829 pregnant women.
1995: Monsanto ordered to pay $41.1 million to a waste management company in Texas due to concerns over hazardous waste dumping.
ï‚§ 1995: The Safe Shoppers Bible says that Monsanto's Ortho Weed-B-Gon Lawn Weed Killer contains a known carcinogen, 2,4 D. Company officials argue that numerous studies have found no link to cancer.
ï‚§ 1997: The Seattle Times reports that Monsanto sold 6,000 tons of contaminated waste to Idaho fertilizer companies, which contained the carcinogenic heavy metal cadmium, believed to cause cancer, kidney disease, neurological dysfunction and birth defects.
Monsanto said Agent Orange and PCB’s were safe, that Aspartame was safe. Aspartame causes cancers and formaldehyde poisoning listed amongst 92 acknowledged health hazards on FDA files (produced in a court of law) and which is now the subject of a multi-million dollar law suit in the US. Monsanto is now the agri-business giant, (Roundup Ready -RR) and brand leader in GM Crops (Bt and RR -- herbicide tolerant crops). It owns Terminator technology in partnership with the US government, fudges, bribes and falsifies data to show its GMOs are safe.
ï‚§ According to the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, Monsanto bribed at least 140 Indonesian officials or their families to get Bt cotton approved without an environmental impact assessment (EIA). In 2005, Monsanto paid $1.5 million in fines to the US Justice Department for these bribes.
ï‚§ Six Government scientists including Dr. Margaret Haydon told the Canadian Senate Committee of Monsanto’s ‘offer’ of a bribe of between $1-2 million to the scientists from Health Canada if they approved the company’s GM bovine growth hormone (rbGH) (banned in many countries outside the US), without further study and how notes and files critical of scientific data provided by Monsanto were stolen from a locked filing cabinet in her office. One FDA scientist arbitrarily increased the allowable levels of antibiotics in milk 100-fold in order to facilitate the approval of rbGH. She had just arrived at the FDA from Monsanto.
ï‚§ The US Patent and Trademark Office rejected four key Monsanto patents related to GM crops that the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) challenged because the agricultural giant is using them to harass, intimidate, sue - and in some cases bankrupt - American farmers. Monsanto devotes more than $10 million per year to such anti-farmer activities, over alleged improper use of its patented seeds.
ï‚§ The Alabama Court Judgement in February 2002 best describes the sort of business that Monsanto is in. In 1966, court documents in a case concerning Anniston residents in the US showed that Monsanto managers discovered that fish dunked in a local creek turned belly-up within 10 seconds, spurting blood and shedding skin as dropped into boiling water. In 1969, they found fish in another creek with 7,500 times the legal PCB level. But they never told their neighbours and concluded that “there is little object in going to expensive extremes in limiting discharges We can’t afford to lose one dollar of business”. In fact court documents revealed that the company withheld evidence about the safety of their PCBs to the residents of the town that were being poisoned by their factory to keep their profitable dollars. On February 22nd 2002, a court found Monsanto guilty on six counts of NEGLIGENCE, WANTONESS AND SUPRESSION OF THE TRUTH, NUISANCE, TRESPASS AND OUTRAGE. Outrage
according to Alabama law is 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."
ï‚§ Monsanto omitted incriminating data altogether from its 1996 published study on GM soybeans. When the data was recovered later by an investigator, it showed that GM soy contained significantly lower levels of protein and other nutrients and toasted GM soy meal contained nearly twice the amount of a lectin (protein) that may block the body’s ability to assimilate other nutrients. Furthermore, the toasted GM soy contained as much as seven times the amount ot trypsin inhibitor, a major soy allergen. Monsanto named their study: “The composition of glyphosate-tolerant soybean seeds is equivalent to that of conventional soybeans”
ï‚§ Monsanto hides evidence of the toxic effects of its GM products. In Europe it refused to reveal the results of its own secret animal feeding studies, which revealed serious abnormalities to rats fed GM corn, citing CBI (Confidential Business Information) until forced to do so by a German Court. One of its Bt corn products (the only GM crop grown in the EU) was subsequently banned for planting in France and other EU countries based on the appraisal by Seralini of Monsanto’s own dossier.
ï‚§ The India Story of Bt brinjal is virtually identical. It has taken two years for these safety studies to be put in the public domain. The Regulator is complicit in having supported Monsanto in its attempts to keep the studies secret by claiming them as “confidential business information,” until forced to change their stance by the Supreme Court Order. They complied in Aug 08. Its Safety Dossier was appraised by 4 independent and internationally acclaimed scientists (including Seralini). Their appraisals provide evidence of toxicity, badly designed studies, fuzzy data masked by too many controls; no ‘p’ values, a most serious omission; paucity of raw data; no peer review; gaps, major omissions and sample sizes which make sheer mockery of good biosafety testing. In short, the studies are a smokescreen. The study defects are long and would fill a dossier on their own demerits. It is difficult to avoid the serious conclusion of intent to mislead, even cover-up and fraud.
Monsanto is the company that the Government of India has accepted as being on the Board representing the US side in the KIA (India US Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture), which allows Monsanto access to our premier agricultural institutions across India.
The GEAC is on record as wanting to “trust” Monsanto because it would be wrong not to do so without reason, despite Monsanto’s history of corporate criminality. The safety assessment of Bt brinjal was undertaken by Monsanto, with no independent testing or oversight. Legitimate criticism of the dossier by as many as four scientists of impeccable international standing have been rejected by the Regulators and the thoroughly unscientific assessment by the Expert Committee whose members were drawn essentially from the Regulators, and who are manifestly not independent, and some of whom demonstrate a serious conflict of interest, have been astonishingly upheld.
Is India as a nation prepared to allow the Government to mortgage the Nation's future for all time: the contamination of our biodiversity by GM, our food security, right to safe food & health, our farmers & farming environment, because of an inappropriate investment of “trust” by our Government and its Regulator, in Mahyco-Monsanto?