The EPA’s Ties to Monsanto Could Be Disastrous

WHO-says-Roundup-probably-causes-cancerBy Thom Hartmann. This article is reprinted from the Summer 2016 issue of The Trial Lawyer magazine.

Conservative politicians love to talk about how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) only issues “job-killing regulations,” especially if they’re taking campaign contributions from fossil fuel billionaires like the Koch brothers or from agrochemical giants like Monsanto.

Republican Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee Lamar Smith, for example, has spent years trying to stop the EPA from conducting any real research about climate change or passing any real regulations in general. But apparently it’s true that every once in a while, even a blind mouse finds cheese; it seems like Lamar Smith might actually have a legitimate complaint about an EPA report.

In May 2016, Smith wrote a letter to the EPA, demanding to know why a risk report marked “Final Report” about glyphosate was retracted just three days after it was published.

Glyphosate is “probable carcinogen”

The EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee issued the “Final Report” on glyphosate on April 29, 2016, and 13 members of the review committee had signed their name to the report’s findings that glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

The findings should raise eyebrows to begin with, because they directly contradict a report from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, which found last year that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen.” But what’s really caused a stir from environmentalists and conservatives alike, and why Lamar Smith has started overseeing the matter, is that the EPA pulled the report after just three days, and claimed that the report was published “inadvertently.”

Smith wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on May 4, 2016, that “the subsequent backtracking on [this report’s] finality raises questions about the agency’s motivation in providing a fair assessment of glyphosate.” But Lamar Smith was a few days late to the party condemning the EPA’s research, because the Center for Biological Diversity had already issued a press release condemning the EPA finding as “disappointing, but not terribly surprising [because] industry has been manipulating this research for years.”

This shouldn’t come as any surprise though, because using industry research is part of the EPA’s scheme of “cooperative regulation” — something that’s been in place ever since President Ronald Reagan appointed Anne Gorsuch to head the EPA in the early 1980s.

During her tenure as head of the EPA, Gorsuch cut the EPA’s budget by 22 percent; she handed many of the duties of the EPA down to states and contractors; and she made a cascade of appointments at lower levels in the agency that led to a fundamental shift in how the EPA regulated industry.

“Cooperative regulation”

You see, in the world of Reaganism, regulators shouldn’t challenge industry. Instead, under “cooperative regulation,” regulators are supposed to work together with industry to establish regulations that protect public safety without hurting corporate profits.

“Cooperative regulation” is why regulators in the United States need to prove that a product is unsafe before a corporation will pull that product from store shelves, because corporate profits are at least as valuable as public safety.

It’s why over 750 products containing glyphosate are still for sale in the United States nearly a year after the World Health Organization found that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic.”

“Cooperative regulation” is also why our regulatory agencies take research from privately funded think-tanks and from industry lobbying groups.

And that’s exactly what seems to be at the core of what’s going on with this retracted glyphosate report.

Dozens of papers cited in the retracted EPA report on glyphosate are “unpublished regulatory studies,” meaning that they weren’t peer-reviewed and it’s unclear how the data was collected or tested. As Nathan Donley with the Center for Biological Diversity wrote in a press release, “The EPA’s analysis relied heavily on industry-funded studies that have not undergone public scrutiny, while the WHO used publicly available research for its analysis.”

And this is a huge problem, because the EPA was established by the Nixon administration “because arresting environmental deterioration is of great importance to the quality of life in our country and the world.”

When Nixon authorized the creation of the EPA, there was bipartisan consensus that this country needs a single, streamlined regulatory agency dedicated to protecting our air and water. Now, we’re approaching a bipartisan consensus that the EPA is broken. And the fact is, it’s been broken for more than 30 years, ever since the Reagan administration turned it into a partner of industry, rather than a regulator.

It’s time to get federal regulators out of bed from the industries that they’re supposed to be overseeing.

It’s time for the EPA and other regulatory agencies to adopt the precautionary principle that says that techniques like fracking and products like glyphosate have to be proven safe before consumers are exposed to them.

We need to strengthen the EPA and other regulatory agencies so that they can conduct independent research about environmental threats and public health concerns, and so that they don’t need to solicit biased, industry-funded research from multinational corporations.

And it’s time to end the revolving door between the private sector and government agencies like the EPA, the Federal Communications Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and the Securities and Exchange Commission, because the American people deserve government regulators that put public safety ahead of corporate profits.

This article was first published on Truthout.

Read More

Monsanto RoundUp Herbicide Found in Cheerios, Ritz Crackers and Doritos

roundup-cancerIndependent food safety testing done by Food Democracy found extremely high levels of the herbicide glyphosate — the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup — in America’s most popular food products.

Roundup is the most heavily used chemical weedkiller in food and agricultural production in human history, as a result of the widespread adoption of genetically engineered crops now grown on more than 175 million acres in the U.S. and more than 440 million acres around the globe.

Roundup is used on crops, lawns, home gardens, parks, roadsides and forests. So far 38 actions have been filed against Monsanto in Roundup Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2741, Case 3:16-md-02741-VC.

These lawsuits allege that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, particularly its active ingredient, glyphosate, causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes). Plaintiffs each allege that they or their decedents developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup over the course of several or more years.

Plaintiffs also allege that the use of glyphosate with other ingredients, in particular the surfactant polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA), renders Roundup even more toxic than glyphosate on its own. Also read Court Appoints Leadership In Roundup Cancer MDL.

Harm to human health

New scientific evidence shows that probable harm to human health could begin at ultra-low levels of glyphosate e.g. 0.1 parts per billions (ppb). Popular foods tested for glyphosate measured between 289.47 ppb and at levels as high as 1,125.3 ppb.

The testing and analysis were performed by Anresco Laboratories, San Francisco, an FDA-registered laboratory that has performed expert food safety testing since 1943. The laboratory found that well-known products tested for glyphosate, Original Cheerios, for example, measured levels as high as 1,125.3 ppb. Other high levels of glyphosate were found in familiar products such as Oreos, Doritos, and Ritz Crackers, among 29 foods tested.

Currently, U.S. regulators allow a very high level of daily glyphosate residue in America’s food. The acceptable daily intake (ADI) limit is set at 1.75 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight per day (written 1.75 mg/kg bw/day) in the U.S., versus a more cautious 0.3 mg/kg bw/day in the European Union. Tolerances have been set based on corporate-sponsored studies and industry influence on the regulatory process.

New research shows that Roundup causes liver and kidney damage in rats as reflected in changes in the functions of 4,000 genes at only 0.05 parts per billion (ppb) glyphosate equivalent indicating damage. Credible independent, peer-reviewed scientific evidence now shows that the levels of harm to human health could begin at the ultra-low levels of 0.1 parts per billion (ppb) of glyphosate.

“It’s important for individuals and parents to understand that glyphosate contamination cannot be removed by washing and is not broken down by cooking or baking. Glyphosate residues can remain stable in food for a year or more, even if the foods are frozen or processed,” the report says.

Lobbying Backlash from Monsanto

In March 2015, leading cancer experts from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen.” IARC reached its decision based on the research of 17 top cancer experts from 11 countries, who met to assess the carcinogenicity of 5 pesticides. The IARC review of glyphosate has led to the European Parliament calling for a complete ban on non-commercial public use of glyphosate and serious restrictions on agricultural use.

Monsanto’s furious response includes:

  • Working with CropLife America to drive efforts to cut off U.S. funding for the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
  • The EPA had planned to hold four days of public meetings – over industry objections– to examine scientific research on glyphosate. But the industry, which deemed the meetings “unnecessary” and “inappropriate,” successfully derailed those Oct. 18-21 public meetings by challenging certain scientists appointed by EPA to an advisory panel.

Read More

Court Appoints Leadership In Roundup Cancer MDL

roundup-cancerUS District Judge Vince Chhabria appointed Robin Greenwald of Weitz & Luxenberg, PC, Michael Miller of The Miller Firm, LLC, and Aimee Wagstaff of Andrus Wagstaff, PC as Plaintiffs’ CoLead Counsel of Roundup Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2741, Case 3:16-md-02741-VC.

Pretrial Order No. 2, issued Nov. 17, also named them as chairs of the Executive Committee to coordinate and oversee the activities of the MDL. The court further named Michael Baum, Baum Hedlund Aristei and Goldman, Hunter Lundy, Lundy Lundy Soileau & South, and Yvonne Flaherty, Lockridge Grindal Nauen as Executive Committee members.

The court appointed Lori Andrus, Andrus Anderson, LLP and Mark Burton, Audet and Partners as co-liaison counsel. The role of co-liaison counsel will include administrative matters, such as to liaise with Plaintiffs’ attorneys who file cases in this MDL and who are not appointed to leadership in the MDL.

Causes cancer

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) created the new MDL in the Northern District of California. There are 21 actions pending in 14 districts. Including the potential tag-along actions, there are now 37 actions pending in 21 districts. More than 10 different law firms represent plaintiffs in these actions, which were spread across the country.

The MDL Court noted that in the two actions previously pending in the Northern District of California, it had granted Monsanto’s request to bifurcate the proceedings. “However, because not all parties to the MDL have had an opportunity to be heard on this issue, the Court will consider additional arguments regarding bifurcation at the case management conference,” the judge wrote.

These lawsuits allege that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, particularly its active ingredient, glyphosate, causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes). Plaintiffs each allege that they or their decedents developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup over the course of several or more years. Plaintiffs also allege that the use of glyphosate in conjunction with other ingredients, in particular the surfactant polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA), renders Roundup even more toxic than glyphosate on its own.

Read More

Judge Seeks Lead Counsel in Roundup Products Liability Litigation

roundup-cancerUS District Judge Vince Chhabria requested attorneys who wish to be lead counsel in In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2741, Case 3:16-md-02741-VC, to submit applications by October 20, when the first pretrial conference will be held in San Francisco.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) created the new MDL in the Northern District of California. There are currently 21 actions pending in 14 districts. Including the potential tag-along actions, there are now 37 actions pending in 21 districts. More than 10 different law firms represent plaintiffs in these actions, which were spread across the country.

In the Oct. 6 order, Judge Chhabria stated that the parties will discuss:

  • The appointment of liaison and lead counsel for the plaintiffs.
  • The possibility of bifurcating proceedings to address general causation before any plaintiff-specific questions.
  • The schedule for discovery.
  • The merits of appointing an independent expert at the parties’ shared expense.

Causes cancer

The MDL Court noted that in the two actions previously pending in the Northern District of California, it had granted Monsanto’s request to bifurcate the proceedings. “However, because not all parties to the MDL have had an opportunity to be heard on this issue, the Court will consider additional arguments regarding bifurcation at the case management conference,” the judge wrote.

Three attorneys have submitted applications to be lead counsel including Robin Greenwald of Weitz & Luxenberg, Hunter Lundy of Lundy, Lundy, Soileau & South LLP, and Aimee H. Wagstaff of Andrus Wagstaff.

These lawsuits allege that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, particularly its active ingredient, glyphosate, causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes). Plaintiffs each allege that they or their decedents developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup over the course of several or more years. Plaintiffs also allege that the use of glyphosate in conjunction with other ingredients, in particular the surfactant polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA), renders Roundup even more toxic than glyphosate on its own.

For more information read New Illinois Lawsuit Charges Monsanto’s Roundup Causes Cancer

Read More

New Roundup Plaintiff Charges Monsanto with Fraud Concerning Cancer Danger

WHO-says-Roundup-probably-causes-cancerAn Illinois plaintiff who contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes) after using the herbicide Roundup, charges in a new lawsuit filed in federal court that Monsanto knew of the cancer risks since the 1980s, but covered it up.

John Cushman of Effingham County, IL, sprayed Roundup on a regular basis for decades. He filed suit in US District Count for the Southern District of Illinois, alleging that the maker, Monsanto Company of St. Louis, MO, pressured the EPA not to label the herbicide as carcinogenic, and aggressively marketed it as “safer than table salt.” Cushman v. Monsanto, Case No. 16 cv 1042.

He is represented by Robert J. McLaughlin, John Backes Prior and Kyle Pozan of Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge, LLC in Chicago.

Monsanto was forced to drop claims that Roundup was non-toxic and safe in 1996 after the New York Attorney General filed suit, charging that the claims were deceptive and misleading. Monsanto did not change its claims in any other state.

In 1985 the EPA classified glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, as a possible human carcinogen. Succumbing to pressure from Monsanto, in 1991 the EPA changed glyphosate’s classification to a “Group E” — noncarcinogenic for humans. The decision came after two occasions when the EPA found that laboratories hired by Monsanto to test the toxicity of its Roundup products committed scientific fraud.

The EPA had planned to release a new risk assessment by July 2015, but it has delayed releasing it in light of the World Health Organization’s 2015 finding that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen.”

Fraudulent concealment

The complaint argues that because of Monsanto’s fraudulent concealment, the statute of limitations on the claim should be tolled.

“Even as of July 2016, Defendant continues to represent to the public that “Regulatory authorities and independent experts around the world have reviewed numerous long-term/carcinogenicity and genotoxicity studies and agree that there is no evidence that  glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup® brand herbicides and other glyphosate-based herbicides, causes cancer, even at very high doses, and that it is not genotoxic,” the complaint states (emphasis added).

Plaintiffs in 14 different federal courts are seeking to create the new MDL No. 2741 to hear all the Roundup litigation. The Roundup motion to consolidate (PDF) seeks to organize the litigation in the Southern District of Illinois before Judge Nancy Rosenstengel or David Herndon. A similar motion is pending to consolidate the cases in the US District Court of Hawaii. The first action was filed on October 9, 2015.

Roundup has been on the market for 40 years.

  • It is the most widely-used agriculture chemical in history.
  • Each year, approximately 250 million pounds of glyphosate are sprayed on crops, commercial nurseries, suburban lawns, parks, and golf courses.
  • In 2010, an estimated 70% of corn and cotton and 90% of soybean fields in the United States contained Roundup Ready seeds. The company accounts for 27% of the world seed market.

For further reading, see Plaintiffs Seek to Consolidate Lawsuits Charging that Roundup Causes Cancer

Read More

New Illinois Lawsuit Charges Monsanto’s Roundup Causes Cancer

WHO-says-Roundup-probably-causes-cancerAn Illinois man filed suit against Monsanto in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois alleging he developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma from using the weed killer Roundup.

Roundup motion to consolidate (PDF) seeks to organize the litigation in the Southern District of Illinois before Judge Nancy Rosenstengel or David Herndon. A similar motion is pending to consolidate the cases in the US District Court of Hawaii.

Probable carcinogen

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized intergovernmental cancer agency of the World Health Organization, declared in March 2015 that glyphosate, the chemical in Roundup, is a “probable carcinogen.”

Roundup is used in 130 countries and is found in rivers and groundwater, according to many studies. Plants absorb glyphosate and it cannot be removed by washing or peeling produce or by milling, baking or brewing grains. It has been found in food, in the urine of agricultural works and even in the urine of urban dwellers who are not in direct contact with glyphosate. Those most at risk are farm workers, landscapers and employees of garden centers and nurseries.

Charles Bridgeman filed a lawsuit July 18 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois against Monsanto Company alleging failure to use ordinary care in designing and manufacturing Roundup, failure to accompany their product with proper warnings and failure to conduct adequate testing and post-marketing surveillance to determine the safety of product. It is case number 3:16-cv-00812

According to the complaint, beginning in 1990, Bridgeman regularly used the defendants’ product, Roundup, to control weeds. The suit says in 2011 Bridgeman was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which he alleges is a direct result from his exposure to the herbicide.

The lawsuit states he suffered serious and dangerous side effects, as well as other severe and permanent injuries, physical pain and mental anguish, incurred medical expenses and diminished enjoyment of life.

He is represented by attorneys Edward A. Wallace and by Corey G. Lorenz of Wexler Wallace LLP in Chicago, and by Yvonne Flaherty of Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP in Minneapolis.

 

Read More

Roundup Cancer Plaintiffs Seek MDL Against Monsanto

WHO-says-Roundup-probably-causes-cancerEight plaintiffs who have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes) have petitioned the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to create MDL 2741 before Judge J. Michael Seabright in the US District Court of Hawaii.

“The number of related actions will likely rise to the thousands in the coming months,” according to Plaintiffs’ attorneys Timothy Litzenburg and Michael Miller of The Miller Firm in Orange, VA. “Judge Seabright has already spent considerable time and resources familiarizing himself with the complex issues involved in the Roundup litigation and Hawaii has a substantial interest in the adjudication of these actions. ”

Another motion is pending to consolidate the cases in the Southern District of Illinois.

Biggest mass tort since asbestos

Mass Tort Nexus has added the hottest emerging litigation to its September Course: RoundUp Litigation. “This could be the biggest mass tort since asbestos,” says John Ray, a leading consultant to the Mass Tort industry for over a decade.

Timothy Litzenberg will be addressing the emerging RoundUp Cancer litigation. He filed one of the original complaints in district court on behalf of a client who developed cancer after exposure to RoundUp. He is also one of the attorneys supporting the Plaintiffs’ motion to form an MDL.

In US District Court, Monsanto failed to derail the RoundUp litigation. Monsanto, as well as Plaintiffs attorneys including Tim have now separately moved to support the formation of an MDL. “This emerging Toxic Tort may involve more plaintiffs than any in history.Do not miss out on the chance to get information on this litigation in its early stages,” Ray says.

To attend the Sept. 23rd  – Sept. 26th for the “Four Days to Mass Tort Success Course” in Fort Lauderdale, contact Barbara Capasso at (954) 383-3932 or barbara@masstortnexus.com for more information.

“Probably carcinogenic”

A 2015 report from the International Agency for Research on cancer – or IARC – a division of the World Health Organization. It found glyphosate to be “probably carcinogenic.” The report says glyphosate caused cancer in lab tests on animals and found that the chemical damaged DNA in human cells.

Monsanto has a significant presence in Hawaii. The company owns or leases approximately 784 acres of farmland on Maui island and 2,296 acres on Molokai island. Monsanto employs more than 1,000 local Hawaii residents and has invested millions in specialized facilities in the state. Monsanto’s operations comprise one-quarter of all Maui county agricultural activity, and the seed industry in Molokai is the most significant private industry activity aside from tourism.

Each of the related actions and any tag-along cases have common questions of fact:
(1) whether Roundup was marketed with adequate warnings.
(2) whether Defendants conducted adequate testing of Roundup.
(3) whether Roundup exposure contributed to the development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Two cases in Hawaii are the most developed in the country. “Judge Seabright has already invested substantial time in this litigation and has issued a lengthy and well-reasoned opinion involving complex questions of federal preemption, federal regulation of herbicides and statute of limitations,” Litzenburg and Miller argue.

The state and local governments of Hawaii have taken steps to restrict the use of herbicides and planting of genetically engineered crops even before the release of the IARC report on glyphosate.

Read More