Sunday, November 05, 2017

Does Monsanto WANT To Kill You? Probably Not... But They Don't Care If They Do, As Long As They Profit From It


Last week, Valerie Brown and Elizabeth Grossman, writing for In These Times reported on how Monsanto has captured the EPA (and twisted Science) for it's own corporate ends. Their concern is primarily health issues around glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide and the primary ingredient of Monsanto's Roundup. Monsanto, they wrote, has been defending Roundup and glyphosate with research, purported to be "independent," but that was actually research funded by Monsanto itself. When EPA scientists have found Monsanto products unsafe, their finding were "reversed by EPA upper management and advisory boards, apparently under pressure from Monsanto."
Everyone is exposed to glyphosate: Residues of the herbicide are found in both fresh and processed foods, and in drinking water nationwide. More and more research suggests that glyphosate exposure can lead to numerous health issues, ranging from non-Hodgkin lymphoma and kidney damage to disruption of gut bacteria and improper hormone functioning.

The Moms Across America episode fits a pattern that has emerged since 1974, when the EPA first registered glyphosate for use: When questions have been raised about the chemical’s safety, Monsanto has ensured that the answers serve its financial interests, rather than scientific accuracy and transparency. Our two-year investigation found incontrovertible evidence that Monsanto has exerted deep influence over EPA decisions since glyphosate first came on the market-- via Roundup-- more than 40 years ago.

...[T]he EPA has overlooked a growing body of research suggesting glyphosate is dangerous. In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans” based on multiple peer-reviewed studies published since 2001. But the EPA has not changed its classification. Instead, the agency issued a rebuttal in September 2016 that said its scientists “did not agree with IARC”-- and cited that 1983 mouse study as evidence of non-carcinogenicity.

Controversy continues to swirl around EPA management’s cozy relationship with Monsanto. The agency’s Office of Inspector General, an independent oversight body, is currently investigating whether a former deputy director in the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, Jess Rowland, colluded with Monsanto to “kill” a Department of Health and Human Services investigation into glyphosate prompted by the release of the IARC report. On April 28, 2015, Dan Jenkins, a Monsanto regulatory affairs manager, emailed his colleagues that Rowland had told him, “If I can kill this, I should get a medal.”

In the meantime, people across the country are suing Monsanto, alleging that their health problems and the deaths of their loved ones are connected to glyphosate. At least 1,100 such cases are wending their way through state courts, and an additional 240 through federal courts.
Matt Stoller's post blogger career included legislative policy jobs first for Alan Grayson in the House and then for Bernie Sanders in the Senate. More recently he's been a fellow at the Open Markets program researching the history of the relationship between concentrated financial power and the Democratic party in the 20th century. This is right up his alley and he's the first person I turned to talk about how Monsanto uses regulatory capture to further its corporate goals. "This is a problem of power," he told me this morning, "not just safety. All monopolies use political power to sustain their market position, and Monsanto is no different. The company funds a significant amount of ostensible safety research on its own products, so even if you are someone who buys the importance of GMO crops (and I do!), it's impossible to trust the regulators. What is left out of this article is Monsanto's massive merger and acquisition spree to acquire independent seed businesses, and its use of patent law and certain kinds of predatory pricing to undermine competitors and even customers. And now the company is attempting to merge with Bayer, further cementing control of the seed and chemical industry in the hands of a few. Farmers are going to feel the sting in the form of higher seed and chemical prices, and unless this moral lawlessness is stopped, we will all experience the health problems that are sure to ensue when self-policing of predatory monopolies that organize our food system is the norm."

Goal ThermometerBlue America's two most recently endorsed candidates, Iowa's Austin Frerick and Texas' Lillian Salerno, both worked in the Obama Administration and both have come to the conclusion-- "I had a front-row seat on the game being rigged," Salerno told us-- that monopolistic impulses by companies like Monsanto are a real and present danger to Americans. This morning, after he had read the piece by Brown and Grossman, Frerick told us that "Monsanto's word means nothing to me anymore. They will stop at nothing to spin the truth so long as it helps their bottom line regardless of what it does to our health or environment. It all comes back to antitrust enforcement for me. Monopolist like Monsanto have the economic and political resources to undermine and overwhelm anything that challenges it. This article is another great example of just how ruthless they are."

David Gill is running for a seat occupied by one of Monsanto's favorite puppets, Rodney Davis, who they give a $10,000 every cycle (in return for services rendered). When I asked Gill about that this morning, he said, "This is yet another example of the corporate ownership of our government, and it's no surprise to me that my Republican opponent, Rodney Davis, is one of the leading recipients of Monsanto's legalized bribery. Time after time after time, Mr. Davis takes the big bucks from the big corporations, and in exchange he shirks his duty to represent the men and women who struggle to get by here in IL-13. As a physician who has spent 29 years on the front lines, serving to protect and improve the  health of individuals and communities, I find it unconscionable that Mr. Davis sucks up the cash and then stands by quietly as Monsanto acts with reckless disregard for people's health. This is a perfect example of the swamp that voters are fed up with, and I'm eagerly looking forward to sending Mr. Davis home from D.C. in next November's election."

Last cycle, Monsanto spent $423,000 bribing members of Congress. They spent $266,000 on Republicans and $89,500 on corrupt conservative Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, criminal congressmembers like Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE), Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL), Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA), Steny Hoyer (MD), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR) and, of course, Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ). Aside from the Blue Dogs the dozen House members who have made sure Monsanto could continue poisoning the U.S. food supply are:
Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
John Shimkus (R-IL)
Rodney Davis (R-IL)
Frank Lucas (R-OK)
Ann Wagner (R-MO)
Adrian Smith (R-NE)
David Young (R-IA)
David Valadao (R-CA)
Devin Nunes (R-CA)
Mike Conway (R-TX)
Erik Paulsen (R-MN)
So far this cycle they have already-- once again-- made big "contributions" to some of the most notoriously corrupt members of Congress: Paul Ryan, David Young, Ann Wagner, Mike Conway, Rodney Davis, David Valadao, Kevin McCarthy and, sigh, Steny Hoyer.

Back to Brown and Grossman: "The EPA’s regulatory record on glyphosate is compromised by missing, incomplete, hidden, redacted, lost and otherwise faulty information. The EPA relies on data, most of which is unpublished, that is supplied by the manufacturer, interpreted by the industry and not publicly available. Consequently, a decisive and transparent assessment of glyphosate’s toxicity is impossible. The EPA has never wavered from its decision to dismiss and minimize the 1983 mouse study, which appears to be valid. The agency has never attempted to replicate the study in order to clarify its results-- perhaps because it feared that such evidence would demonstrate that glyphosate was indeed a carcinogen. Furthermore, it’s a pattern the agency continues to follow, discounting later studies using similar arguments and research supplied by industry that have not undergone independent analysis... Glyphosate is a clear case of 'regulatory capture' by a corporation acting in its own financial interest while serious questions about public health remain in limbo. The record suggests that in 44 years-- through eight presidential administrations-- EPA management has never attempted to correct the problem. Indeed, the pesticide industry touts its forward-looking, modern technologies as it strives to keep its own research in the closet, and relies on questionable assumptions and outdated methods in regulatory toxicology."

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At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes. Death, no problem. Just as long as they make money from killing you.

But we still have tobacco and coal/nuclear power and guns and ammo and bump stocks...

And health insurance.

At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To corporatists, people are only of value if they have money. Anyone else is disposable.


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