Monsanto slammed with a $2 billion lawsuit: Another hit in a string of cancer cases

For the third time in a year, Monsanto has been found culpable by a jury for contributing to or causing cancer in long-term users of the product Roundup. Alva and Alberta Pilliod both were diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma after using the product Roundup at their home over the span of 40 years. After a 5-week trial, the jury awarded the couple $1 billion each for damages, to be paid by Bayer, the owner of Monsanto and producer of Roundup.

Roundup is the most popular weedkiller in the world, used widely by gardeners, groundskeepers, and homeowners across America. The key ingredient of Roundup, glyphosphate, is the chemical under question. While Bayer and the EPA continue to insist that glyphosate is not harmful to humans, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has found the chemical is “probably” carcinogenic to humans.

Both sides point to respective scientific studies to back their claims. So how did they reach such different conclusions? A possible explanation for this difference in findings is explained by Hilary Brueck in Business Insider. Brueck examines a paper published in Environmental Sciences Europe which found that the EPA relied mainly on industry-funded “unpublished regulatory studies”, while the IARC looked to “mostly peer-reviewed studies”. Monsanto-led studies found that farmers spraying from large spray rigs in fields have not been negatively affected by chemicals in Roundup. However, others insist that the people really in danger are those that are out spraying with a handheld device repeatedly and over a long period of time, like Alva and Alberta. Bayer continues to maintain that anyone who follows instructions on the label will be completely safe.

This is the third time in the past year that Bayer has lost to carcinogenic allegations. In August 2018, Dewayne Johnson, a groundskeeper, was awarded $78.5 million. In March of this year, Monsanto was ordered to pay $80 million to Edwin Hardeman, who used Roundup on his property for 30 years and also developed cancer.

As this latest cancer case breaks, up to 13,000 more lawsuits accumulate nationwide against Bayer-Monsanto.

Don’t Spray Me! and other local environmental groups continue to warn against the use of toxic pesticide and herbicide spraying. Instead, we promote non-toxic methods such as this safe vinegar mixture shared by DSM’s Jim Hudgings. While not everyone has agreed yet that Roundup and other sprays like it are carcinogenic, it is best to stick with a more natural approach, just to be safe. In fact, a study done in 2016 by an independent group found glyphosate in drinking water and groundwater, that the chemical damaged livers and kidneys in rats, and that pigs exposed to glyphosate exhibited congenital malformations. And although the EPA still won’t support the claim that Roundup is harmful to humans, they have admitted that there are “potential ecological risks for terrestrial and aquatic plants, birds, and mammals.” Never mind that humans are, in fact, terrestrial mammals.

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If you love dogs, don’t put chemicals on lawns!

See the paper by Deborah W. Knapp et al., “Detection of herbicides in the urine of pet dogs following home lawn chemical application,” at Science of The Total Environment, Volumes 456–457, 1 July 2013, Pages 34-41.

No surprise: dogs in contact with lawns pick up lawn chemicals, which increase the risk of bladder cancer. And even more sinisterly, “Dogs may serve as sentinels for human exposure.”

To state the obvious: children are more sensitive to pesticides and herbicides than adults are; and children, like dogs, like to romp in grass.

Monsanto Roundup Attacks Healthy Gut Bacteria, Lawsuit Says

By Lydia Mulvany and Deena Shanker, Bloomberg, February 13, 2019

Monsanto Co. has been sued by thousands of farmers and others who blame their cancers on its massively popular Roundup weedkiller. Now Germany’s Bayer AG, which bought the agriculture giant last year, faces a claim that it deceived home gardeners about Roundup’s impact on their gut bacteria and their health.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City, Missouri, claims that labels on products such as Roundup’s Weed & Grass Killer falsely assured consumers that they target an enzyme not found “in people or pets.”

According to the suit — which names three consumers as plaintiffs seeking unspecified monetary damages and class action status — Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate attacks an enzyme also found in the beneficial intestinal bacteria of humans and some animals.

“Monsanto has misled consumers about glyphosate’s risks for decades,” plaintiffs’ attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said in an email. “Despite the company’s efforts to suppress and skew research on glyphosate, the science is in.”

The Roundup products at issue are distributed by Scotts Miracle-Gro, which is also named as a defendant. Two other suits, in Wisconsin and Washington, D.C., are based on similar arguments but aren’t class actions…

read more at Bloomberg

You have the right to know if you’re drinking Roundup

Email from PennPIRG, 2/25/19. Sign petition to USDA here.

We shouldn’t have to worry about probable carcinogens in the food and drink that we buy.

But we detected glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s pesticide Roundup, in beer and wine. A new report by our sister organization, PennPIRG Education Fund, reveals that 19 out of 20 tested samples — including some organic beer and wine — contained detectable levels of this dangerous chemical.1

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not currently test food and drink for the presence of glyphosate. This is just irresponsible. Tell the USDA to test for glyphosate.

Roundup is dangerously overused. Enough glyphosate is used every year to spray nearly half a pound of this dangerous chemical on every single acre of cultivated land in the world.2

That makes exposure hard to avoid.

Scientists at the World Health Organization have linked glyphosate to cancer.3 It doesn’t belong in the things we eat and drink. But PennPIRG Education Fund detected levels of glyphosate in wine of up to 51 parts per billion.4

While these numbers are below the EPA’s risk tolerances for beverages, at least one previous scientific study found that as little as one part per trillion of glyphosate can stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells and disrupt the endocrine system.5 One part per trillion is an extremely small amount — equivalent to about one drop of glyphosate in a 43-foot-deep pool covering the area of a football field.6

In light of its probable health risks, the use of Roundup should be banned unless and until it is proven safe. But meanwhile, we can at least test for this dangerous chemical in the products that we eat and drink. Add your name today.

The fact that glyphosate was found in certified organic products shows that even best practices to avoid pesticide exposure on crops may not be enough to keep glyphosate out of our food. Because Roundup is used so ubiquitously, traces of glyphosate have been detected everywhere from breakfast cereal to ice cream.7,8

We simply shouldn’t have to worry that the things we eat and drink are exposing us to probable carcinogens. The USDA already tests for other kinds of pesticides in produce. Tell the USDA: Test for glyphosate on food and drink to protect consumers.

Thank you,

Adam Garber
PennPIRG

1. Kara Cook, “Glyphosate Pesticide in Beer and Wine,” U.S. PIRG Education Fund, February 2019.
2. Charles Benbrook, “Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally,” Environmental Sciences Europe, February 2, 2016.
3. “IARC Monograph on Glyphosate,” International Agency for Research on Cancer / World Health Organization, January 3, 2016.
4. Kara Cook, “Glyphosate Pesticide in Beer and Wine,” U.S. PIRG Education Fund, February 2019.
5. S. Thongpraikasong et al., “Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors,” Food and Chemical Toxicology, September 2013.
6. Harriett S. Stubbs, “Parts per Million, Billion, Trillion,” Science Activities, July 30, 2010.
7. “Weed-killing chemical linked to cancer found in some children’s breakfast foods,” CBS News, August 15, 2018.
8. Stephanie Strom, “Traces of Controversial Herbicide Are Found in Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream,” The New York Times, July 25, 2017.

New Study: Multiple dangerous pesticides found in food made and sold by Kroger, Walmart, Costco and Albertsons

Friends of the Earth, February 5, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Testing released today found store and name brand foods produced and sold by the top four U.S. food retailers, Kroger (NYSE:KR), Walmart (NYSE: WMT), Costco (NYSE:COST) and Albertsons — purchased in 15 cities across the country contain residues of toxic pesticides linked to a range of serious health and environmental problems.

The report found that oat cereals, apples, applesauce, spinach and pinto beans at the retailers contained detectable amounts of glyphosate, organophosphates and neonicotinoids. The average level of glyphosate found in cereal samples (360 parts per billion) was more than twice the level set by scientists at Environmental Working Group for lifetime cancer risk for children. The average level of glyphosate found in pinto beans (509 ppb) was more than 4.5 times the benchmark.*

“Toxic pesticides are showing up in what should be some of the healthiest and most affordable foods supermarkets sell,” said Kendra Klein, PhD, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth. “Children, farmworkers and rural communities are routinely exposed to multiple pesticides linked to cancer, learning disabilities and hormone disruption. This is unacceptable. We’re calling on food retailers to get toxic pesticides out of their supply chains and off store shelves and help make organic food available to all Americans.”

Findings of the food testing commissioned by Friends of the Earth are significant because of the ubiquity of toxic pesticides found in many different types of non-organic foods children eat on a daily basis. Findings include:

Glyphosate, a probable human carcinogen according to the World Health Organization’s cancer research agency, was found on 100% of oat cereal samples and 100% of pinto bean samples tested.

Organophosphates, which are so toxic to children’s developing brains that scientists have called for a complete ban, were found in 100% of applesauce samples, 61% of whole apples and 25% of spinach samples, at levels ranging from 0 to 3.31 nmol/g.

Neonicotinoids, which the European Union has banned due to robust science linking the chemicals to bee die-offs and which have been linked to endocrine disruption and autism spectrum disorder, were found in 80% of spinach and 73% of applesauce samples ranging from 0 to 0.14 nmol/g….

read more at Friends of the Earth

A Killing Season

By Boyce Upholt, The New Republic, December 10, 2018. [Short version: Monsanto destroys the environment and non-target plants, making the money while impelling farmers to ruin or murder. A true horror story.]

Monsanto’s new herbicide was supposed to save U.S. farmers from financial ruin. Instead, it upended the agriculture industry, pitting neighbor against neighbor in a struggle for survival.

Mike Wallace sat in his pickup truck on a dusty back road near his farm outside Leachville, Arkansas, typing impatiently into his cell phone. “I’m waiting on you,” he wrote. “You coming?” It was hot for late October. The rows of soybeans, cotton, and corn, which just days ago had spread across much of the region, were largely gone, replaced by dry, flat dirt. The 2016 harvesting season was nearly over. A minute passed, and Wallace typed another message, sounding slightly triumphant. “Looks like you don’t have much to say now.

Wallace, 55, was a prominent figure in the Arkansas Delta farming community. His 5,000-acre farm was large, although the yield on that year’s soybean crop hadn’t been as successful as he had expected. Wallace believed he knew why his crops had failed, and it had nothing to do with the sun or the rain or the decisions he had made about when to put his seeds in the ground. Instead, he blamed a 26-year-old farmhand named Curtis Jones for illegally spraying dicamba, a controversial weed killer, on a neighboring farm. Wallace believed the dicamba had drifted onto his fields and damaged almost half of his soybean crop, costing him hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It wasn’t the first time this had occurred. The previous year, dicamba from another farm had also drifted onto Wallace’s fields, causing the leaves of his soybeans to pucker into ugly cups fringed with white fuzz. He complained to the Arkansas State Plant Board, which oversees such disputes. The agency fined Wallace’s neighbor, but Wallace was never compensated for the lost revenue. …

read more at The New Republic

Getting your goat: Weed control at Kendal-Crosslands Communities

By Michele Berardi, Daily Local News, Sept 3, 2018. Looking forward to cuting down on chemical herbicides in the next growing season!

KENNETT SQUARE — It’s not every day you see a heard of goats at a retirement community, however every day residents and staff at Kendal~Crosslands Communities in Kennett Square, care for the environment.

“We have a section of our 500-acre campus that can easily be overrun with invasive or otherwise problematic species of plants”, says Casey Groff, staff horticulturist and grounds manager. “Instead of resorting to herbicides, machine rental or exhausting manual removal, goats will eat and thrive on many of these weeds. This can be a win/win situation,” says Groff.

Goats are a beneficial land clearing tool. The versatility of goats as a sustainable agricultural asset has been well documented for centuries. Using goats in the role of eco-friendly, all-natural, land-clearing machines is a fairly new concept that is catching on across the nation as an option to herbicides….

read more at Daily Local News

Banishing the Fog: Carol Van Strum

At CELDF

It’s been 35 years since Carol Van Strum first published “A Bitter Fog,” the Christopher Award winning book telling the story of a “harmless” herbicide first sprayed over her family farm in 1975.

Her family members became ill. Farm animals and area wildlife died or gave birth to deformed offspring. Her Lincoln County, Oregon, neighbors had similar experiences, including frequent miscarriages of their own pregnancies.

Efforts to get answers as the casualties mounted were stymied by the timber companies, the herbicide makers, and federal agencies like the U.S. Forest Service, the USDA, and the EPA. Residents discovered they’d been sprayed with variations of Agent Orange – which Congress had ultimately banned for use in Viet Nam because of the health effects. That didn’t halt its use in Oregon, however, and while the government collected data on the effects of the chemicals on animals and humans, residents engaged in a decades-long battle to halt the practice….

read more at CELDF

Tell Gov. Wolf to ban dicamba

Sign the petition: Ban Dicamba Now

Imagine Monsanto’s “perfect” herbicide: It kills everything, except the one soybean plant that farmers want.

The problem is that this herbicide doesn’t stay where it’s sprayed. It drifts — staying up in the air 72 hours later — and damages or destroys every plant it in its path, from trees and wildflowers to neighboring farms. 1

It’s dicamba, which is made by Monsanto and other companies. And thanks to its pairing with this new genetically-modified soybean, its use is skyrocketing.

Arkansas has already banned this pesticide. We can do the same in Pennsylvania and in other states across the country. Add your name to our petition today: T ell Gov. Tom Wolf it’s time to ban dicamba.

Nationwide, hundreds of reports have come in about dicamba drift harming neighbors’ trees and farms. 2 And that’s leading to a showdown in state governments, with pesticide manufacturers arguing against limits, and farmers and citizen advocates arguing for them . 3 That’s why it’s crucial that you tell Gov. Tom Wolf how you feel.

If enough states enact bans on dicamba, and enough people speak up about the need for caution, the EPA might consider doing the right thing nationwide. But we can’t do this without you — add your name to call on Gov. Tom Wolf to ban dicamba in Pennsylvania today.

Why should we be concerned about dicamba use? The EPA’s human health assessment shows that 1- and 2-year-old infants are the group most heavily exposed to dicamba on their food. 4

At the very least, the EPA should exercise caution before allowing toxic pesticides on the market.

Instead, the agency allowed a new version of dicamba to go to market without being tested by independent researchers , and despite its own research that this drifting pesticide would pose a danger to crops and human health when sprayed widely. 5

Nathaniel, it’s simple: When it comes to pesticides, we should exercise caution. We shouldn’t allow the use of potentially toxic pesticides unless and until they are proven safe.

Because dicamba can travel, we have no assurance that it isn’t also spreading to homes, schools and playgrounds.

Monsanto should have known this product could drift. The EPA fast-tracked a new version without completely testing its drift potential. But we have a chance to do the right thing here in Pennsylvania. Add your name today.

Thank you,

Adam Garber
PennPIRG

1. Caitlin Dewey, ” This Miracle Weed Killer Was Supposed to Save Farms. Instead, It’s Devastating Them ,” The Washington Post, August 29, 2017.
2. American Association of Pesticide Control Officials, ” Dicamba ,” September 6, 2018.
3. Daniel Charles, ” A Drifting Weedkiller Puts Prized Trees At Risk ,” KCUR, September 27, 2018
4. Olga Naldenko, ” EPA Chief Backs Another Pesticide Harmful To Kids ,” Environmental Working Group, October 30, 2017.
5. Olga Naldenko, ” EPA Chief Backs Another Pesticide Harmful To Kids ,” Environmental Working Group, October 30, 2017.