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Dangerous Drugs & Medical Devices News & Commentary on Prescription Drug & Medical Device Lawsuits

Beginning of the End for Monsanto?

Posted in Lawsuits, Politics, Public Health

A former farm worker named Enrique Rubio may just be the right “David” to take down “Goliath” chemical company Monsanto. Rubio filed suit against the manufacturer of Roundup® early last week, claiming that the company’s infamous herbicide is the cause of his bone cancer and inability to work.

Roundup’s® safety has been hotly debated for years among scientists, environmental activists and those concerned with human health. Rubio’s suit, if successful, may put an end to that debate once and for all by forcing Monsanto to provide proof that it knowingly withheld data on the true dangers of its flagship product.

The active ingredient in Roundup®, a nasty chemical called glyphosate, was discovered in 1970. Rubio’s suit states that [g”]lyphosate is a broad-spectrum, non-selective herbicide used in a wide variety of herbicidal products around the world. Plants treated with glyphosate translocate the systemic herbicide to their roots, shoot regions and fruit, where it interferes with the plant’s ability to form aromatic amino acids necessary for protein synthesis. Treated plants generally die within two to three days. Because plants absorb glyphosate, it cannot be completely removed by washing or peeling produce or by milling, baking, or brewing grains.

Monsanto claimed glyphosate was “a technological breakthrough: it could kill almost every weed without causing harm either to people or to the environment.” However, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that glyphosate is “a probable cause of cancer.”

Why would Monsanto take such a big risk? Money. The company needed a win in the industry in order to continue its “reputation and dominance in the marketplace. Largely due to the success of Roundup® sales, Monsanto’s agriculture division was out-performing its chemicals division’s operating income, and that gap increased yearly.” So, rather than go with a less toxic product, Monsanto sold humanity and the planet for its own bottom line.

Wait, a less toxic product? Is that possible? Indeed, it is possible and was possible from Day One. “The harm caused by [Monsanto’s] Roundup® products far outweighed their benefit. …Roundup® products were and are more dangerous than alternative products and {the company] could have designed its Roundup® products to make them less dangerous. Indeed, at the time that [Monsanto] designed its Roundup® products, the stat of the industry’s scientific knowledge was such that a less risky design or formulation was attainable.

So basically, Monsanto decided it was better (for it) to release a carcinogenic product that it was to spend a bit more money taking the time to research a less harmful alternative. The sad thing is, knowing that its product was dangerous, Monsanto had to pull some serious strings to get it approved.

The EPA originally classified glyphosate as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” in 1985. However, “after pressure from Monsanto, including contrary studies it provided to the EPA, the EPA changed its classification to evidence of non-carcinogenicity in humans in 1991.”

The “contrary studies” involved two “independent” labs that willfully committed scientific fraud. The FDA inspected one lab, Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories (IBT), in 1976. That inspection uncovered “discrepancies between the raw data and the final report relating to the toxicological impacts of glyphosate.”

This prompted the EPA to do its own audit. The EPA found the same results. Moreover, one EPA reviewer said that, “after finding ‘routine falsification of data’ at IBT, that it was ‘hard to believe the scientific integrity of the studies when they said they took specimens of the uterus from male rabbits.’” Unsurprisingly, three of IBT’s top executives were convicted of fraud in 1983.

The other lab, Craven Laboratories, was hired by Monsanto to perform additional tests on glyphosate in 1991. “In that same year, the owner of Craven Laboratories and three of its employees were indicted, and later convicted, of fraudulent laboratory practices in the testing of pesticides and herbicides.”

According to Rubio’s complaint, “Despite the falsity of the tests that underlie its registration, within a few years of its launch, Monsanto was marketing Roundup® in 115 countries.” Nowadays, Monsanto’s glyphosate products can be found in 130 countries and are approved for use on over 100 different crops. If you think that you’re safe, think again.

“[Glyphosate products] are ubiquitous in the environment. Numerous studies confirm that glyphosate is found in rivers, streams, and groundwater in agricultural areas where Roundup® is used. It has been found in food, in the urine of agricultural workers, and even in the urine of urban dwellers who are not in direct contact with glyphosate.”

The New York Attorney General sued Monsanto in 1996 claiming its Roundup® advertising was “false and misleading.” The suit specifically challenged “Monsanto’s general representations that its spray-on glyphosate-based herbicides, including Roundup®, were ‘safer than table salt’ and ‘practically non-toxic’ to mammals, birds, and fish.”

Monsanto agreed, in 1996, to “cease and desist from publishing or broadcasting any advertisements [in New York].”

Various other governments have either severely restricted or outright banned the sale of Roundup®, including the Netherlands, Brazil, France, Bermuda, Sri Lanka and Columbia.

Indeed, this may be the beginning of the end for Monsanto and Roundup®. One can only hope that justice will prevail in Rubio’s case and the chemical giant will be forced to tell the truth and face the consequences.