Monsanto Guilty of Chemical Poisoning in France
March 08, 2012
By Dr. Mercola
Most people do not realize that genetically engineered foods were only approved in the U.S. because the FDA hid 40,000 documents indicating their extreme toxicity.
Countries around the globe are making it increasingly clear that they're not going to continue to let Monsanto abuse the health of their people and environment without putting up a fight.
On the heels of being sued by India's National Biodiversity Authority on biopiracy charges, France has found the biotech giant guilty of chemical poisoning in a case involving a French farmer.
Monsanto Chemical Caused Farmer's Neurological Problems
After inhaling Monsanto's Lasso weed killer, which was later banned in France in 2007, grain farmer Paul Francois said he experienced neurological problems including memory loss, headaches and stammering.
A court in Lyon, France ruled in his favor, with the sum of damages to be awarded forthcoming.
Francois is not the first farmer to come forward with health problems linked to pesticide exposure -- not by a long shot. France alone receives about 200 such alerts each year.
However, in the last decade only about 47 of the cases have been recognized as being caused by agricultural chemicals like pesticides, mostly because the farmers are exposed to so many chemicals over the course of their lives, that it is difficult to place blame on one over another.
As Reuters reported:
""It's like lying on a bed of thorns and trying to say which one cut you," said a farmer, who has recovered from prostate cancer and asked not to be named."
France, at least, appears to be taking the issue seriously. As the largest agricultural producer in the European Union, the country plans to cut pesticide use by 50 percent between 2008-2018.
Perhaps they're simply fed up with Monsanto's toxic products and questionable business ethics. A few years ago, a French court again found Monsanto guilty, this time of falsely advertising its Roundup herbicide as "biodegradable," "environmentally friendly" and claiming it "left the soil clean." France has also recently asked the European Commission to suspend Monsanto's authorization to plant genetically modified MON 810 corn, citing "significant risks for the environment" shown in recent scientific studies (Germany has also banned the cultivation of MON 810 corn).
Monsanto Accused in Suit Tied to Agent Orange
The guilty verdict in France's pesticide poisoning case is nothing out of the ordinary for Monsanto, and given the fact that it involves only one farmer is not likely to faze the chemical giant. On the other hand, in the town of Nitro, West Virginia, tens of thousands of people are involved in a class-action lawsuit that alleges the company spread toxic substances, primarily carcinogenic dioxins, all over the city.
For a period spanning 20 years, a Monsanto chemical plant in Nitro produced the herbicide 2,4,5-T, which is a component of Agent Orange, the extremely toxic herbicide used to defoliate jungles during the Vietnam War. The suit claims poisonous residues from the chemical have polluted the area, putting residents' health and the environment at serious risk. It is calling for Monsanto to monitor residents' health and to clean up polluted properties, although recently a court rejected the cleanup request.
According to NPR:
"At issue in this case: whether Monsanto will have to pay millions of dollars to monitor the health of everyone included in the case ... This is not the first time lawyers have sued Monsanto over health effects in Nitro. In the 1980s a lawsuit was brought on behalf of seven former employees ... The cleanup issue is still being appealed. Meanwhile the medical monitoring case is headed to trial after settlement negotiations failed."
Why is the Head of FDA Food Safety Tied to Monsanto?
Michael Taylor, a former vice president of public policy and chief lobbyist at Monsanto, is now the deputy commissioner for foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Taylor, sometimes called "Monsanto Mike," has become the flashpoint for public anger at the FDA over issues that include failure to require labeling of GM (genetically modified) foods, failure to enforce and punish food safety violations by large producers, and ongoing efforts to drive raw milk producers out of business.
In case you're not familiar with him, Taylor is the person who "oversaw the creation of GMO policy," according to Jeffrey Smith, founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology.
"If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto's attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto's vice president and chief lobbyist," Smith said.
This may surprise you at first, but once you realize just how many of Monsanto's employees have shifted into positions of power within the federal government, it suddenly becomes a lot easier to see how this biotech giant managed to rake in a net income of $126 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2012,i despite being the mastermind behind some of the most dangerous products known to man, including Agent Orange, dioxin, aspartame and genetically modified seeds.
Even if you have friends in high places, it never hurts to spend millions of dollars lobbying the U.S. government just to make sure legislation goes in your favor, and Monsanto does just that.
In the first quarter of 2011 alone, Monsanto spent $1.4 million on lobbying the federal government -- a drop from a year earlier, when they spent $2.5 million during the same quarter. If we all had several million to drop solely on lobbying efforts, suffice it to say the world would be a very different place. Unfortunately, it's primarily multinational corporations like Monsanto that have this type of clout, and they use it to increase their power, wealth and control -- not only in the United States, but throughout the entire world.
You Can Fight Back Against Monsanto
The revolving door between Monsanto and the biotech industry as a whole and the agencies in charge of industry legislation makes it very difficult to stop the ongoing madness of chemical pollution and the spread of genetically engineered (GE) crops. That does not mean it's impossible, however. But it does require your active participation.
First and foremost, Monsanto is the world leader in GM seeds, so avoid buying GM foods! Since the industry has so far successfully squelched every attempt at getting genetically engineered foods labeled, avoiding them requires you to be an educated consumer.
- Print out the Non-GMO Shopping Guide and refer to it often. It can help you identify and avoid foods with GMOs. You can also download the free iPhone application that is available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.
- Better yet, always buy USDA 100% Organic products when possible, as these do not permit GM ingredients, or buy whole fresh produce and meat from local farmers. The majority of the GMO's you're exposed to are via processed foods, so by cooking from scratch with whole foods, you can be sure you're not inadvertently consuming something laced with GM ingredients.
- When you do purchase processed food, avoid products containing anything related to corn or soy that are not 100 percent organic, as any foods containing these two non-organic ingredients are virtually guaranteed to contain genetically engineered ingredients, as well as toxic herbicide residues.
- For ongoing updates, follow our Non-GMO's page on Facebook.
We CAN shift the balance by simply voting with our pocketbooks and forks. Europe successfully did this over a decade ago, without any government assistance, and Americans can drive GMO's out of our food supply as well, but it requires educating the public about what GM foods are.
Vote with Your Pocketbook, Every Day
Remember, the food companies on the left of this graphic spent tens of millions of dollars in the last two labeling campaigns—in California and Washington State—to prevent you from knowing what's in your food. You can even the score by switching to the brands on the right; all of whom stood behind the I-522 Right to Know campaign. Voting with your pocketbook, at every meal, matters. It makes a huge difference.
As always, I encourage you to continue educating yourself about genetically engineered foods, and to share what you've learned with family and friends. Remember, unless a food is certified organic, you can assume it contains GMO ingredients if it contains sugar from sugar beet, soy, or corn, or any of their derivatives.
If you buy processed food, opt for products bearing the USDA 100% Organic label, as organics do not permit GMOs. You can also print out and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology. Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. Alternatively, download their free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications. For more in-depth information, I highly recommend reading the following two books, authored by Jeffrey Smith, the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology:
For timely updates, join the Non-GMO Project on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. Please, do your homework. Together, we have the power to stop the chemical technology industry from destroying our food supply, the future of our children, and the earth as a whole. All we need is about five percent of American shoppers to simply stop buying genetically engineered foods, and the food industry would have to reconsider their source of ingredients—regardless of whether the products bear an actual GMO label or not.