NYC Leaders Move to ban Roundup

(April 22, 2019) NYC leaders have moved to ban Roundup (with glyphosate) in city parks.  Two councilmen are working to stop the city park system from using the carcinogenic weed killer which raises the risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. They’ve introduced legislation that would ban city agencies from spraying glyphosate-based weed killers and other pesticides in parks and other public spaces.

Environmental Health News reports that the NYC council action is the latest in a series that shows a growing concern over pesticide use, particularly the products made by Monsanto. It is another indication of a groundswell of people, homeowners, educators, farmers, business leaders and others who are rejecting Monsanto – and now Bayer – assurances that glyphosate-based pesticides are safe.

Growing Movement to Ban Glyphosate

Cities, school districts, and suppliers across the US are increasingly halting use of Monsanto pesticide products. Residents in Leesburg, Virginia called on the town’s officials last week to stop using glyphosate along area stream banks, and local school children also petitioned for a ban.

Since the World Health Organization declared glyphosate, the main listed active ingredient in Roundup and other Monsanto concoctions, a probable carcinogen, Monsanto has lost every jury verdict over its best-selling poison.  In the last year it has been ordered to pay Roundup non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma victims $289 million (later reduced to $78 million) and $80 million, with a third Roundup trial now in progress in California.

Discovery in the lawsuits against Monsanto has uncovered a trove of internal Monsanto emails in which company executives discuss ghostwriting articles for academics like disgraced corporate apologist Henry I. Miller and others.  The Monsanto Papers have shown how hard the company has worked and how much money it has spent, to spin all studies over Roundup in its favor, regardless of the toxicity and the links to cancer that many studies not sponsored by Monsanto have found.

Trial evidence has also shown Monsanto worked closely with the Environmental Protection Agency to block a toxicity review of glyphosate by a separate government agency. See Monsanto EPA Collusion?

Monsanto Defense

Monsanto has claimed in all of the trials, and in full page propaganda missives published in the New York Times and elsewhere, that hundreds of studies and decades of Roundup use have proven it safe. Monsanto has also been accused by plaintiffs’ attorneys of “geofencing,” specifically targeting San Francisco juries’ zip codes in social media ads and notices, as well as peppering them with pro-glyphosate propaganda in local newspapers.  Court testimony has shown that virtually all of Monsanto’s studies were too short term to be relevant, or were skewed in their design for one reason or another, always erring on the side of exonerating glyphosate and Monsanto. The company also spent millions — trial evidence has shown — trying to marginalize and discredit the WHO after it determined in 20015 that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen.

Many corporations have also been paying attention to the trials and their results.

Retail giant Costco has stopped selling Roundup. A Florida-based golf and landscaping supply store called Harrel’s stopped offering Monsanto’s Roundup on March 1 this year. CEO Jack Harrell, Jr. said the company’s insurance supplier will no longer insure it.  In addition, Pike Nurseries, a large independent company, said it would no longer stock Roundup due to declining sales.

More than 11,000 cancer victims are suing Monsanto, alleging exposure to Roundup and other glyphosate products the company sells caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Longtime Monsanto researcher Carey Gilliam of US Right To Know, reported that Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Tom Claps has warned shareholders to brace for a global settlement of between $2.5 billion and $4.5 billion. “It’s not a matter of ‘if’ Bayer will reach a global Roundup settlement,” Claps told investors in a recent report. “It is a matter of ‘when.”

Monsanto MDL Judge Orders Mediation

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria has ordered Bayer to enter into mediation, to discuss just such a potential settlement of the Roundup litigation. He put the next Monsanto trial in his court on hold to give mediation a chance to work for a settlement.

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FDA Recalls Mesh Products for Women

(April 17, 2019)  The US FDA announced yesterday that it was recalling all remaining surgical mesh products used on women to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP).  The FDA said it determined that Boston Scientific and Coloplast, makers of those plastic mesh products, had failed to demonstrate a reasonable assurance of their safety and effectiveness.  That assurance is the premarket review standard that had applied ever since the agency reclassified POP meshes as class III (high risk) in 2016.

That reclassification meant POP mesh makers were henceforth required to submit and obtain approval through premarket approval (PMA) applications.  PMA is the  FDA’s most stringent device review path for marketing medical devices in the US.

The agency said BSC and Coloplast now have 10 days to submit a plan to withdraw their products from the market.

FDA Announcement of April 16, 2019:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today ordered the manufacturers of all remaining surgical mesh products indicated for the transvaginal repair of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) to stop selling and distributing their products in the U.S. immediately. The order is the latest in a series of escalating safety actions related to protecting the health of the thousands of women each year who undergo surgery transvaginally to repair POP.”

Transvaginal Mesh not FDA Approved

Plastic mesh to treat POP and SUI was never formally approved by the FDA in the usual PMA process.  These meshes were, rather, “cleared” under the auspices of the agency’s 510k program, which allows some devices to reach the market if the agency determines the product in question is substantially equivalent to a product already approved.  In the case of transvaginal mesh (TVM), that comparison has always been shaky at best. Polyurethane or plastic mesh was first used in hernia repair surgery in the mid 1970s, and even then it was shown to cause problems in some people.  The company that made the oil-based plastic product is on record as saying it should never be implanted in the human body, but medical device companies used it anyway, and continue to use it.

FDA Dr. Jeffrey Shuren

Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said, “In order for these mesh devices to stay on the market, we determined that we needed evidence that they worked better than surgery without the use of mesh to repair POP. That evidence was lacking in these premarket applications, and we couldn’t assure women that these devices were safe and effective long term.”

100,000 + TVM Lawsuits

A multi district litigation court was created to handle more than 100,000 transvaginal mesh lawsuits filed over the plastic devices used to treat POP and SUI.  It was the largest ever MDL ever assembled. Jury trials resulted in several large verdicts for plaintiffs, and several thousands of cases were quietly settled for injured women.  Hundreds of TVM lawsuits are still on file, and more trials are ongoing.

FDA Recalls Mesh Products for Women

One lawyer, David Matthews, who won a large jury verdict in a TVM case and later settled several others, said: “The FDA has finally done what the mesh industry would not do on its own. The adverse event reports, which reflect less than 10% of actual injuries to the women implanted with this product, coupled with multiple large jury verdicts based on expert opinions, has shown the risks of these products far outweigh their benefits, if any. This is yet more evidence that the clearance process for these dangerous products is inadequate.  As lawyers who have been represented those injured by these defective products for more than eight years, we thank the FDA for declaring these plastic devices unfit for use.”

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Monsanto loses Third Pesticide Case

(April 15, 2019)  Monsanto lost another pesticide case last week, making it the third time in less than nine months that the company has lost a court trial over its poison products. The first two jury decisions against Monsanto in the last year were in the US, for several million dollars each over Roundup. This third win for plaintiffs came from a French jury over Monsanto’s Lasso weed killer. That jury ruled Monsanto was responsible for poisoning a local farmer. Actual monetary damages in the case are still pending.

This third Monsanto loss stemmed from 2012 when a French court first found Monsanto guilty of poisoning Paul Francois.  The man had filed suit against Monsanto in 2007 after he developed neurological problems from using Monsanto’s Lasso weed killer. In 2012 a jury found Monsanto guilty in the case, but Monsanto refused to pay for damages; so Mr. Francois was forced to keep fighting.

Monsanto Appeal

Though the French man appears to have finally brought the biotech bully from St. Louis, MO to justice, Monsanto is virtually certain to appeal again. The company always appeals any decision against it, always denies responsibility for its crimes against nature and humanity, always blames those who use the company’s poison products when those products turn out to harm the user. Or else Monsanto claims the injury that the jury or court rules was caused by Monsanto was not caused by Monsanto, or that the product-related injury is so rare that it doesn’t merit damages because every product made is potentially hazardous.

Monsanto Lassoes Plaintiff’s Health

Mr. Francois said he began experiencing problems that included blackouts, headaches and a loss of balance and memory after he inhaled fumes from Monsanto’s Lasso weed killer, which is now banned.

Monsanto appealed the 2012 court decision and lost in 2015; so the company appealed again, resulting in this third round loss on April 11, 2019.

“I won, and I’m happy, but at what cost?” Mr. Francois told reporters following the verdict.

Monsanto’s Legal Harassment

Mr. Francois denounced what he called years of “legal harassment” by Monsanto, which can still appeal the ruling by a top French appeals court, the Cour de Cassation.

Mr. Francois called the ruling “a message to the government.”  He urged his government to ban other toxic pesticides that contain glyphosate, which is the main active ingredient listed in Monsanto’s best-selling poison, Roundup.  Though the regulators (like the US EPA) and the courts often see it that way, glyphosate is not the only relevant ingredient, given surfactants and other so-called “inert” ingredients, which, when mixed with glyphosate, increase by as much as 1,000x the potency of the poison.

“History will judge [the government] for not acting,” said Mr. Francois.  He referred to a campaign pledge by President Emmanuel Macron to phase out glyphosate in France, a pledge which the seasoned politico backed down on last year. Monsanto’s control of politicians is legion, and it has undoubtedly grown since the company’s acquisition by the German giant Bayer company last year.  Historically, Bayer is a spinoff sister company of the chemical giant IG Farben, which was convicted of war crimes following WWII, for its execrable practices which included the use of political prisoners for slave labor at its chemical plants. The company also produced Zyklon-B  gas for the extermination chambers at Auschwitz, Belzec, and elsewhere across Eastern Europe.

Injured by Banned Monsanto Product

Mr. Francois said he fell ill in 2004 after accidentally inhaling fumes from a vat full of Lasso, a monochlorobenzene-based weedkiller that was legal in France until 2007, but which had already been banned in 1985 in Canada and in 1992 in Belgium and Britain.

Fr. Francois said Monsanto was aware of Lasso’s dangers long before it was withdrawn from the French market. He sued Monsanto for more than one million euros ($1.13 million) for chronic neurological damage that required long hospital stays.

Monsanto Failed to Warn Farmer

The court in Lyon, southeastern France, rejected Monsanto’s appeal but did not rule on how much Monsanto might have to pay.  A full financial penalty will be determined in a separate ruling.

The court did order Monsanto to pay 50,000 euros immediately for Mr. Francois’s legal fees. It ruled Monsanto should have clearly indicated on Lasso’s labeling and instructions for use “a notice on the specific dangers of using the product in vats and reservoirs”.

“The plaintiff’s assumed technical knowledge does not excuse the lack of information on the product and its harmful effects.”  The court added: “A farmer is not a chemist.”

Following the verdict, a lawyer for Monsanto in France said Monsanto would probably appeal. Parent company Bayer confirmed it was weighing an appeal.

Monsanto said in a statement: “Supposing that Paul Francois was accidently exposed to Lasso, by definition such exposure is rare.”

Monsanto faces Thousands of Lawsuits

Monsanto faces thousands of US lawsuits over glyphosate exposure.  Last month it was ordered by a San Francisco jury to pay some $80 million to a retiree suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Last summer, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay a former school groundskeeper $289 million (later reduced to $78 million) after it found the company responsible for the man’s diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

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Conroe, Texas Priest named in Sex Abuse Lawsuit

(April 6, 2019)  A Conroe, Texas priest was named in a civil lawsuit yesterday in a sex abuse case filed in Houston’s Harris County Courthouse. The plaintiff – referred to as “J.R.” in the petition – is an adult male who now lives in Galveston. Defendants are the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Conroe; and Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston, Houston – which employed Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, who was known as “Fr. Manuel” when he was working for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in Conroe.

Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez first came to the greater pubic’s attention when he was arrested by Conroe police last year for allegedly sexually abusing minors.

J.R. vs. Sacret Heart Catholic Church

The lawsuit petition reads that “Fr. Emanuel and other employees of the Defendants (were) obligated to arrange, render, and coordinate the religious and educational care of the children enrolled in (the school).”

The Defendants had, says the petition, “total responsibility for the protection and prevention of the numerous acts of sexual mental and physical abuse by (clergy) member, Fr. Manuel.”

The Sacred heart Catholic church diocese is charged with having knowledge of Fr. Manuel’s sexual abuse of several students, and then hiding that knowledge from civil authorities and putting him back in circulation, where he was able to abuse other children.

Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez

J.R., the petition alleges, was abused in 2000, eight years after the first incidence of Fr. Manuels’ sexual abuse of minors was first revealed to church officials.

In 1992, a sixth grade boy accused Fr. Manuel of inappropriately touching him. The church then hired an attorney to investigate whether the Church was required to notify Child Protective Services.  Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Fiorenza wrote to an attorney saying a psychological exam would be conducted on Fr. Manuel before he was re-admitted into the seminary. The wayward priest then spent nine months in the Shalom Recovery Center. He was re-admitted to the seminary in the spring of 1993.

In 1999 and 2000, an underage male and female accused Fr. Manuel of sexual abuse. The female victim and her family reported the abuse in 2001 and then moved to Israel. Fr. Manuel then went back to the Shalom Recovery Center for nine more months, from April 2001 to Jan. 2002.

Boy Abused during Confession

J.R., says the petition, was abused by Fr. Manuel during the summer of 2000.  Then 15, the boy had gone to make a confession, as many Catholics regularly do, to a priest in the confessional booth.  Rather than hearing J.R.’s confession and then offering guidance or absolution through an assignment of prayers and penance, Fr. Manuel attempted to engage the boy in a profane conversation about sex with a same-sex partner.

J.R. said that he was confused by the questions and wondered if this was part of a new confessional process.  The 15-year-old did not respond to any of the several questions the priest asked him. Fr. Manuel then opened the partition window between them in the booth and exposed himself to J.R.

J.R. came forward after he saw in the news that Fr. Manuel had been arrested.  Shortly before that arrest, J.R. had confided his abuse at the hands of Fr. Manuel to a therapist.

Statute of Limitations

Sexual abuse cases brought more than two years after the alleged crime can often be successfully defended under statute of limitations laws in Texas.  However, writes J.R’s. lawyer, David Matthews, in the lawsuit petition:

“Defendants are prevented from relying on any statute of limitations defense by virtue of their acts of fraudulent concealment, because of Defendants’ knowledge of the wrongful acts of Fr. Manuel, while allowing him contact with trusting children, their representations that Fr. Manuel was fit for priesthood and supervision of children, their silence on his known sexual abuse, and their fixed purpose to conceal the wrong.“

Texas Priest named in Sex Abuse Lawsuit

The petition demands a jury trial. The case is J.R., Plaintiff v. Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Conroe and Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

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Deadly Crosby Plant Explosion

(April 3, 2019)   Early this morning, 26 different agencies were investigating a deadly explosion that hit Crosby, Texas yesterday.  One man was killed and two more were hospitalized after an explosion around 10:45 a.m. rattled the southeast Texas community. The explosion was apparently sparked by a transfer line that ignited a tank full of a chemical called isobutylene.

James Earl Mangum “Bubba”

The man killed was 27-year-old James Earl Mangum, nicknamed Bubba.  Reports say Mr. Mangum may have been attempting to fix an isobutylene leak in the plant when it exploded.

Isobutylene Danger

Isobutylene is a highly flammable colorless gas that can cause dizziness, drowsiness and unconsciousness. Benzene was also reported to have been burning yesterday.

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office reported that the fire was contained by 4:20 p.m., but officials this morning were still keeping the public away from the plant. Cautionary roadblocks went up in case of another flare up of the type which occurred just two weeks ago in the ship channel explosion and fire in Deer Park.  The two people injured in yesterday’s explosion are reportedly in critical condition.

Charges Filed against KMCO
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a petition last night against KMCO for violations of the Texas Clean Air Act. In addition, Harris County Fire Marshalls Office issued a subpoena to the plant as part of their investigation. The subpoena will preserve documents related to KMCO and to aid investigators in figuring out the cause of the fire.

EPA, TCEQ Weigh in
The Environmental Protection Agency is monitoring air quality. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) also sent emergency response people, along with an air quality van.

TCEQ Executive Director Toby Baker said: “I applaud the attorney general for acting swiftly on my requests to hold KMCO fully responsible.”

KHOU 11 reported that employees and residents in the area were badly shaken up by the explosion. A KMCO employee identified as “Justin” told KHOU 11: “It was terrifying. . . There’s always a danger, but you never expect it to happen.”  Justin said employees made a mad dash for the exits.

History of Violations: $3.5 Million Plus
Federal court records show KMCO was criminally convicted in 2016 for two counts of knowingly violating the Clean Air Act.  The company was fined $3.5 million, including $200,000 in a community service payment to the Southern Environmental Enforcement Network (SEEN).

The company was fined for failing to monitor leaks of ground-level ozone (smog) producing air pollutants at its chemical processing facility in Crosby from 2008 to 2012. KMCO also admitted that it falsified records to secure permits. According to court records, KMCO also operates under the names of Crosby LP and Ramsey Properties. A sister company, KTX LP, was also charged in the case for a different explosion in Port Arthur.

KMCO was also charged with air pollution violations in 1986 in Harris County District Court. It pleaded no contest and paid a $300 fine. Harris County sued KMCO in that case and has also sued it twice more more for pollution crimes. A case filed in 2017 is still pending. KMCO also has been fined nearly $400,000 by state and U.S. regulators.

OSHA has fined KMCO roughly $250,000. The company was cited for 66 violations at its Crosby plant from 2010 to 2013. One of the cases was opened on Dec. 24, 2010, the same day two plant employees were injured. The company was fined more than $65,000 in that case for 15 serious violations, including safety management of highly hazardous chemicals, hazardous waste, emergency response, and control of hazardous energy.

KMCO has also been fined about $140,000 by TCEQ for 11 violations. The highest fine was for $35,370 in 2013 when the company released too much carbon monoxide emissions and didn’t conduct stack tests.

Deadly Crosby Plant Explosion
The KMCO web site says the company “delivers superior specialty chemical manufacturing and toll processing services to many of the world’s largest chemical companies. Our facility has batch and continuous distillation and multiple reaction capabilities producing over 900 million pounds per year of toll manufacturing products.”

KMCO owns plants in Crosby and also in Port Arthur, Texas. The Crosby plant – located at 16503 Ramsey Road off Crosby Dayton Road near Highway 90 – employs more than 180 people full-time. It contains more than 600 tanks (minus one or two after the latest explosion and fire), 28 reactors, 250 rail storage areas.

Chemical Production: Anti Freeze & More
The Crosby plant produces antifreeze; brake fluid; oil field-, glycol-, and cement-grinding products.

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Farmer died fighting Monsanto

At least one Wisconsin farmer died fighting Monsanto.  Mike O’Connell tried blowing the whistle on the biotech bully from Missouri before he died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011. He wrote books of poems as well as letters to his political representatives and to local newspapers blowing the whistle and attempting to stop FDA approval of Monsanto’s insidious bovine growth hormone (rBGH), called Posilac.  He also refused to use Monsanto’s chemically-perverted GMO seeds and its Roundup poison on his own corn crops.

Fencing can’t stop Roundup

Mr. O’Connell may not, however, have mistrusted Monsanto enough. He did use Roundup to kill weeds on his farm property.  It was a choice which may have killed him.  His widow said he was drenched in Roundup on at least one occasion after a spill while mixing it in his barn.  He most certainly inhaled the poison for decades when his farm neighbors routinely sprayed it on their own corn and soy crops. A former college basketball player and restless athlete, he loved to walk for miles at night along the country roads lining his and his neighbors’ properties.

We are All Glyphosate Poisoned Now

Most of the farmers whose property surrounded the O’Connell farm regularly used Roundup on their crops.  The southern part of the state where he farmed for three decades is annually drenched in millions of gallons of Monsanto’s best-selling poison.  Fence lines can’t stop pesticide drift.  Tests show Roundup’s only listed active ingredient – glyphosate – is present in more than 90 percent of Americans. We are all being forcefed glyhosate in one form or another.  Even organic wine has been found to contain glyphosate, though in lower levels than conventionally-produced wine.  Glyphosate has been proven to contaminate our water, popular foods, wine, beer, and our vaccines. Yes, this known carcinogenic is being injected directly into the bloodstreams of babies and small children.

Time will tell just how many of us will die of lymphoma like Mr. O’Connell did, or of some other malady related to Roundup exposure.

Mike O’Connell’s story demonstrates that it probably doesn’t matter whether we liberally spray Roundup ourselves.  Tests have proven that glyophosate accumulates over time in the human body.  The more exposure one has, the more it accumulates. We’re not unlike fish who all swim in the same water.  We all breathe the same air, and like John Kennedy said in trying to stop the arms race, “We are all mortal.”

No Ordinary Farmer

Mike O’Connell was no ordinary farmer – if any fool could ever say there is any such thing as an “ordinary farmer.”  He graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in English, and then earned a Masters Degree in English from the University of Wisconsin.  He was teaching Journalism at a  high school in 1968 when he fell in love with the land in southern Wisconsin.  At age 25, he bought a small farm for $19,000, with a down payment of $3,000. In the next thirty years he would get an education in farming and its nearly complete takeover by corporate interests like Monsanto and its government and university enablers.

He saw how Monsanto gained FDA approval for bovine growth hormone despite the objections of thousands of farmers as well as scientists who showed that it was fraught with peril for both cows and human beings. One team of investigative reporters in Florida were muzzled and then fired — which later led to a whistleblower lawsuit which they won – after they unveiled the ugly truth about Monsanto’s BGH.  ln 1995, Mike O’Connell wrote a poem about the unholy alliance of Monsanto, the FDA and land grant universities like his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin.

One of his poetry collections – My Bucket’s Got a Hole In It – includes several poems calling out Monsanto for its dangerous products and surreptitious dealings with government regulators and educational institutions beholden to the biotech giant by virtue of its multi-million-dollar “contributions.”

Mike O’Connel wrote:

“The deep pockets of the chemical companies allowed them to buy influence for approval of Bovine Growth Hormone injections in State Legislatures and at the Food & Drug Administration. More discouraging was the way they were able to silence any dissent from within Land Grant Universities, institutions founded to preserve, protect, and defend family farms.

BGH had no redeeming social or economic value for farmers, cows, or consumers. But the prospect of a $26 million Biotech Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus was enough to guarantee undivided support from career-conscious faculty and extension agents.”

Dairy Science Christmas

After a decade of buying influence in high places, Monsanto finally gained FDA approval of its synthetic bovine growth hormone product, Posilac, just before the holidays in 1993.  By this time, some of the Monsanto researchers had taken posts inside the FDA, where they could pretend to be objective reviewers of their own company’s data.

God rest ye merry dairymen, let nothing you dismay.
You must accept this biotech, there is no other way.
A shot on Christmas Eve could mean more milk on Christmas Day.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.

Now there will be some suffering, your finest cow may fall,
But you must keep the needle sharp, your back’s against the wall.
Don’t skip a single stanchion and don’t miss a single stall.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.

Before you go to church today, or after you come back,
Give your cows their Christmas gift, the gift of Posilac,
And pray to God that somehow you will get your money back.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.

Tonight there lies a baby in a manger far away.
He might not like to see the things we do to cows today.
But he still has his eyes closed – sssh! – don’t wake him right away.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.

 

Farmer died fighting Monsanto

Mike O’Connell would no doubt be pleased to see that some people harmed by Monsanto have won dramatic jury verdicts — of $289 million and $80 million (though they’re on appeal, of course). Though justice against the biotech bully from St. Louis is coming late, at least Monsanto is being taken to task for its monstrous crimes against us all, against nature.  Mass chemical poisoning of our land, air, and water is not the answer to our food challenges.  One out of every two people will now develop cancer. This madness must end. We can’t both poison our food and eat it, too.  It was nothing but insanity to think that we ever could, the kind of insanity that Monsanto money drives. Nobody knew that lesson better than Mike O’Connell.

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Monsanto loses second Roundup Trial – $80 Million Verdict

(March 28, 2019) A California jury yesterday ordered Monsanto to pay more than $80 million to a man who developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma after using Roundup weedkiller poison.  It was the second of two trials which Monsanto has now lost over its best-known product.

After a day of deliberations, the jury found Monsanto guilty on a failure-to-warn claim, a design-defect claim, and a negligence claim.  They voted unanimously to award plaintiff Edwin Hardeman $200,967 in economic damages, roughly $5 million in future and past economic damages, and $75 million in punitive damages. He had used Roundup for more than two decades.

Monsanto is now 0-2 in Roundup trials.  This second trial was the first in federal court against Monsanto, which also lost the first state court trial over Roundup last summer, in a $289 million verdict later reduced to $78.5 million.

“A jury has spoken twice after hearing evidence from both sides,” said attorney David Matthews, whose law firm is handling Roundup lawsuits against Monsanto.  “They have loudly denounced this pesticide as causing cancer.  We hope Monsanto will finally listen.  Our health is our wealth. It must not be needlessly compromised.”

Controversial Two-part Trial Format

Unlike the first trial, this one featured a controversial two-part format (against the plaintiff’s wishes) in a curious “bifurcation” arrangement.  The first part, dubbed “causation,” ended on May 19 (see: Down goes Monsanto!) when the jury ruled unaimously that Roundup was a substantial factor in causing Mr. Hardeman’s cancer. That ruling sent the trial into a second phase which allowed the plaintiff’s side to offer some (but far from all) evidence of Monsanto’s secret moves to control worldwide media spin over Roundup, hire ghostwriters to promote Roundup while posing as disinterested third parties, and massage and manipulate federal EPA regulators.

In the second phase, the plaintiff’s side was able to show the jury evidence of how Monsanto was aware, since at least 1980, of five epidemiological studies, seven animal studies, three oxidative stress studies, and 14 genotoxicity studies that linked Roundup products to cancer. Lawyers for the plaintiff in closing Monsanto never warned consumers and refused to conduct its own long-term research because the company was afraid of what it would find.

Monsanto Rebuttal

Monsanto’s attorneys argued that glyphosate, Roundup’s only active ingredient listed on the product, is the most studied pesticide in the world and no health organizations or regulatory body had ever found glyphosate could cause cancer, until recently.

To award punitive damages, Monsanto’s attorneys told the jury they would have to believe company employees committed criminal conduct and are lying about Roundup safety.

The jury determined that Monsanto employees committed criminal conduct and were lying about Roundup safety.

Mr. Hardeman’s case is the first to go to trial in federal court in California’s northern district over allegations involving Monsanto’s Roundup and Ranger Pro poisons. Some 700 cases have been consolidated before Judge Vince Chhabria. He said during a hearing earlier this year that he will likely “push the pause button” on federal litigation after the verdict in the next Roundup trial, in order to allow the parties to consider settlement negotiations. The next Roundup trial is scheduled to start in start court in Oakland, Calif. May 20.

Monsanto loses second Roundup Trial 

The case is Hardemanv. Monsanto Co. et al., case number 3:16-mc-80232.  The MDL is In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation case number 3:16-md-02741 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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Houston Law Firm investigating Injuries from Ship Channel Fire

(March 25, 2019)  Matthews & Associates Law Firm in Houston, Texas is investigating injuries caused by a fire in the Houston ship channel that started in Deer Park last week. Oil byproducts from a damaged storage facility run by Intercontinental Terminals Company went up in flames on March 17.  The fire contaminated the Houston Ship Channel, creating a cloud of cancer-causing benzene and other toxic chemicals.  It was one of the Gulf Coast’s worst chemical disasters in more than ten years. The fire burned for three days, then reignited on Saturday, May 23.

In the fire and aftermath, a  cloud of cancer-causing chemicals that includes benzene hung over the ship channel for more than a week.  The ignited chemicals were reportedly used in nail polish remover, paint thinner, and gasoline.  Detections of benzene at the ITC site prompted officials to announce shelter-in-place orders for Deer Park and Galena Park.  The U.S. Coast Guard banned vessel traffic on part of the industrial shipping route.

International Terminals Company at Ground Zero

The incident started with a wall collapse and fire at Intercontinental Terminals Co.’s already-damaged chemical storage complex on Sunday, March 17.  Toxic gasoline ingredients, firefighting foam, and dirty water flowed from the site into the channel, while a benzene plume hung over the water.  The toxic cloud posed a threat not only to ship crews and firefighters, but also to the thousands of people who live in the area.  As the toxic cloud blew toward the city, Houstonians were told to remain indoors for several days to avoid the fallout, but long-term health effects are far from certain.

The disaster began when tanks holding byproducts of the oil-refining process at ITC’s facility erupted in flames.  A mile-high plume of black smoke towered over the area and the city of Houston for days.  Fire crews finally brought the the blaze under control on March 20, but it flared up again on Saturday, March 23.

Benzene alerts shut down Deer Park and other suburbs for half a day, while local news channels warned Houstonians to stay indoors to avoid contaminated air and fallout from the fires.

Nausea, headaches, Other Symptoms

At least a thousand people complained of nausea, headaches and other symptoms.  They sought  treatment at a nearby pop-up clinic.  Fifteen of the most-severe cases were taken by ambulances to nearby hospital emergency rooms.

“It’s been a never-ending, re-occurring case of things not working out as planned,” said Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton during a media briefing on March 23, as the second fire broke out.

Local residents and millions of Houstonians were left wondering what would happen next.  The Deer Park fire and fallout appears to be the worst industrial disaster in the area since 15 people were killed in the 2005 explosion at BP Plc’s Texas City refinery.

Resident:  “The trust is not there.”

“There’s more tanks in there. Is it going to reignite?” Mercy Reyna, 50, asked a Houston Chronicle reporter.  Along with many others who live near ground zero, Ms. Reyna has  been suffering from headaches, eye discomfort, and chest tightness.  “The trust is not there,” she said.  “We feel like we’re not being told the truth of what’s going on.”

Benzene Alert

After the initial blaze was extinguished, ITC made two unsuccessful attempts to drain a charred tank holding pygas, a petroleum derivative composed largely of benzene.  Early on Friday, ITC executives estimated they would have that tank emptied in about 12 hours.  But then the wall failed and flames erupted nearby.

Benzene is a carcinogenic chemical, colorless or light yellow liquid at room temperature.  It has a sweet odor and is highly flammable.  It evaporates into air quickly, but its vapor is heavier than air and may sink into low-lying areas. Hence the warning to all Houstonians.  And after it falls from the air, benzene dissolves only slightly in water; it will float on top of water.

U.S. Chemical Safety Board Investigation

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board announced that it would be investigating the fire.  The Texas National Guard dispatched troops to assist local authorities with air monitoring after the cancer-causing benzene wafted across the area.  Besides prompting take-shelter alerts for some four million Houstonians, several roads were closed to traffic.

The Houston Ship Channel

The Houston ship channel is one of the busiest commercial shipping facilities in North America.  It connects Houston’s manufacturing and oil-refining network to Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Lawsuit over Clean Air Violations

The company said on March 22 that there were about 60,000 barrels (2.52 million gallons) of hazardous chemicals still held in the damaged section of its complex, the next day it no longer knew how much remained.  Meanwhile, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he’ll file a lawsuit accusing ITC of violating clean-air laws.

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Monsanto spends Millions to promote Pesticides, GMO Lies

(March 22, 2019)  Monsanto spends millions of dollars to promote pesticides like Roundup, spread GMO propaganda, and attack organic food choices with paid shills posed as disinterested scientists or honorable academics.  The good news is that more and more of the truth is emerging daily.  Much of that truth has come to light from legal “discovery” which has given us The Monsanto Papers.

11,000 Lawsuits

The truth about Monsanto is being unearthed by lawsuits filed by more than 11,000 people now suing the biotech giant for giving them non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  The lawsuits all allege that exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide (classified by EPA as a pesticide) caused them to develop lymphomas that include chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

The Monsanto Propaganda Money Trail

Discovery in recent Roundup lawsuits has unveiled the propaganda money trail.  It shows just how Monsanto fools some of the people some of the time.  The money trail shows how Monsanto assembles front groups seeded with morally bankrupt scientists.  The money trail shows us how Monsanto runs astroturf organizations with payrolled employees disguised as normal citizens with some talent for the truth.  The Monsanto money trail shows us how the company hires professional bloggers to poison the blogosphere, just like Monsanto poisons the earth – a definite theme emerges here.  Monsanto’s bloggers flat-out lie about organic foods and Monsanto’s own products.  They also use click bait to draw unsuspecting people into “discussions” about pesticide-laced, genetically modified foods being superior to organic food, or foods not genetically perverted and loaded with pesticides.

How else could a company that sells the poisoning of the natural world itself as a virtuous act defend itself without hiding behind ostensibly third-party “scientists” and bloggers?  Monsanto has a long history of lying to the public and being the darling of government “regulators” like the Monsanto-captured EPA and the Monsanto-captured FDA.  In a blatantly illegal act, the latter broke the law in allowing genetically modified foods to be unleashed on us all in the first place.

Center for Food Integrity / Monsanto Partnership

Witness just one blinding glimpse of Monsanto’s duplicity in setting up dummy groups to hoodwink people and then hide behind those groups as honest arbiters of “science.”  Ever heard of the so-called, “Center for Food Integrity”?  Monsanto has. It owns the organization, which poses as an arbiter of good science.

Stacy Malkan reported for US Right To Know in May 2018:

“The Center for Food Integrity (CFI), formerly the Grow America Project, is an industry-funded 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that conducts research, lobbying and public relations campaigns to “earn consumer trust” for food and agrichemical companies, including DowDuPont, Monsanto, Cargill, Costco, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Hershey, Kroger and trade associations for meat, dairy and soybeans.”

In the five-year period from 2012-2016, CFI spent $23,225,098 on various marketing and messaging programs to promote industry messaging to build trust in genetically engineered foods, pesticides, food additives and antibiotics in meat”

The Center for Food Integrity has zero interest in integrity.  For $23 Million, you can get almost any morally-bankrupt person (or maybe just a morally-compromised person who needs to pay his rent) to say just about anything.  (Right, Mr. Miller?)

Monsanto “Industry partner” attacks IARC Cancer Panel

Ms. Malkan wrote:

“This internal Monsanto document identifies the Center for Food Integrity as an “industry partner” in Monsanto’s public relations plan to discredit the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), to protect the reputation of Roundup weedkiller. In March 2015, IARC judged glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, to be probably carcinogenic to humans.

Monsanto recognized that the WHO’s pronouncement of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen could be the beginning of the end for Roundup, and maybe even for the company itself.  And so Monsanto set its attack dogs to work at “The Center for Food Integrity,” and in many other dark fouled corners of the earth where the light doesn’t shine, but where money doesn’t just talk; it screams.

Monsanto money is still screaming in a  California court where a jury of six this week unanimously ruled that Monsanto’s Roundup was a substantial factor in a man’s developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Monsanto’s attempts to geofence the sequestered jury over the “safety” of Roundup didn’t work, thankfully, and the trial has now entered its second phase.

The jury is now being allowed to hear about some of Monsanto’s behind-the-scenes efforts to manipulate public opinion and federal regulators, though the judge in the case — who formerly worked in a law firm which represented Monsanto – continues to keep a tight rein on just how much of Monsanto’s manipulations he is going to allow the plaintiff’s side to share with the jurors.

Meanwhile, all the rest of us can do is pray that the truth will out, that common sense will reign, that more and more people will come to understand the painfully obvious, that nothing good can come of us poisoning our own food and land and water.

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Down goes Monsanto!

 (March 20, 2019 Like the underdog Muhammad Ali shocking the giant George Foreman in 1974, plaintiff Edwin Hardeman knocked biotech monster Monsanto to the canvas yesterday.  In a unanimous decision in a California court room, a jury of six declared that Monsanto’s Roundup caused Mr. Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The trial will now move to a phase two, a “damages” phase, which will somewhat untie Mr. Hardeman’s attorneys’ hands.  In this first phase which the plaintiff won yesterday with the unanimous decision, the plaintiff’s attorneys were allowed only to present evidence proving Roundup can cause cancer, and that it likely caused Mr. Hardeman’s cancer.

Attorneys not allowed to share evidence

Mr. Hardeman’s attorneys were not allowed to show any of Monsanto’s ongoing efforts to –

Monsanto has taken all these actions which the jury was not allowed to hear about in phase one.  (Hence the Foreman analogy; the behemoth Foreman appeared unbeatable, especially as he had youth and raw power on his side, just as Monsanto had the bifurcation power of the court on its side, as well as a judge who had once worked for a law firm which defended Monsanto.)

Some of Monsanto’s Machinations now Fair Game

In phase two of the trial, the plaintiff’s attorneys can now show the jury some of Monsanto’s devious moves behind-the-scenes to manipulate public opinion and ply federal regulators to help hide Roundup’s poison profile.

The key word is some.  Judge Vince Chhabria, who had granted Monsanto attorneys’ requests to handicap the plaintiff’s side by bifurcating the first Monsanto trial in federal court, is also keeping a tight rein on what evidence he will allow even now.

Since Mr. Hardeman was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2012, Chhabria has said that he will not allow evidence against Monsanto that came to light after that time.

Monsanto IARC Evidence Stifled

This ruling means that plaintiffs will not be allowed to show evidence of how Monsanto secretly hired ostensibly “objective” scientists to denounce the World Health Organization after its International Agency for Research on Cancer declared glyphosate in Roundup a probable human carcinogen in 2015.

The Seralini Affair Evidence Stifled

The jury will also not see evidence of how Monsanto used its media monies worldwide to attack French researcher Dr. Geiles Seralini after he performed a two-year rat study which showed how rats fed glyphosate developed hideous tumors.  That study was so threatening to Monsanto that the company quietly enlisted several scientists (who were on the company’s payroll in one way or another) to manufacture outrage about the legitimacy of the rat tumor study.  Monsanto also quietly (but not quietly enough, obviously, for it was all discovered later) had an editor installed at the offending journal, who then pulled the article from publication.  To this day, Monsanto claims that the Seralini study was pulled from publication because it failed a test of scientific legitimacy.  However, what Monsanto’s misinformation minions always fail to say is that there was such legitimate outrage in the honest scientific community over Monsanto’s subterfuge in the Seralini affair that the “pulled” journal article was re-peer reviewed and then re-published in another scientific journal.

There was nothing wrong with the Seralini study in the first place, which is why it was published in the first place and also why it was republished.

There was something wrong with Monsanto, there is something wrong with Roundup, and with Monsanto’s duplicitous and even arguably criminal actions, as there has always been something wrong with Monsanto.  Just as there is something wrong with Agent Orange, and bovine growth hormone, something very wrong with Monsanto’s PCBs and a host of other toxic products which spread misery and death as they raise Monsanto profits.

We pray that the truth will out, and that more people, like the jury in California, will come to see that the vast poisoning of our world by Monsanto does not bode well for any of God’s creatures, who count on the humanity and intelligence of decent men and women everywhere to protect the bounty of the earth.  Religion is on our side and so is the science, as Altered Genes, Twisted Truth, by Steven M. Druker, shows us.

Down goes Monsanto!

George Foreman got religion in his later years, by his own admission.  He dropped the hateful bully routine and began to work at becoming a better human being.  Now, if only Monsanto would do the same, we could all be living in a better place.  Let’s all dare to dream.

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