According to a new report released last Tuesday, industry regulators have known for years that Roundup, the world’s best-selling herbicide produced by the U.S. based Monsanto Corporation, causes birth defects. The report, “Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?”, says that industry regulators have known since as early as 1980 that glyphosate, the chemical on which Roundup and other herbicides are based, can cause birth defects in laboratory animals. Why am I not surprised?
Monsanto, the Missouri-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation, has been known more for its harmful products than its innovations. It’s also been known for its pollution in regards to the disposal of PCBs. In Anniston, Alabama, a Monsanto factory knowingly discharged both mercury and PCB-laden waste into local creeks for over 40 years and also buried millions of pounds of PCB in open-pit landfills.
Monsanto has also been known for its aggressive litigation, suing dozens of family farmers for patent infringement in connection with its genetically engineered seeds. Speaking of seeds, Monsanto currently produces the controversial “terminator” seed. It produces plants that have sterile seeds so they do not flower or grow fruit after the initial planting, forcing the farmers to repurchase the seeds every season.
The list of harmful products has grown over the decades since the chemical giant began manufacturing DDT in 1944. As Monsanto transitioned into the Bio-Tech giant that we all know today, they continue to place their greed for profit over public health and the environment. Here is a short list of some of those products:
- DDT Along with companies in 15 other countries, Monsanto began manufacturing the insecticide DDT in the 1940’s. It was used mainly to combat Typhus and Malaria and was in large part successful. However, DDT is toxic to a wide range of animals in addition to insects, especially marine animals, and is responsible for birth defects in humans. Studies show DDT to lower sperm count in men, cause early pregnancy loss in women, and lead to improper thyroid functions, Parkinson’s and asthma among other illnesses. It is also a persistent organic pollutant, staying in the environment long after its use. DDT was banned in many countries in the 1970’s, but is still manufactured in India to this day.
- Agent Orange During the Vietnam War, 20 million gallons of the defoliant code named “Agent Orange” was sprayed on Vietnam. Manufactured by Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemical, it is said to have killed or maimed 400,000 people while another 500,000 children were born with birth defects. Agent Orange was discovered to contain an extremely toxic dioxin compound after the U.S. military sprayed over 20% of Vietnam forests over the course of the war. Dioxins from Agent Orange have persisted in the Vietnamese environment since the war and, while exposed American soldiers were compensated by Monsanto and Dow Chemical, the people of Vietnam have not received a dime or an apology.
- rBGH recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone is an artificial growth hormone designed to raise the production of a cow’s milk. Monsanto was the first corporation to develop the technology, and branded it as “Posilac”, at a time when milk was already overproduced. The United States is the only First World country to permit people to drink rBGH-produced milk. Posilac was banned from use in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all European Union countries. Although the World Health Organization and other institutions have deemed the milk safe to drink, the concern lies more with the animals themselves. Studies have shown an average increase in milk output to about 15%, but a nearly 25% increase in the risk of mastitis, a 40% reduction in fertility, and a 55% increased risk of developing clinical signs of lameness.
- Aspartame Aspartame is an artificial sweetener found in most diet foods and beverages. It is used in more than 90 countries worldwide and is commonly known to be safe to consume. However, some scientists say that it is by far the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods. It is difficult to ascertain the truth about the health concerns surrounding aspartame, as the internet and various media outlets all have differing opinions. Debating the harm of aspartame can be a lot like debating religion; existent, inconclusive, non-existent. Some say it’s perfectly healthy, others say it can kill you in the long term. I for one would rather be safe than sorry – after all, it does very little, if anything, to help you lose weight.
So given Monsanto’s product history, it’s no surprise to see that Roundup may cause birth defects. According to the report, the European Commission has known that glyphosate causes malformations at least since 2002, but the information was not made public. Glyphosate was supposed to be up for review next year, but now it seems it won’t be reviewed until 2015. The report also said that the chemical will not be reviewed under more stringent, up-to-date standards until 2030; a little late for a potentially hazardous substance.
This evil corporation has highly active political lobbying practices and has spent millions every year to ensure their aims are met. Monsanto has had Judges (Clarence Thomas), FDA officials (Michael R. Taylor, Dr. Michael A. Friedman) and EPA officials (Linda J. Fisher) all working for them at some point – even Former Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld made a cool twelve million thanks to Monsanto.
Thanks in part to the fourteenth amendment to the U.S. constitution, a corporation is seen as a living, breathing human being under American law; a human being that can be sued (which it has been repeatedly), but not locked up. How much damage can a corporation do to the earth, to animals, to other human beings before their corporate charter is revoked?
One of the biggest problems I have in regards to biotech and chemical companies is that it’s hard to determine exactly what products contain their chemicals and ingredients. It makes it very hard for me or anyone else to boycott a company that does not deserve our money. In my opinion, the chemical ingredients in food and beverages should be identified with the company who produces them. I’m sure there are more things to avoid than diet soft drinks.
You can follow Quiet Mike on Twitter at @MWeishar