The Dangerous Effects Of Monsanto

Emily Paluk, Staff Writer

What if a product that you use everyday caused harm to you and your loved ones and you never realized it? What if you unknowingly continued to buy these products because they seemed to help clean up your yard and kill unwanted weeds? You might not realize it, but there are studies out there that may or may not affect your decision to purchase a product such as Roundup. Can you imagine sitting in a doctors office and just receiving news that you have cancer from a product that millions of people use everyday? A product just to make your yard look nicer could be a danger to you or your family.

DeWayne Johnson’s health is quickly declining, and he claims Monsanto is to blame for his situation. Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in August 2014 at the young age of 42. The terminally ill Johnson took Monsanto to court in June 2018 to claim that their product, Roundup, contains chemicals that cause cancer.

Since Johnson had first taken action, 4,000 plaintiffs have sued Monsanto saying Roundup has caused them, or a loved one, to develop cancer. Has the dying DeWayne Johnson started a movement against Monsanto that has turned bigger than he imagined and what does this mean for products similar to Roundup in the future? Brent Wisner, Johnson’s lawyer, said, “Jurors should hand down a verdict that would actually change the world.”

Not only was Dewayne Johnson searching for answers for how he got cancer, he was also convinced Monsanto knew what risks Roundup could present to everyone who comes in contact with it. Warnings and bans have started to pop up for these types of products, yet Monsanto still insists Roundup is completely safe to use. “The simple fact is he is going to die. It’s just a matter of time,”one of Johnson’s lawyers said.

DeWayne Johnson is a former school groundskeeper in the San Francisco area. He estimates that he sprayed 150 gallons of Roundup between 20 and 30 times each year. He spent four years at a San Francisco Bay Area school district, during which he was exposed to chemicals which he claims were harmful to him.

Johnson said, “I figured if it could kill weeds it could kill me. I took it seriously. That’s why I wore anything I could to protect myself.”

“The message of 40 years of scientific studies is clear: this cancer is not caused by glyphosate,” one of Monsanto’s lawyers said in rebuttal.

After more and more cases, will Monsanto finally give in and admit their wrongdoing, or will they try to convince the world they have been totally honest this entire time? Should the question be why is Monsanto still refuting all of this, while research has shown the dangers of Roundup. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer found that glyphosate-based herbicides, which is what Roundup is, are “probable” carcinogens.

The state of Michigan, along with the rest of the country, has been using Roundup regularly since it first came out in 1974. A website has been launched for those who live in Michigan and have been diagnosed with cancer after being exposed to Roundup. Michigan Monsanto Roundup lawsuits will try to win compensation for those affected. “When profits are at stake, it often takes the threat of signification litigation to force a large corporation to become a better corporate citizen,” said the website.

page1image28968page1image29128Monsanto is not only being questioned for Roundup, but for other products that are being claimed to be dangerous to consumers. Monsanto isn’t just a herbicide producer; the company is also known for products such as crop seeds and GMO’s. In February 2018, two representative reporters from Tampa, Florida were fired for digging into the truth about a highly controversial Monsanto product, milk. This product was thought to have caused cancer, similarly to Roundup. Two reporters named Steven Wilson and Jane Akre looked into exposing Monsanto, but were punished by losing their jobs. On “conventional” milk jugs, “no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST-treated and non-rbST-treated cows” can be found. Wilson and Akre found evidence that this statement is not true, but were shut down when they spoke out about it. rbST is another acronym for rbGH, which is a bovine growth hormone that always creates controversy. rbGH has been banned in over 30 countries, while the United States has not made that ruling yet.

“Monsanto’s engineered growth hormone did not comply with safety requirements, it could be absorbed by the body and therefore did have implications for human health,” a Canadian reporter said in this video: https://youtu.be/U3hCR_yCvkk. The reporters who wanted to uncover what was really going within the Monsanto company claimed they were gagged, threatened, and then fired by their TV station because their discoveries could have severely harmed Monsanto. Did Monsanto do something wrong if they’re trying to cover up people’s research?

Steven Wilson and Jane Akre were not the only journalists to become suspicious of Monsanto and their actions. An investigative journalist named Peter von Stackelberg, along with his team, posted 100,000 pages online to raise awareness and questions about how much Monsanto actually knew about the risks of their products versus what they told the public. Some of the documents collected by von Stackelberg and his team show from before the 1950s to present day, Monsanto has been aware of the danger of chemicals known as PCBs. These reports compiled by von Stackelberg are called the “Poison Papers.” Gonzaga University is hosting Peter von Stackelberg to share his findings on September 27.

A Twitter account, @MarchAgainstM, or March Against Monsanto, has been created to “raise awareness to shut down Monsanto patent on our life!”

Monsanto has merged with Bayer, a pharmaceutical company, and some believe this occurred to take all the attention away from the negativity surrounding Monsanto. The Monsanto name is no longer in use after 117 years. The March Against Monsanto Twitter posted this: “the Monsanto-Bayer merger came to light with a ton of controversy, but now, it appears to have slipped the radar screen as the two companies quietly merge into a monstrous entity that could control more than a quarter of the world’s pesticides and seeds market.”

The Monsanto story hits close to home for Michiganders. Activists exposed how some United States Senators took money from biotechnology companies, and then voted against the opinion of the majority public. Among these senators was Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow, who received over three quarters of a million dollars from agribusiness interests in agribusiness donations. Michigan citizens have shown their disappointment with Stabenow’s stance on Monsanto by taking to Twitter. @moonjuju tweeted, “I will NEVER vote for Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mi.) again! She STABBED us in the back and voted for the Monsanto pass…” Dr. Rick Kirschner, a naturopathic doctor, also tweeted, “Senator Debbie Stabenow (with Sen. Pat Roberts) leads Senate in stabbing American consumers in the back on behalf of Monsanto. #RECALLTHEMALL” The failure to pass an amendment that would allow individual states to pass laws protecting consumers from unlabeled GMOs is thought by some to be partly the doing of Debbie Stabenow. @NatCounterPunch, a political magazine, tweeted, “The DOJ is on the brink of essentially authorizing a monopoly. This is bad news for nearly everyone on the planet except Bauer and Monsanto executives and shareholders.” Opponents of Monsanto can make the case that the company has seemed to cover up anything and everything that could possibly ruin their reputation.

A Monsanto plant is located in Mason, Michigan which is about an hour and 45 minutes from Divine Child High School. However, there is a BASF corporation in Livonia, Michigan that does work somewhat similar to Monsanto. BASF Corporation is the largest affiliate of BASF SE and the second largest producer and marketer of chemicals and related products in North America

Monsanto has appealed to a California judge to throw out the verdict that awarded DeWayne Johnson $289 million. Monsanto claims the jury used insufficient evidence in order to award money to Johnson. The findings from years of scientific studies from sources such as the World Health Organization supplies evidence that glyphosate is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” On the other hand, the United States Environmental Protection Agency found glyphosate isn’t harmful to humans. Monsanto is holding out hope on October 10th, which is the day of the hearing set for the motions, that Judge Suzanne Bolanos will throw out the verdict, reduce the amount in which DeWayne Johnson receives, or create an entirely new trial. A statement from Germany’s Bayer reads, “the jury’s decision is wholly at odds with over 40 years of real-world use, an extensive body of scientific data and analysis … which support the conclusion that glyphosate-based herbicides are safe for use and do not cause cancer in humans.” When asked for a comment about the decision to appeal the verdict by a Divine Child High School student journalist, Monsanto did not respond back. It appears as though Bayer is concerned about the nearly 8,000 other cases against Monsanto that are currently hurting its stock worth. The stock is trading about 20 percent lower than it was before the verdict was given, and the worry of both Monsanto and Bayer employees continues.

Monsanto has been in the news for chemicals harming humans; what about animals in our environment? Monsanto now has to explain recent studies that came out about how chemicals in their Roundup product damages important bacteria in the guts of honeybees. This newest study found glyphosate decreases microbiota in bees’ gut. Microbiota is beneficial to the life of a bee because it helps a bee’s metabolism, weight gain, and immune system. An experiment which provided scientists with the conclusion that Roundup is dangerous to honeybees was done by collecting hundreds of honeybees from a hive, putting them in an environment where glyphosate was present, and then putting them back into their hive. The bees’ gut bacteria significantly decreased when they were close to glyphosate, and because the bacteria is important to their well-being, the likelihood of death is a lot greater if the honeybees lose their bacteria.