Rounded Up, But Definitely Not Ready

 

Rounded Up, But Definitely Not Ready

The first verdict came in August 2018 when a San Francisco jury told Monsanto that it had to pay $289 million in damages to a Dewayne Johnson who developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma after years of spraying large quantities of Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the world, on the grounds he was keeping.  (The verdict was reduced to $78 million on appeal, but additional appeals are in the works.)  

In March 27, 2019, another San Francisco jury awarded $80 million to a 70-year old California man who had been using Roundup to spray his 56-acre property for approximately two decades; he also contracted cancer.  On May 13, 2019, a California jury awarded $2 billion to an Alameda County couple who both got non-Hodgkins Lymphoma from using the product.  In October, a scheduled trial in St. Louis, a class action with over 4,000 plaintiffs, was postponed pending a shot at mediation.  

I’d say Monsanto has a problem.  

So, how did they get here?  

Monsanto developed glyphosate in 1970, but quickly realized that it killed everything it came in contact with, not just weeds, but crops, too — really not the best way to market a weedkiller. Still Monsanto continued developing glyphosate because of what the company considered to be glyphosate’s environmental friendliness, i.e., the product broke down into carbon dioxide [there’s way more in the atmosphere than we need, and it leads to climate change], phosphoric acid [made from phosphorous which is good for strong bones and teeth, but take too much in and it has the reverse effect] and ammonia [caustic in its concentrated form and listed as an extremely hazardous substance in the U.S.].  

I’d say Monsanto’s definition of friendly is suspect.

 

First used as an herbicide for rubber trees in Malaysia and then for wheat in the U.K., today Roundup is applied to over 100 crops, accounting for 276 million pounds of product in the environment every year and about 10% of the company’s revenue stream.

Even if you don’t live in a farming community as I do, odds are you’ve heard of RoundUp which, by the early 1980s, was flying off the shelves like it was the answer to world hunger.  Yes, it does allow for a formidable crop with fewer losses to weed infiltration, but there was this thing with the residue left behind in soils that no one was talking about.

 

Glyphosate works by blocking the uptake of proteins a weed needs to grow.  Okay, so far, so good, but Roundup also contains polyethoxylated tallow amine, or POEA, a surfactant, which means it’s a compound that lowers the surface tension between a liquid and whatever it comes in contact so that the liquid can spread more easily across a solid surface, but remember, it’s also a weed killer so when the rains come and the RoundUp heads off to the river, it’s going to kill all the aquatic resources with which it comes into contact.

 

The Roundup products created by Monsanto, the “inert” additions may be toxic to humans and the environment in a way that glyphosate alone is not, causing disruption of the endocrine system as well as fetal developmental impacts, chromosomal damage, and impacts to the liver and kidneys following persistent low-dose exposure from drinking water.  Glyphosate persists in food products for up to two years and —as if the news couldn’t get any worse — destroys the soil microbiota that feeds healthy plants.

Compromised soils could take years to return to their productive nature.     To be considered organic, a farmer has to have used no “prohibited substances” such as pesticides and herbicides for three years, since, in the organic farming world, those products are not natural and are considered to mess with various human systems over time, not just through the ingestion of food but through the air and water as well. 

In addition, no one really understands how a suite of chemicals to which we may be exposed on a daily basis when gathered as one in the human body, will react or retaliate against that body.  Combine Roundup with Roundup Ready seeds (GMOs) and it’s a recipe for a host of diseases caused by the ingestion of nutrient-deficient foods that also kill the good bacteria living in our guts.  BTDubs, good bacteria are the friendly ones that keep you healthy.

According to Beyond Pesticides, “disturbing the microbiota [in the soil] can contribute to a whole host of “21st century diseases,” including diabetes, obesity, food allergies, heart disease, antibiotic-resistant infections, cancer, asthma, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more.  The rise in these same diseases is tightly correlated with the use of the herbicide glyphosate, and glyphosate exposure can result in the inflammation that is at the root of these diseases.”

So what does that mean?  It means Roundup is killing us slowly, and because the cause and effect are spaced pretty far apart, we haven’t even noticed it yet — that is, until now.

Sadly, it’s not just the RoundUp that’s messing with our health.  Today, you would be hard-pressed to find any corn, soybean or cotton grown in the U.S that has not been modified to react more agreeably with Roundup so even if you used all your superpowers to make sure you didn’t ingest the stuff, somehow, you’re still going to get it.  Like the Evil Empire, Monsanto had hoped to take over the Ag world.

In June 2018, the German pharmaceutical behemoth that gave us products such as neonicotinoids and other crowd favorites purchased Monsanto in a $66 billion merger. You may recall from a previous post that neonicotinoids have contributed to the decimation of the bee population.

For decades preceding the merger, Monsanto had done its best to convince farmers, regulators, and the general public that Roundup was safe despite growing evidence to the contrary which is probably one of the reasons it landed the number 16 spot on the list of America’s most-hated companies. And also why Bayer decided to ditch Monsanto’s name, one that had been around for over a hundred years.  

No hard feelings guys. Business is business.

“The 290-odd studies, reports, memos and letters that USEPA used to register glyphosate were generated or submitted by Monsanto. These reports were neither published nor peer-reviewed. Many of these documents are still not available for review by the public or scientists as the company claims these are trade secrets.” 

Over and over, Monsanto used a tried and true game plan.  The tobacco companies used it.  The pharmaceutical companies used it. The oil companies used it (check it:  Exxon is being sued for duping the public about how its product contributed to climate change).  And as it turns out, Monsanto’s been using it all along by supporting the company hacks who skewered the science in Monsanto’s favor and harassing the scientists who truthfully analyzed the data.  

What is the game plan, you ask?  

Inject doubt.  

Promote outrage. 

Obfuscate the truth.

Throw enough crap against the wall and it’s not only spaghetti that sticks. 

Monsanto has always been the biggest bully on the playground, selling seeds that had a one-time use, assuring the farmers would be back the next year to buy seeds again, and suing the farmers who had not purchased their seeds, but had experienced the errant corn stalk or soybean plant growing on their property after the wind blew a few seeds their way.  Monsanto credo was exactly the opposite when it came to the sustainability of planting heirloom seeds, carefully harvested from last year’s crop.  How could Monsanto control the entire market with their GMO seeds, a Frankenstein whose offspring could not reproduce, if the farmers had control of their own seeds?  As such, they forced farmers to buy Monsanto’s seeds year after year, decade after decade at great cost to them.  

I’d say Monsanto’s merger with Bayer was a match made in heaven.

The good news is that even though a USGS study found the majority of waterways in 38 states do contain Roundup, there was not much in the groundwater, likely because Roundup attaches itself so heartily to soils.  So how does it get in the water, you ask?  Well, during heavy rainfalls, soil runoff, a/k/a erosion takes not just the soil, but the glyphosate bound to it off to the river where it eventually joins the sediment on the bottom of the river.  Glyphosate has a 70-day half life, but it is extremely toxic to aquatic plants, fish and invertebrates.

Back to groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson who has a much shorter lifespan thanks to Monsanto.  At trial, the prosecution presented evidence that Monsanto heard the warning bells as early as the 90’s, but rather than pull the product and take time to reformulate it into something safer, Monsanto doubled-down and rewrote the story in such a way as to inject doubt into the narrative, despite all evidence to the contrary, demonstrating that Monsanto knew of the danger.

But it’s not just Dewayne Johnson, or the couple in Almeda County or the man in San Francisco, or the 4,000 plaintiffs, it’s also you and your children and their children and our waterways and the very food we eat, food that goes to the heart of how our bodies can live and breathe and move in the world.  It’s all of us being held hostage by corporations and a world of nutrition that looks nothing like the food our grandparents ate, food that has been so modified it may not even be food anymore. 

Instead of profits over people, how about let’s go with the three P’s of people, planet, and profit.  Everyone wants to make money, but you can’t eat it, right?  Time to tell Monsanto and Bayer to get their chemical residue out of our food and water so we can all enjoy a healthy meal.  

It’s literally the only way that we are going to survive, and thrive, throughout the 21st century and beyond.

pam lazos 11.3.19

About Pam Lazos

writer, blogger, environmentally hopeful
This entry was posted in agriculture, air, biocides, ecosystems, endocrine disruptor, environment, environmental conservation, environmental effects, food, Glyphosate, herbicides, organic farming, pesticides, Sustainability, Uncategorized, water, water purification and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Rounded Up, But Definitely Not Ready

  1. Roundup is used like crazy in my neighborhood. Sold all over the place. We’ve had two outdoor neighborhood cats get sick and die and a cat that I’ve been trying to help now has a thyroid disorder. I really feel it’s from all the poisons. It’s awful.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. MariHoward says:

    This wretched product (Roundup) is still stocked in our local garden centre, even though there was at one time recently a decision to ban it – this government goes back on all its decisions unless they are going to make them money and promote “Brexit”. It is, like voting against Brexit, and dealing with climate change, the future of our kids and grandchildren we need to think about. Somehow when I see how people ignore these things I think, So you love your grandkids? Show them! Here many of us a fearful of Brexit because there will be far more connection with your country, and Trump thinking about ‘deals’. So we are friendly towards individuals but fear a closer bond with the USA. Europe, by contrast, is much much more aware of the harm from chemicals, in farming and food, and of climate change.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pam Lazos says:

      I agree, Mari. The problems are many and making money always seems to be at the root of everything. I hope they figure Brexit out. I have no idea of all the trials and tribulations a unified Europe caused, but I do feel that united we stand, divided we fall and all. I wish they — that is, leaders everywhere — would just stop all the yelling and take a hard look at what’s good for the people and then work tougher to bring that about. Love the neighbor as thyself, eh?😘

      Like

  3. badrihippo says:

    I like the analysis! It’s heartening to know that Monsanto is starting to pay for its crimes, although it does seem like “too little, too late”. And it is still the company that’s paying; what would actually be fair is to hold accountable those humans which caused these crimes to be committed in the first place.

    Another thought that struck me is, this is probably one danger of GMO crops that isn’t discussed much. The crops may be genetically modified to withstand a pesticide, while the weeds aren’t, but what about the millions of other creatures that will die as collateral? This will just encourage people to go full-on with the spray since “it won’t harm the crops anyway”. If you want to act like that, then you should genetically modify every single organism other than the weeds, including ourselves.

    And lest someone like Monsanto picks that up as a genuinely practicable idea, let me point out that it’s much better to just find some other solutions for handling weeds!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pam Lazos says:

      Yes, a less toxic solution would be better. It took thousands of years for humans to evolve and our biology is complex. If we’re going to start modifying things we should first try and figure out what it’s going to do to the human body.

      Like

  4. Catwoods says:

    Excellent article, Pam! It’s important that we all stay as aware as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Susan Scott says:

    A few weeks ago the garden service was here. I went down ask them what they still had to do. The one man said he was going to be spraying the weeds on the concrete driveway – what with I asked? Roundup he said … no said I, not. I’ve seen it on the shelves of an agri shop – I was shocked.
    But I’m a little confused: In one para you imply that Bayer ditched Monsanto yet further on they’re big pals ..?
    Thanks Pam for all this well researched info – we each have to resist – and check labels 0on EVERYTHING. Palm oil is just one one of the no no’s ..
    I hope like hell that Monsanto has its pants sued from here to eternity and that it ceases to exist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pam Lazos says:

      Good for you, Susan!
      Bayer purchased Monsanto for $66billion bit they changed the name on their products because they didn’t want the negative connotations associated with the Monsanto name. 🤓 So even Bayer recognizes a bad PR story when it sees one.

      Like

  6. cath says:

    A powerful summing up of the facts, Pam. It must help to have the arguments out in public view, at least then some of us who might otherwise become ‘forgetful’ will think twice about what we use in our own small gardens too.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Ken Dowell says:

    It’s pretty disheartening that Round Up is still on the market. Go into the outdoor section of any store Ike Home Depot and they have bought up all the shelf space. You need to be a detective to find alternative products.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Mick Canning says:

    I’m not going to mince words, here. Those bastards decided that countless cases of cancer and early death, f*cking up the environment, along with crippling farmers financially in the long term was all justified as long as they made more money. An eternity in hell is too good for them.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. lindasschaub says:

    I’m sorry I ever used Roundup to control weeds that grew in river rock and lava rock around my house … I never used it to the extent these folks did though. Bayer will continue to appeal while more people will die – no one cares. And, Johnson & Johnson may lie all they want about their baby powder … the damage is done, but they’ll do the same thing – argue until they are blue in the face. I must say that my late grandmother and late mom used J&J baby powder their entire lives – no ovarian cancer, but facts are facts. The more chemicals we have on our earth, the more damage we do – but we go merrily on our way, using and abusing where we live.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Monsanto and Trump are made from the same cloth. They are real bad guys.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Deane Bartlett says:

    Great post Pam. Now, what exactly do we do to get Monsanto and other greedy corporate giants to behave properly?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. We humans, in our arrogance as supposedly intelligent and superior beings, thought we had found the weapons for dominating and subverting the laws of Nature.

    Liked by 1 person

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