Garden, Plant, Cook!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Greening - Monsanto - What Did They Know and When Did They Know It?

Dear Folks,

A report recently released on more of the potential dangers of Monsant's Roundup, brings up more questions about what Monsanto knew, who else knew and when did they know it.

Here is a Huffington Post link to read.

I want to draw your attention to a couple of, what I consider, important points.

Let's take for example a new drug out that has had years of R&D and the FDA approves the drug.  The companies are required to (and hopefully be really honest about) detail any potential contraindications, allergic reactions and anything that could cause a potentially life-threatening event.

In other words they are required to give doctors and patients all the information they need to make an informed decision on whether this drug is safe enough to use, or in the alternative has limited enough risks to out weigh the potential health issues over using it to treat "the" health problem.

So why is a chemical substance, applied to soil and food not treated the same way.

Do you remember all the 'exposes' on what the cigarette companies knew when they were telling people the butts were perfectly safe?  People were outraged and lawsuits followed - the companies are still in business, albeit with stronger and stronger health warnings required.  At least most smokers can't now say they don't know the risks.

I moved to the Valley in 1976 and experienced the massive floods of 1978 when the salt river destroyed the main bridge connecting the two sides of the east valley (for safety's sake I got stuck on the opposite side of the river from my home).  The planners had to make a decision about rebuilding the bridge based, in part, on costs and whether the bridge could survive a 50, 100 or 500 years flood.  Experts reported that given the nature of the flooding in '78 we had all three events!  So I remember reading with opened mouth alarm when the powers-that-be released reports on why they were rebuilding for a 50 year flood, because of the considerable cost to build one for a 100 or 500 year flood.  By the way the much Older Mill Avenue bridge withstood all of them!

Anyway, here is what I remember one of the reports indicated:  Because of the cost of the 100/500 year options, part of the factor was the number of acceptable deaths going with the 50 year version.  Did you get that?  It may be that they never intended that little piece of information to be released to the public, but it was - wish I could find the reference - it may be out there on the internet in archives.

The point of that little story is:  What health issues, deaths and environmental impact did Monsanto's own chemical engineers and others know and what did they decide to keep from the public?

Evey choice we make as consumers is or should be an informed decision.

You may not choose to decide if the jacket you are buying will last 1 year or 10 years - it would not be a bad idea.  But the point is when it comes to foods, chemicals and environmental impact on our lives and families we have a right to access all information on which we would reliably make an informed decision.  By withholding any part of "material" facts which alters what decision we would make if we knew them, a company or regulator is making the decision for you - without your knowledge.

Whether you believe an acceptable risk is 'acceptable' to you, each of us should support the right to know by the public at large.

It offers no comfort to me that people can sue a company which misleads the public, after the fact, after someone is dying or dead, because of that 'material' information which was not allowed to be accessible.

And, no, I do not support peoples right to sue when they are behaving so foolishly they bring the danger on themselves.  You can only give people information or make it available - you can't make them pay attention.

I want to know if my food contains GMO products.  I want to know what Monsanto knew and knows.  I want the USDA and FDA to require as much 'material' information as they require on drugs.  And I want all of it.

Monsanto defends its roundup and related products on the basis of preventing mass-starvation.  That is a really good motive.  However, if you knew that farming and eating those products would shorten your life, cause birth defects in your children, deplete the world's pollinators, and eventually 'cut' production of food crops - what decisions might be made instead?

Food for thought!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

1 comment:

David Oberpriller said...


I agree that I want all the information. What you are referring to is often called the "nanny state" -- government becomes your "nanny" and takes care of you from cradle to grave, making all your decisions for you.

Don't forget that sometimes the process works the other way, too. "Nanny" makes decisions that something is bad (often resulting in banning something) that had you seen the information, you would have gladly accepted the risks.

So, you are right, give us the info and let the person make an informed decision.