GMO SCRAPBOOK: MON(STER)SANTO TO PAY 289.2 MILLION IN LAWSUITAugust 14, 2018
Most regular readers here know I have my concerns about GMOs, and particularly about the most notorious player in that game, I.G. Farbensanto. Indeed, when former I.G. Farben component Bayer bought controlling interest in Mon(ster)santo recently, I thought that we might have the makings of some classic karma coming home to roost, since Bayer was a large component of the notorious I.G. Farben chemicals cartel.
Recently a lawsuit was concluded in California, and Mon(ster)santo was ordered to pay $289,200,000 in a lawsuit brought against it for its glyphosate-ridden herbicide, Round-up, which is a product to be used in conjunction with its herbicide resistance GMO crops (thanks to Mr. G.B. and Mr. G.F. for sharing these articles):
The results of this trial should confirm the warnings that various people have been trying to send for years concerning not only Mon(ster)santo's product, but more importantly, its behavior:
After eight weeks of trial proceedings, the jury found unanimously that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer caused Mr. Johnson to develop NHL, and that Monsanto failed to warn of this severe health hazard. Importantly, the jury also found that Monsanto acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished for its conduct.
Monsanto Co. continues to refuse to warn consumers of the dangers of its multi-billion-dollar product Roundup despite the world’s foremost authority on cancer—the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)—listing glyphosate as a probable carcinogen in 2015.
Lee Johnson is one of more than 4,000 people from across the country to file suit against Monsanto in state and federal courts based on allegations linking Roundup to cancer.
He was represented at trial by Brent Wisner of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei and Goldman, David Dickens of the Miller Firm and Mark Burton of Audet & Partners LLP.
Co-lead trial counsel Brent Wisner said today’s verdict was a result of newly-revealed, confidential company documents.
"We were finally able to show the jury the secret, internal Monsanto documents proving that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and specifically Roundup could cause cancer," Wisner said. "Despite the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to require labeling, we are proud that an independent jury followed the evidence and used its voice to send a message to Monsanto that its years of deception regarding Roundup is over and that they should put consumer safety first over profits."
For years Monsanto has claimed that there is no evidence that Roundup causes cancer, yet a mountain of testimony and documents was admitted during the trial. Johnson’s attorneys proved through testimony from Monsanto’s witnesses that company employees “ghostwrote” scientific articles and paid outside scientists to publish the articles in their name.
Internal documents revealed that a scientific advisor hired by Monsanto told the company that past testing for Roundup was insufficient because glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, was tested in isolation without the other chemical ingredients that make up the Roundup formulation.
"Many of these confidential Monsanto documents were unsealed for the first time,” co-lead counsel David Dickens said. “They show that Monsanto knew that its testing was insufficient and that there was a synergistic effect when glyphosate is combined with surfactants which help the glyphosate penetrate both plant and animal cell walls.”
Mon(ster)santo, as regular readers here know, was recently bought out by the giant German chemicals combine, Bayer (a former component of I.G. Farben, along with B.A.S.F. and other companies), and the decision sent Bayer's stocks tumbling. But there's more, for according to the second article linked above, from Zero Hedge the internal pressures to "fudge the data". But more importantly, there's other cases lurking in the wings:
As the New York Times noted last year, new internal emails, among other things, reveal ethical objections from former employees to "ghost writing" research studies that were pawned off as 'independent' analyses.
The documents underscore the lengths to which the agrochemical company goes to protect its image. Documents show that Henry I. Miller, an academic and a vocal proponent of genetically modified crops, asked Monsanto to draft an article for him that largely mirrored one that appeared under his name on Forbes’s website in 2015. Mr. Miller could not be reached for comment.
A similar issue appeared in academic research. An academic involved in writing research funded by Monsanto, John Acquavella, a former Monsanto employee, appeared to express discomfort with the process, writing in a 2015 email to a Monsanto executive, “I can’t be part of deceptive authorship on a presentation or publication.” He also said of the way the company was trying to present the authorship: “We call that ghost writing and it is unethical.”
The newly disclosed emails also reveal internal discussions which cast some doubt over whether internal scientists actually believed in the company's external messaging that Roundup was, in fact, safe.
“If somebody came to me and said they wanted to test Roundup I know how I would react — with serious concern."
And, here's more:
The documents also show that a debate outside Monsanto about the relative safety of glyphosate and Roundup, which contains other chemicals, was also taking place within the company.
In a 2002 email, a Monsanto executive said, “What I’ve been hearing from you is that this continues to be the case with these studies — Glyphosate is O.K. but the formulated product (and thus the surfactant) does the damage.”
In a 2003 email, a different Monsanto executive tells others, “You cannot say that Roundup is not a carcinogen … we have not done the necessary testing on the formulation to make that statement.”
Sometimes the wheels of justice turn slowly - too slowly - but in this case, I hope they continue to turn, and grind, for both Mon(ster)santo and Bayer have their murky histories (and that's putting it very kindly), and neither has ever really faced justice. The GMO industry has had a sad practice of suing farmers whose fields have contained GMO crops for non-payment of licensing fees, even if those crops were accidentally seeded into their fields by bird droppings and so on. (What exactly is that law? Practicing agriculture without a license? And by the way, how does one determine if a farmer's fields contained corporate seeds, without sending out spies, and tramping through someone's private property?) The damning thing here is the 2003 email of a Mon(ster)santo executive cited in the Zero Hedge quotation admitting that as of 2003, no carcinogenic testing had been done by the company. It's time for some counter-suits by farmers who did not want their fields contaminated by GMOs...
... and as for this decision, I suspect it will be the first of many more, both in the USA and in Europe. I suspect I'm not alone when I say that I hope Mon(ster)santo and Bayer choke on a flood of lawsuits, because no amount of money can bring Mr. Johnson's life back, nor bring back the lives of many others ruined by corporate greed and "science" (Zyklon B, anyone?).
If Mon(ster)santo becomes a millstone around Bayer's neck, a corporate White Elephant it could not sell at a rummage sale, I for one won't shed any tears for either company, because I strongly suspect Mr. Johnson's sad case is not the only one. Mon(ster)santo and Bayer were made for each other...
See you on the flip side...