Monsanto Update: More Lies, Devastation, Contamination
Not to beat an old, dead horse, but…Monsanto was in the news again this week, for allegedly lying to residents of Anniston, Alabama about its toxic operations there. As noted in our previous post, a long trail of Monsanto internal documents show the company spent decades covering up its toxic pollution and misleading regulators and residents about the risks.
Folks in Anniston are hardly the only ones devastated by Monsanto’s products. Among some of the others are:
- Sauget, Illinois: For years the town, along with Anniston, was one of two in the nation with facilities that produced Monsanto’s PCBs, a chemical so toxic that production was banned by an act of Congress in the mid-1970s. Lawyers for Sauget residents say the pollution there could be even worse than in Anniston, noting that in Sauget PCBs were not only produced by were disposed by incineration, which can create even more toxic substances. Sauget, which was originally named Monsanto after the company (reputedly the company requested the name change due to the many news reports of drunken fights and prostitution “in the town of Monsanto”), is know for friendliness to dirty industries. Business booster and Mayor Richard A. Sauget Jr. (the third from the Sauget family to hold that post) said proudly in 2006, “This kind of industry has to go someplace…(the town) was basically incorporated to be a sewer.”
- Times Beach, Missouri: Dioxin contamination in the town outside St. Louis was so severe that the government ordered it evacuated in 1982. While Monsanto denies any connection to the contamination, the Times Beach Action Group alleges that lab tests detected large concentrations of Monsanto PCBs in soil samples from the town.
- Vietnam: Monsanto was one of the leading chemical companies involved in producing Agent Orange for use in the Vietnam War. More than 300 villages were contaminated by millions of liters of Agent Orange and other defoliants dumped throughout the country. A 2003 study concluded that “Large numbers of Vietnamese civilians appear to have been directly exposed to herbicidal agents, some of which were sprayed at levels at least an order of magnitude greater than for similar US domestic purposes.” In 1984, when the makers of Agent Orange agreed to settle claims by American vets, the judge ordered Monsanto to pay 45.5% of the total settlement, due to the higher dioxin content in its version of the defoliant.
- Colombia: Monsanto has been the main beneficiary of (and booster for) U.S. drug eradication efforts in Latin America, primarily in Colombia, where tons of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide have been sprayed, at rates more than 25 times higher than permitted for agricultural uses. For years, indigenous leaders and rural communities in Colombia have protested the spraying, which they say is the cause of health problems throughout the spray area. In 2000, a Dutch journalist reported thousands of health complaints, including “burning eyes, dizziness and respiratory problems,” as well as hundreds of thousands of dead animals following the spraying.
- Farmers, food producers and consumers: Monsanto genetics are used in almost 90% of the global GMO crop acreage. Scientists have long warned that genes from GMOs will inevitably contaminate natural and organic crops, and experience has borne that out. A GM Contamination Register documents hundreds of incidents of contamination of natural and organic foods. In 1999, one organic food producer reported a $150,000 loss when its corn chips were recalled due to GMO contamination, and rejection of GMO crops by Asia and Europe has cost American farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost exports.