According to Monsanto’s website this controversial conglomerate is all about the farmers. “Billions of people depend upon what farmers do. And so will billions more. In the next few decades, farmers will have to grow as much food as they have in the past 10,000 years—it is our purpose to help farmers do exactly that. To produce more food… by selling seeds, traits developed through bio-technology and crop protection chemicals.” (2)
Unfortunately, despite their warm and fuzzy vow to farmers, what Monsanto is really doing is nothing more than genetically modifying as much as 94 percent of our crops (3). While Monsanto claims this is a good thing, even progress for the world, countless others, including leading scientists, claim it is like opening Pandora’s Box.
This highly criticized and growingly dangerous practice has landed Monsanto in too many law suits to even count. The latest, alleging the billion-dollar company knowingly sold chemicals that are hazardous to people and the environment (4).
Monsanto Lawsuit Details
Monsanto, the St. Louis, MO biotech behemoth, employs 21,000 people in 66 countries across the planet (5).
While not the biggest company in the world, it is definitely one of the most controversial, one that is even demonized by many. So, when a federal judge finally cleared the way for the city of Spokane, WA to charge ahead with their lawsuit, which claims Monsanto intended to essentially poison people and the environment because they knew the chemicals they manufactured were toxic and would contaminate and poison anything in their path, it was a huge relief for the trial lawyers from Baron and Budd, and Gomez, who filed the lawsuit in late July of 2015 (6).
The city of Spokane is suing Monsanto in an effort to have the company pay for the cleanup of the Spokane River, which is contaminated with deadly polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) the city claims were manufactured by Monsanto before the US government banned them because they were found to be linked to cancer and numerous other serious health conditions (7).
And Spokane is not the only city looking for Monsanto, and two spin-off companies from the 1990s, to take responsibility for their alleged poisonings. San Diego, San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, and Westport, Massachusetts are also seeking damages from Monsanto.
Seattle, another Washington state city, and the sixth major city in the West to file suit against Monsanto, is also looking for cleanup damages from the company, claiming its products are responsible for polluting the Duwamish River. Also scheduled to go to trial, it is on the docket for April 2018 (9).
Monsanto’s Claims Denied
U.S. District Judge Salvador Mendoza actually denied all but one of the eight claims put forward by Monsanto to quash the Spokane lawsuit, which now allows the case to move forward. While the city may be happy about the ruling, not surprisingly, Monsanto official,
Scott Partridge, the vice president of global strategy, calls foul, stating “We disagree with the majority of the court’s opinion, which is in conflict with prior decisions in Washington state and California on these very issues.” (10)
Partridge referenced the cases brought forth by the California municipalities of San Diego, Oakland, and Berkeley that were dismissed by another federal judge in September 2016.
Regardless, the current ruling on the Spokane case stands, which pleases Rick Eichstaedt, the executive director for the Center for Justice and its Spokane Riverkeeper program.
“We’re spending millions of dollars to try to get clean-up on this river while Monsanto has earned millions of dollars in sales of toxic materials … when they knew there was an impact.” (11)
Eichstaedt says the city has already invested heavily in storm-water tanks and other measures designed to essentially limit the runoff of toxins, including PCBs, into the Spokane River.
Monsanto’s 44-year Long PCB Dump
For close to 44 years, Monsanto exclusively manufactured PCBs.
The company enjoyed decades of free reign when it came to the now banned deadly chemicals. Between 1935 and 1979, Monsanto made numerous PCBs used to manufacture coolant fluids for electrical transformers, capacitors, and electric motors.
Even after the undeniable proof that PCBs are one of the most toxic and even deadly chemicals ever made, in classic Monsanto form, it is still trying to defend and even deflect the company’s decades-long contribution by essentially claiming it was forced to make these chemicals that it also claims actually saved lives.
The Monsanto website states, “It [PCB] was a chemical used widely for decades to insulate and cool electrical equipment. Due to their ability to greatly reduce electrical fires, PCBs were integral to establishing electrical wiring across the United States, and likely saved thousands of lives from electrical fires. In fact, PCBs were required to be used by government building codes for years because of their effective fire resistance properties.” (15)
PCBs—The Toxin That Keeps on Giving
While Monsanto may try to paint PCBs as life-saving chemicals, the truth remains that they are anything but. Countless studies link these chemicals to deadly diseases. And even decades later, despite being banned in 1979, PCBs are still found in the blood of pregnant women today (16).
Other research shows that PCBs remain in the blood of countless others and the chemicals can still negatively affect their memory and motor skills. In fact, according to the Montreal-based study, the PCBs found in their blood, even those at levels that are generally considered safe and pose little risk, are actually associated with cognitive deficits in the elder participants.
Lead researcher Maryse Bouchard concludes that, “Aging persons could be at particular risk because of higher cumulative exposure built up across a lifetime, susceptibility due to underlying medical conditions, such as vascular disorders, and diminished cognitive reserve capacity.” (17)
And people are not the only victims of this destructive chemical according to the city of Spokane lawyers who allege PCBs leached into wastewater and storm water systems and contaminated the water and poisoned the fish in the Spokane River.
Not only are high levels of PCBs now a violation of both state and tribal standards of water quality, but the lawsuit claims Monsanto was well aware of the effects these chemicals could have on both people and the environment.
“Publications and internal communications in the 1960s and 1970s demonstrate Monsanto’s awareness that PCBs were widely contaminating the environment around the world,” Mendoza states in his latest court order.
Like in all of the Monsanto-based lawsuits, company officials plan to “vigorously defend the case.”
So, until a verdict is reached in this latest lawsuit, Monsanto will remain the company people love to hate.
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