polychlorinated-biphenyl

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) had been a popular man-made chemical compound in industrial and commercial products up until it became internationally accepted as toxic back in 1979. Decades later high concentrations of PCBs are being found in the carnivores of the ocean. 

I made pretty relevant graphic of this a year ago. For those who need a refresher on biomagnification.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/11/science/11obwhal.html?_r=0

Monsanto Chief is horrible...

and I got to tell him that to his face after his interview on CBS This Morning. Approaching someone like this isn’t really my thing. But being so well behaved all the time doesn’t seem to be helping people. It made me really uncomfortable to do it. But that’s how we change. We must become uncomfortable. We must act out of our comfort zones for things to change. We must call out the people who are doing horrible things when they do them. Hugh Grant must be made to feel uncomfortable for what he allows his company to do in the world. That is why I told him what I did today and why I am sharing it with you.

Before a segment I was doing on the movie Spotlight with Mike Rezendes this morning, I was waiting in the green room watching Hugh Grant (Monsanto CEO not the Actor) worm his way through the strong questions he was getting from the CBS team. His handlers clearly have been working very hard with him to give him every slippery non-answer to every question he was asked. I was beside myself watching this guy who is responsible for so much misery and sickness throughout the world slime his way through his interview I could not hold my tongue. He came through the Green Room door ready to do high fives with his press agent and I simply told him this…

“You are wrong. You are engaged in monopolizing food. You are poisoning people. You are killing small farms. You are killing bees. What you are doing is dead wrong. “

A bead of sweat broke out on his head…”Well, what I think we are doing is good.”

“I am sure you do”

When people get paid the kind of money he gets paid their thinking becomes incredibly clouded and the first thing to go is their morality.

He says Monsanto needs to do a better job with their messaging.

Hugh, it’s not your messaging that makes you and your company horrible. It’s the horrible stuff you guys do that makes you and your company horrible. People don’t walk around making horrible stories up about good companies because they got nothing else better to do with their time. People like you and your company are horrible because… you are horrible.  No matter how much jumping around you do on morning shows (where no one can really nail you down for the horrible stuff you do) you will still always be horrible, and people will always greet you the way I did, when you go around trying to cover up the fact that you are horrible.

Want to know more about the real Monsanto, and Hugh Grant? Watch this…

http://www.theguardian.com/science/video/2015/jun/04/undercurrent-monsanto-roundup-pesticide-herbicide-who-carcinogenic-video

There is a lot more horrible stuff to look at here.

Monsanto’s greatest hit jobs.

In 2003, Monsanto settled a lawsuit for $700 million with 20,000 Anniston, AL residents who claimed that a Monsanto plant contaminated the local rivers, lakes, soil and air with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).  Plaintiffs reported a range of health issues including cancer, birth defects, and neurological disorders.

NYTimes: $700 Million Settlement in Alabama PCB Lawsuit
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/21/business/700-million-settlement-in-alabama-pcb-lawsuit.html

CBS News: Toxic Secret: Alabama Town Never Warned of Contamination
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/toxic-secret-07-11-2002/

In 2012, Monsanto settled a lawsuit with tens of thousands of plaintiffs in West Virginia for $93 million.  Residents of Nitro, WV claimed they had been poisoned by decades of contamination from cancer-causing chemicals used in the manufacturing of Agent Orange produced in a Monsanto plant.  

The Guardian:  Monsanto Settles ‘Agent Orange’ Case with US Victims
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/feb/24/monsanto-agent-orange-west-virginia

In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization, concluded in a study that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s widely used weedkilling product Roundup, was “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

World Health Organization:
http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/MonographVolume112.pdf

Shortly after the IARC’s study was made public, France took steps to limit the sale of Roundup.  France has also banned the cultivation of genetically modified crops.

Reuters: Frances Bolsters Ban on Genetically Modified Crops
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/17/us-france-gmo-idUSKCN0RH1BV20150917#fXGsoHblh5ZgGJm3.97

Newsweek: Frances Bans Sale of Monsanto’s Roundup in Garden Centers After UN Names it Probable Carcinogen
http://www.newsweek.com/france-bans-sale-monsantos-roundup-garden-centers-after-un-names-it-probable-343311

In September 2015, a French appeals court in Lyon upheld a decision that held Monsanto liable for poisoning a French farmer.  The grain farmer, Paul Francois, developed neurological damage after inhaling Monsanto’s weedkilling product Lasso.

Reuters: French Court Confirms Monsanto Liable in Chemical Poisoning Case
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/11/us-france-monsanto-court-idUSKCN0RA1UM20150911#bPqGhYIjCbbUQwBl.97

Le Monde:  Monsanto Condamné pour L'Intoxicite d'un Agriculteur Français
http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2015/09/10/monsanto-condamne-en-appel-pour-la-toxicite-de-son-hebrbicide-lasso_4751628_3244.html

In September 2015, two U.S. farm workers filed suit against Monsanto claiming that exposure to Roundup caused them to develop cancer.

Reuters: US Workers Sue Monsanto Claiming Herbicide Caused Cancer
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/29/us-monsanto-lawsuit-idUSKCN0RT2L220150929#H4LdTbt1hK86CxcU.97

You can find reports of Monsanto products being linked to cancer and other health issues all over the world, for example:

Argentina is the world’s third largest soy-producing country.  According to Mother Jones, nearly 100% of the soy crop is genetically altered, and Monsanto’s Roundup is very widely used.  As the use of pesticides and herbicides in Argentina has increased, cancer clusters have begun to develop around farming communities.  A 2010 study at the University of Buenos Aires also found that injecting glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) into chicken and frog embryos caused the same sort of spinal defects that doctors have found to be increasingly prevalent in communities where farm chemicals are used.  

Mother Jones: Argentina is Using More Pesticides than Ever. And Now It Has Cancer Clusters.
http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/10/argentina-cancer-cluster-pesticide

On Monsanto Suing Small Farmers:

The Guardian: Monsanto Sued Small Farmers to Protect Seed Patents
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/feb/12/monsanto-sues-farmers-seed-patents

Vanity Fair: Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear
http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2008/05/monsanto200805

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34 years ago in 1982, six weeks of protests took place in Warren County, NC against the State’s decision to bury 400,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with toxic chemicals (polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB) in the county. The Warren County landfill was permitted by the EPA, which waived multiple requirements designed to ensure public safety and not contaminate groundwater. 523 protestors, including children and a congressional delegate, were arrested.

This is an important moment in the Environmental Justice Movement because it was the first time environmental racism garnered attention on a national scale. Warren County, which was 60% black at the time in a state that was 22% black, was chosen as the landfill site despite not meeting EPA requirements for a landfill.

Although activists were unable to prevent the landfill, they succeeded in creating a capable Environmental Justice organization and a voter registration foundation that made Warren County the first county in North Carolina in which the majority of the Board of County Commissioners was black. This moment in Warren County also spurred other national investigations into Environmental Racism, among the first of their kind.

Exposure to Endocrine Disruptors during Pregnancy Affects the Brain Two Generations Later

Prenatal exposure to low doses of the environmental contaminants polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, change the developing brain in an area involved in metabolism, and some effects are apparent even two generations later, a new study finds. Performed in rats, the research was presented at the Endocrine Society’s 97th annual meeting in San Diego.

Hereditary effects included increased body weight, but only in descendants of females—and not males—exposed to PCBs in the womb, said study co-author Andrea Gore, PhD, professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

“These endocrine-disrupting chemicals affect the developing brain differently in males and females,” Gore said.

PCBs are known endocrine disruptors, chemicals in the environment that interfere with hormones and their actions in the body. PCBs are present in air, water, soil and many products manufactured before these chemicals were banned in the U.S. in 1979.

Brain development and function, and their regulation by hormones, are very similar between rats and humans, according to Gore.

“We believe,” Gore said, “that results in our rat model may point to the potential vulnerability of the developing human brain to environmental endocrine disruptors.”

In this study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, the investigators gave a mixture of PCBs to pregnant rats at the beginning of their third trimester, thus directly exposing their offspring to the endocrine disruptors. Doses of PCBs were low to be comparable to that of human exposure, Gore said. Other pregnant rats received a low dose of estrogen to account for PCB’s estrogenic effects, and control rats received a placebo instead of PCBs.

The researchers allowed the first-generation rats born to PCB-exposed and control rats to mature and then bred them (both males and females) through two additional generations, to see if the effects of PCBs were heritable.

Gore and her colleagues found that the first generation of PCB-exposed rats had changes to 9 genes in their brains, in the arcuate nucleus, a region involved in reproduction and metabolic function. The researchers saw few changes in the second-generation rodents, other than decreased levels of the hormone progesterone in females.

In the third generation, though, rats descended from animals exposed to the low-dose estrogen had changes to three genes in the arcuate nucleus that are involved in biological rhythms and metabolic function. These changes did not occur in descendants of control rats.

Because the third generation had no personal exposure to the treatment, the researchers concluded that the observed changes occurred through some form of inheritance. Gore said the reason why the second generation was less affected than the third generation is unclear but may have to do with the timing of the original exposure during development.

All three generations of rats descended from PCB-exposed females weighed significantly more than the other rats, the findings showed.