Monday, June 18, 2018

DeWayne Johnson v. Monsanto Company TRIAL UNDERWAY in San Francisco

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  June 18, 2018
  
June 18, 2018 – San Francisco, California - - The trial of DeWayne Johnson v. Monsanto Company should begin sometime this month in the Superior Court for the County of San Francisco, California. Plaintiff DeWayne “Lee” Johnson alleges that exposure to certain Monsanto glyphosate-based herbicides, including Roundup®, caused him to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

A presiding judge held a hearing this morning to determine that Superior Court Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos will be the judge assigned to oversee the Johnson Monsanto Roundup trial.

We anticipate at least five to seven court days to handle motions in limine (requests to exclude certain testimony) and jury selection.

Mr. Johnson’s case is not part of the cases consolidated in the Judicial Council Coordinated Proceeding (JCCP) in Alameda County. His case was not included in that JCCP and Judge Karnow agreed, and Monsanto stipulated, to expedite Mr. Johnson’s case to trial due to his failing health. 

The Miller Firm, based in Virginia, and Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, based in Los Angeles, are co-counsel for Mr. Johnson. Defendant Monsanto Co. is represented by attorneys from Hollingsworth, Farella Braun + Martel and Winston & Strawn.

Lee Johnson worked as a groundskeeper for the Benicia Unified School District. Between 2012 and 2015, Mr. Johnson’s job entailed the application of Monsanto glyphosate-based herbicides to school properties. In 2014, Mr. Johnson began to experience severe skin irritation, which he reported to health care providers.

Lee contacted Monsanto after discovering the rash. He called and wrote to Monsanto Company, asking if his rash could have been caused by his use of Roundup? Internal Monsanto emails, later obtained by his lawyers, discuss his call but Monsanto never responded to him, so he kept using Roundup®.

Medical notes from this time show that Mr. Johnson’s symptoms appeared to get worse with exposure to a Monsanto glyphosate-based herbicide. Mr. Johnson’s health care providers consulted Monsanto’s Material Safety Data Sheet for the herbicide, which did not refer to any type of cancer risk.

In August of 2014, Lee Johnson was diagnosed with epidermotropic T-cell lymphoma. After his diagnosis, his job still required him to apply and be in close contact with Monsanto glyphosate-based herbicides. Despite enduring chemotherapy treatments throughout 2015, Mr. Johnson’s cancer progressed and in September, a biopsy revealed mycosis fungoides (non-Hodgkin lymphoma with large cell transformation).

Mr. Johnson retained the Miller Firm to represent him and filed a lawsuit against Monsanto in 2016. According to the complaint, Mr. Johnson was healthy and active prior to his cancer diagnosis.

In January of 2018, Mr. Johnson’s treating physician testified in a deposition that 80 percent of Johnson’s body was covered by lesions and that he likely only had a few more months to live. Since the deposition, Mr. Johnson began taking a new drug and his condition has improved, though he often remains confined to his bed.

Mr. Johnson’s lawyers said that “although Lee is fighting for his life, he will find the strength and courage to stand up to Monsanto. Lee will show his children the true meaning of bravery regardless of the outcome.”

 What:

A hearing to assign a trial judge to DeWayne Johnson v. Monsanto Company (case no. CGC-16-550128) occurred on Monday, June 18 at 9:30 AM. Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos is the judge assigned to oversee the Johnson trial.

Motions in limine and jury selection will take approximately five to seven court days before the trial can begin, though opening statements could possibly take place as soon as Monday, June 25.

Mr. Johnson is the first claimant to take Monsanto Co. to trial over allegations that the agrochemical company knowingly concealed the cancer-causing risks associated with exposure to its billion-dollar herbicide, Roundup®.

On May 17, 2018, California Superior Court Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow issued an order that allows jurors in Johnson to consider the scientific evidence related to the cause of Mr. Johnson’s cancer as well as allegations that Monsanto knowingly suppressed evidence that exposure to Roundup® can cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Monsanto filed a motion for summary judgment based on another pretrial motion to exclude Mr. Johnson’s causation experts: if the experts were excluded, Mr. Johnson would not have evidence to prove medical causation. However, Judge Karnow ruled most of the opinions of the plaintiff’s experts were admissible and sufficient as evidence of both general and specific causation. As such, Monsanto’s motion for summary judgment on the basis of causation was denied.

Judge Karnow also ruled that Mr. Johnson carried his burden of producing evidence from which a reasonable jury could find that Monsanto had acted with such malice, fraud or oppression as to warrant punitive damages.

To look at court documents on the Johnson case, go to The Superior Court of California County of San Francisco, click Online Services, Case Query and enter case number CGC-16-550128.

You can also access court documents and related new stories at https://usrtk.org/pesticides/mdl-monsanto-glyphosate-cancer-case-key-documents-analysis/.

Lee with his sons
Lee's wife with their sons

Allegations:

The lawsuit alleges Monsanto, among other things:

  • Knew or had reason to know that its Roundup® products were defective and were inherently dangerous and unsafe when used in the manner instructed and provided by Defendants.

  • Did not sufficiently test, investigate, or study its Roundup® products and, specifically, the active ingredient glyphosate.

  • Knew or should have known at the time of marketing its Roundup® products that exposure to Roundup® and specifically, its active ingredient glyphosate, could result in cancer and other severe illnesses and injuries.

  • Did not conduct adequate post-marketing surveillance of its Roundup® products.

  • Could have employed safer alternative designs and formulations.

  • Information Monsanto did provide failed to contain relevant warnings, hazards. and precautions that would have enabled those exposed, such as Lee Johnson, to utilize the products safely and with adequate protection. Instead, Monsanto disseminated information that was inaccurate, false, and misleading and which failed to communicate accurately or adequately the comparative severity, duration, and extent of the risk of injuries with use of and/or exposure to Roundup® and glyphosate; continued to aggressively promote the efficacy of its products, even after it knew or should have known of the unreasonable risks from use or exposure; and concealed, downplayed, or otherwise suppressed, through aggressive marketing and promotion, any information or research about the risks and dangers of exposure to Roundup® and glyphosate.

  • Systematically suppressing or downplaying contrary evidence about the risks, incidence and prevalence of the side effects of Roundup® and glyphosate-containing products;

  • Continuing the manufacture and sale of its products with the knowledge that the products were unreasonably unsafe and dangerous.

The complaint cites studies concluding that exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup®, can cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma and a host of other serious health issues. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen based on a review of the available literature.

Monsanto contends its Roundup® products are safe and do not cause cancer, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Who:

Attorneys for the Plaintiff

From the Miller Firm LLC
David J. Dickens (Co-lead trial counsel)
Timothy Litzenburg  (Co-lead trial counsel)

From Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman PC
R. Brent Wisner (Co-lead trial counsel)

From Audet & Partners, LLP

Attorneys for the Defendant

From Hollingsworth LLP
Joe G. Hollingsworth
Martin C. Calhoun
Kirby T. Griffis
William J. Cople

From Farella Braun + Martel LLP
Sandra A. Edwards
Joshua W. Malone

From Winston & Strawn LLP
George C. Lombardi
James L. Hilmert

When:

Exact trial start date TBD after motions and jury selection are done. Baum Hedlund will send an alert to anyone interested in the exact start date. Opening statements could possibly take place on Monday, June 25.

Where:
Trial Judge - Suzanne Ramos Bolanos
Courtroom 504
400 McAllister St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

Watch it live? A request to broadcast the trial via CVN – Courtroom View Network will be made to Judge Bolanos. Baum Hedlund will keep interested press informed if the judge approves the trial being filmed for broadcast. Please contact CVN for pricing at https://cvn.com/pricing.

Contact: Robin McCall, Media Relations
Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC
Los Angeles ● Philadelphia ● Washington, D.C.

Main Office
Los Angeles Office
Phone: (310) 207-3233

San Francisco Office

Monday, May 14, 2018

GREAT ORGANIC FOOD SOURCING - LIST HERE!!


How to Buy Local ORGANIC FOOD


May 8, 2018  Organic Consumers Association

Despite growing demand for locally produced foods, millions of Americans live in rural areas where they have little or no access to any kind of healthy, nutrient-dense food, much less food produced in their own community.

That’s not healthy for residents of those communities. And it’s not healthy for the communities. According to a report from the American Planning Association:

Disparities in food access are influenced by geographic, economic and social factors, but also by a community’s food production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste recovery policies and practices. Food access is not simply a health issue but also a community development and equity issue. For this reason, access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food is a key component not only in a healthy, sustainable local food system, but also in a healthy, sustainable community.”

To build healthy local organic and regenerative food systems, we need help from policymakers and from forward-looking business and community leaders.

We also need strong consumer demand. You can help, by supporting local businesses and independent farmers. Here’s a list to help you get started.

LocalHarvest.org is the most comprehensive database for buying direct from family farmers.

1000ecofarms.com is fast becoming the Etsy of artisanal foods.

FoodWaze.com helps you find restaurants that live up to their claims of sourcing from local farms.

EatWild.com specializes in grass-fed and pasture-raised animal products. The site includes a directory of farms by state, a list of farms that ship, and has excellent information on the latest scientific research on the health benefits of farm-raised, as opposed to factory-farm-raised, animal products.

RealMilk.com provides a directory of raw milk sellers.

Monterey Seafood Watch helps you locate sources of sustainable seafood.

Local Food Directories, published and by the USDA, help you locate farmers markets, on-farm markets, CSAs, and food hubs.


Should we add to this list? Please email campaigns@organicconsumers.org and let us know.

Organic Consumers Association is a nonprofit consumer advocacy and grassroots organization. Keep up-to-date with OCA’s news and alerts by signing up for our newsletter.

Source:
 https://www.organicconsumers.org/blog/how-buy-local

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

MONSANTO To Be SUED AGAIN For 50 Years of Knowingly Poisoning Food Water Air

Judge Rules Non-Profits Can Sue Monsanto for Misleading Labeling of Popular Herbicide Roundup
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 7, 2018

CONTACT:
Jay Feldman, Beyond Pesticides, 202-543-5450, JFeldman@beyondpesticides.org
Katherine Paul, Organic Consumers Assoc.: (207) 653-3090, katherine@organicconsumers.org

Washington, DC- Beyond Pesticides (BP) and The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today responded to a federal judge’s ruling against Monsanto Co.’s motion to dismiss the groups’ lawsuit, filed in April, 2017.

Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, the lead plaintiff in the case, said:

“In the face of EPA’s poor regulation of pesticides, misleading pesticide product labeling cannot be left unchecked. The court’s decision to allow our case to move forward, in denying Monsanto’s motion to dismiss, is critical to showing that the company is deceiving the public with a safety claim on its Roundup (glyphosate) label. Its advertising and labeling claim that Roundup ‘targets an enzyme found in plants but not in people or pets’ is false, given the devastating harm that glyphosate has on beneficial bacteria in the gut biome. The disruption of the gut biome is associated with a host of 21st century diseases, including asthma, autism, bacterial vaginosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut syndrome, multiple sclerosis, obesity, Type 1 and 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s.

“The science on the hazards of Roundup (glyphosate) are clear and Monsanto officials know it. With this case, we seek to ensure that the public is not misled by false advertising and product labeling in the marketplace. It is a critical step toward ensuring that people are fully informed before purchasing toxic products that can poison them, their families, and the communities where they live.”

OCA International Director, Ronnie Cummins said:

“Monsanto aggressively markets Roundup as ‘safe’ for humans and animals, despite newer studies indicating that glyphosate may be carcinogenic and its use may affect human and animal cardiovascular, endocrine, nervous and reproductive systems. No reasonable consumer seeing the claim on this product that glyphosate targets an enzyme not found ‘in people or pets’ would expect that Roundup actually targets an important bacterial enzyme found in humans and animals, affecting the health of their immune system.

“Survey after survey shows that consumers rely on labels to guide their purchases and keep them and their families safe. When corporations mislead on the issue of a product’s effect on consumers and their families, they put everyone, but especially young children—in this case, playing in yards and parks—at risk, leaving the public no other recourse than to use the legal system to seek the removal of this misleading information.”

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, ruled that OCA and BP presented enough evidence to support that Monsanto’s labeling of its flagship weedkiller, Roundup, misleads consumers.

Through their attorneys, Richman Law Group, OCA and BP sued Monsanto on behalf of the general public, in Washington D.C., under the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act, for misleading the public by labeling its popular weedkiller Roundup as “target[ing] an enzyme found in plants but not in people or pets.” The nonprofits allege that this statement is false, deceptive and misleading, because the enzyme targeted by glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is, in fact, found in people and pets.

Beyond Pesticides is a national grassroots non-profit organization headquartered in the District of Columbia that works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides. For more information, visit www.beyondpesticides.org.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. For more information, visit: www.organicconsumers.org.

Richman Law Group (RLG) is a boutique law firm specializing in consumer protection and civil rights. RLG is dedicated to serving the greater good by holding large corporations accountable for actions that harm consumers, the environment, and the general public. For more information, visit: www.richmanlawgroup.com.


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Cancer-Causing GLYPHOSATE in ALMOST EVERY US FOOD- EPA Scientist

Pesticide linked to cancer is in nearly every US food: report


A widely used weed killer that’s been linked to cancer has turned up in nearly every common food in the US, according to a new report.
Scientists with the Food and Drug Administration found glyphosate, which has been used as an herbicide since the 1970s, in everything from corn to honey, granola, wheat crackers and oatmeal, The Guardian said, citing records it obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
“There’s a fair amount in all of them,” FDA chemist Richard Thompson wrote to colleagues in a January 2017 email that was among the records.
The FDA has been testing how prevalent glyphosate is in foods for two years but hasn’t released official results.
Linda Birnbaum, a toxicologist and director of the US National Institute of Environmental Health Services, said even a small exposure to pesticides can be dangerous.
“Even with low levels of pesticides, we’re exposed to so many, and we don’t count the fact that we have cumulative exposures,” Birnbaum told the Guardian.
Thompson, who works out of an FDA laboratory in Arkansas, wrote that broccoli was the only food that he had “on hand” that didn’t show any traces of the herbicide.
Another FDA chemist, Narong Chamkasem, found “over-the-tolerance” levels of glyphosate at 6.5 parts per million in corn, the Guardian reported. The legal limit is 5.0 parts per million.
But an FDA supervisor wrote to an Environmental Protection Agency official in an email that the corn was not considered an “official sample” – meaning that the shocking example wouldn’t be reported to the EPA.
Chamkasem also found traces of glyphosate in honey and oatmeal products. The FDA temporarily suspended testing after those findings and reassigned Chamkasem’s lab to “other programs,” the Guardian said.
An FDA spokesman told the Guardian that the agency has not found any illegal levels of glyphosate in corn, soy, milk or eggs – the four commodities part of its glyphosate “special assignment” — in its official samples.
The FDA noted that Chamkasem’s results of glyphosate in honey and oatmeal were not part of its assignment.
Farmers are able to kill weeds without destroying their crops thanks to glyphosate, which is found in Monsanto Company’s popular Roundup brand of weed killer. More than 200 million pounds of Roundup are used each year on fields in the US.
The herbicide is sprayed directly on some crops, including corn, soybeans, wheat and oats and used by spinach and almond farmers before growing season.
In December 2017, the EPA concluded that glyphosate “is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
“The agency’s assessment found no other meaningful risks to human health when the product is used according to the pesticide label,” the agency said on its website.
But Monsanto is currently facing more than 400 lawsuits in San Francisco by plaintiffs who claim the chemical causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma and that the company covered up the risks, according to nonprofit watchdog group US Right to Know.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

EPA: BAN PESTICIDE-DRENCHED FOOD SUPPLY - BAN ROUNDUP NOW!

Time to Ban Monsanto's Roundup Weedkiller—But Will EPA Act?

April 22, 2018  
Organic Consumers Association   by Alexis Baden-Mayer


Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, is the most-used agricultural chemical ever. Mounting scientific evidence of its human health impacts indicates that it may also be the most devastating.

TAKE ACTION! Tell the EPA: Ban Monsanto’s carcinogenic glyphosate-based Roundup weedkiller! Please add your own comments, especially if you or your loved-ones have been sickened by exposure to glyphosate.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been conducting its required 15-year re-registration review of glyphosate since 2009. The agency was supposed to reapprove or ban the chemical by the end of 2015. We assumed that glyphosate would get the stamp of approval for another 15 years while President Obama was still in office.

Then, in March 2015, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) panel of cancer experts, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), did its own review of the latest science on glyphosate. The IARC panel of 17 scientists unanimously agreed to reclassify the chemical as a probable human carcinogen.

The IARC cancer finding forced the EPA to take its glyphosate review more seriously. That slowed down the process. Now, the decision is in the hands of the Trump administration’s EPA.

Campaign to ban glyphosate alive and well, despite pro-chemical EPA

Under Trump, the EPA is controlled by the notorious Scott Pruitt who has a cozy relationship with Monsanto, one of his former campaign funders.

We probably have a better chance of getting Pruitt fired than we have of getting him to ban glyphosate.

That said, the campaign to ban Monsanto’s Roundup is winning around the globe. And here in the U.S., despite a pro-chemical EPA, there’s plenty of activity around opposition to glyphosate.

Non-Toxic Neighborhoods campaigners are getting localities to stop using glyphosate on parks and playgrounds.

Testing that revealed glyphosate in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and other so-called “natural” foods has spurred a movementto get these products out of grocery stores—which would mean getting glyphosate out of the U.S. food supply chain.

Even local hardware stores are dropping Roundup and going organic.

Cancer victims take Monsanto to court

Meanwhile, farmers, farm workers, landscapers and gardeners who used Roundup and developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) are suing Monsanto in courts across the country.

Earlier this year, in a federal court in California where 380 of these lawsuits have been combined into a single case, scientists educated the court on glyphosate-cancer science. The judge must review scientific experts’ methodologies for analyzing the scientific evidence to make sure they are valid. Ultimately jurors will decide whether the scientific evidence shows that Roundup causes NHL. The judge will determine which experts may testify at trial after a hearing set for May 10.

According to Carey Gillam, reporting for U.S. Right to Know, and the plaintiffs’ attorneys, the following experts testified for the plaintiffs.

Beate Ritz, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of the Epidemiology Department at UCLA, walked the judge through a series of epidemiology studies conducted over the years that show statistically significant risk factors linking glyphosate to cancer. The literature shows that the risk to individuals considered “routine users” of glyphosate was significant, she testified. When asked if the studies she evaluated show that glyphosate has caused NHL in people, her reply: “Yes, I think they do.”

Dennis Weisenburger, M.D., Chair of the Pathology Department of the City of Hope Medical Center where he specializes in the study of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, described a series of studies that show DNA damage in people exposed to glyphosate, including through aerial spraying. Research shows that both glyphosate and formulations like Roundup cause genetic damage that leads to NHL, he said. In one study, the North American Pooled Project the risk for NHL increased almost twofold for people who used glyphosate more than two days per year.

Alfred Neugut, M.D., Ph.D., a practicing medical oncologist and professor of cancer research, medicine and epidemiology at Columbia University, began his testimony by saying research shows a connection between glyphosate and NHL with great specificity. The consistency in study findings is something that cannot be ignored, he said, as scientists have seen repeated evidence linking glyphosate to NHL. “Every time you look what comes up? Glyphosate and NHL,” said Dr. Neugut.

Charles Jameson, Ph.D., who served as program leader for the National Toxicology Program at NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for 12 years and was a member of the IARC working group that concluded glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen, detailed the body of research that led him to conclude that glyphosate and Roundup can cause NHL at real-world exposure levels that farmers, farm workers and others face when spraying the herbicide. The science showing that glyphosate-based herbicides cause oxidative stress is important, as is the known link to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, he explained

Christopher Portier, Ph.D., who over the course of a lengthy career, has held prominent leadership positions with the U.S. government, including, Associate Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences National Toxicology Program, Director of the National Center for Environmental Health, Center for Disease and Prevention, and Director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, was also an “invited specialist” to the IARC review on glyphosate. “To a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, given the human, animal, and mechanistic evidence, glyphosate probably causes NHL, and the probability that glyphosate causes NHL is high,” he said.

Aaron Blair, Ph.D., the Overall Chair of the IARC glyphosate review, explained how he weighed the totality of the epidemiology studies to support his opinion that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen.

Matthew Ross, Ph.D., part of the mechanism section of the IARC glyphosate review, explained why the strong evidence that glyphosate is genotoxic and causes oxidative stress are relevant to carcinogenicity in humans.

Chadi Nabhan, M.D., F.A.C.P, a board-certified clinical medical oncologist who, until last year, treated approximately 30 lymphoma patients per week, currently serves as Medical Director of Cardinal Health. In his testimony, Dr. Nabhan discussed the process by which IARC determines whether chemicals and substances are carcinogens. The agency has a high bar in consideration for what chemicals or substances it will review, he said. Exposures must be high and the animal data must be strong. Since 1965, IARC has reviewed over 1000 agents and found around 20 percent to be carcinogens. “In my opinion, the [NHL] risk [of exposure to glyphosate] is clinically significant enough that patients should be aware of it,” said Dr. Nabhan. “The IARC report is very convincing.”

Lawsuits reveal Monsanto-EPA collusion

If these experts are all permitted to testify without restriction, the court’s glyphosate-cancer review will be far more rigorous than the EPA’s. This is especially true given what we know now (from evidence uncovered in the lawsuit) about how the EPA’s review has been corrupted by Monsanto.

It all started when EPA scientists saw that a 1983 mouse study provided evidence that glyphosate was carcinogenic. Monsanto managed to convince EPA political appointees to overrule the scientists and declare that the study proved that glyphosate was not carcinogenic. This Orwellian misstatement of the facts continues to be repeated as a mantra by EPA decision-makers still under Monsanto’s sway.

Congress weighs in, attempts to discredit IARC

In February, the U.S. Congress weighed in on the glyphosate-cancer connection. The House Science Committee held a hearing, “In Defense of Scientific Integrity: Examining the IARC Monograph Programme and Glyphosate Review.” For the Republican leaders of the committee, Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Vice Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), the purpose of the hearing was to attempt to discredit WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.

The strategy backfired, as the hearing only stirred public concern over Roundup’s carcinogenicity and Monsanto’s undue influence over EPA decision makers. Chairman Smith’s witnesses were not credible. In fact, they are among the chemical industry’s most notorious shills:

Dr. Timothy Pastoor was identified as “CEO, Pastoor Science Communications.” Until 2015, he worked for Syngenta as Principal Scientist. At Syngenta, he spent his time menacing independent scientists like Dr. Tyrone Hayes, who he threatened to have lynched and even threatened Dr. Hayes’ wife and daughter with sexual violence.

Dr. Robert Tarone was listed a “(retired) mathematical statistician, U.S. National Cancer Institute and Biostatistics Director, International Epidemiology Institute.” In fact, in his “retirement,” Tarone was paid by Monsanto as a consultant to one of the company’s lawyers.

Dr. Anna Lowit was truthfully presented as a senior science adviser at the EPA. What wasn’t mentioned is that documents uncovered in the lawsuits filed by Roundup-exposed cancer victims put Dr. Lowit at the center of EPA-Monsanto collusion. A 2013 letter from EPA toxicologist Marion Copley to Jess Rowlands, the former deputy director in the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) who is currently the subject of an Office of Inspector General investigation, says Dr. Lowit:

. . . intimidated staff on CARC [Cancer Assessment Review Committee] and changed HIARC [Hazard Identification Assessment Review Committee] and HASPOC [Hazard and Science Policy Committee] final reports to favor industry. ... Just promise me to never let Anna on the CARC committee, her decisions don't make rational sense. If anyone at OPP is taking bribes it is her.

Calling a carcinogen a carcinogen

The testimony provided by Drs. Pastoor, Tarone and Lowit’s was particularly untrustworthy compared with the testimonyof Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson’s only witness, Jennifer Sass, Ph.D., senior scientist at the National Resources Defense Council, who said in her testimony:

“This hearing is about the ability of a public health agency to call a carcinogen a carcinogen, even if it makes a huge amount of money for a powerful corporation,” Dr. Sass testified. “Are we willing to sell out the public’s right to know about harmful chemicals in the places we work live, and play, just so that Monsanto Co. can sell more glyphosate?”

The committee’s Democratic members produced a scathing minority report, “Spinning Science & Silencing Scientists: A Case Study in How the Chemical Industry Attempts to Influence Science.” The report outlined the tactics Monsanto has used to suppress scientific evidence that Roundup causes cancer and evade regulation, including secretly ghostwriting scientific journal articles on glyphosate, discrediting critical independent scientists, and discretely paying scientists, journalists and journal editors to do this dirty work.

The most egregious example the report cites is that of A. Wallace (“Wally”) Hayes: Former Editor-in-Chief for Vision and Strategy at Food and Chemical Toxicology. Monsanto paid him $16,000 to retract a study he published by Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini that found that Roundup and genetically modified glyphosate-resistant corn caused tumors in rats—in levels below regulatory limits for food and drinking water. Not only did he do this, he lied about it. According to the report:

Hayes told the New York Times that he had not been under contract with Monsanto at the time of the retraction and was paid by the company only after he left the journal. “Monsanto played no role whatsoever in the decision that was made to retract,” he told the newspaper.

This lie would never have been uncovered if it weren’t for the lawsuits filed on behalf of Roundup-exposed cancer victims that, as the report states, have “revealed hundreds of pages of internal Monsanto e-mails, memorandums, and other records that clearly show Monsanto engaged in a decades-long concerted effort to fend off any evidence suggesting potential adverse human health effects from glyphosate and more recently to undermine IARC’s findings.”

The results of ongoing investigations and court testimony will likely undermine the legitimacy of the EPA’s decision, should it approve glyphosate. As consumers whose food supply is contaminated with glyphosate, we need to keep up the pressure on the EPA, regardless of Pruitt’s ties to Monsanto.

TAKE ACTION! Tell the EPA: Ban Monsanto’s carcinogenic glyphosate-based Roundup weedkiller! Please add your own comments, especially if you or your loved-ones have been sickened by exposure to glyphosate.

Alexis Baden-Mayer is political director for the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). Sign up here for news and alerts from OCA.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

EU COMMITS TO A TRANSPARENT, PESTICIDE-FREE FUTURE


Glyphosate: Commission responds to European Citizens' Initiative and announces more transparency in scientific assessments

European Commission logo

Strasbourg, 12 December 2017
Glyphosate: Commission responds to European Citizens' Initiative and announces more transparency in scientific assessments
With the Communication adopted today, the Commission replies to the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) "Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides" and commits to presenting a legislative proposal in 2018, to further increase the transparency and quality of studies used in the scientific assessment of substances.
In responding to the European Citizens' Initiative, the European Commission addresses the concerns of EU citizens and announces measures to make the process to authorise, restrict or ban the use of pesticides more transparent in the future.
Today's Communication sets out the way forward:
  • In replying to the Citizens' Initiative, it provides a detailed explanation of EU rules on pesticides;
  • It announces a legislative proposal for spring 2018 to enhance the transparency, quality and independence of scientific assessments of substances, such as public access to raw data, and;
  • It announces future amendments to the legislation to strengthen the governance of the conduct of relevant studies, which could include for example the involvement of public authorities in the process of deciding which studies need to be conducted for a specific case.
In addition, and following a thorough scientific assessment of all available data on glyphosate concluding that there is no link between glyphosate and cancer in humans, and a positive vote by Member States' representatives on 27 November 2017[1], the Commission today adopted a renewal of the approval of glyphosate for 5 years. While 15 years is the period that the Commission usually proposes for authorisations when all approval criteria are met, glyphosate is no routine case. This issue has been discussed several times by the Commission that has been working during the last months towards a decision which gathers the broadest possible support by Member States, while ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment in line with EU legislation. The Commission's final proposal for a 5 year renewal took also into account the latest non-binding Resolutions adopted by the European Parliament.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "It's great that well over a million EU citizens have invested their time to engage directly on an issue that matters. The Commission has listened and will now act. We need more transparency about how decisions are made in this area. Next spring the Commission will also deliver proposals on drinking water we promised in response to another successful Initiative. In sum, I am a strong supporter of the right of citizens to engage in this manner and am pressing the Parliament and Council to make speedy progress on our proposals to make it easier for European Citizens' Initiatives to be successful in the future."
Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: "From the beginning of my mandate I have been a strong supporter of increased transparency in decision-making as well as in the terms of access to the scientific studies underlying the approval of active substances. I will put forward a proposal to address these issues by spring 2018. However it is equally important that Member States assume their responsibility when it comes to the authorisation of pesticides in their own markets. They must also ensure that pesticides are used sustainably and in full compliance with label requirements. Transparency, independence, and sustainable use of pesticides are our objectives. They should underpin our work and this is where my focus will be".
The Commission's reply to the three requests of the ECI:
1. “Ban glyphosate-based herbicides, exposure to which has been linked to cancer in humans, and has led to ecosystems degradation”:
Member States are responsible for the authorisation, use and/or ban of glyphosate-based products on their territories. In the EU, only substances for which there is objective evidence of safe use are approved. Following a thorough scientific assessment of all available data on glyphosate concluding that there is no link between glyphosate and cancer in humans, and a positive vote by Member States' representatives on 27 November 2017, the Commission today adopted a renewal of the approval of glyphosate for 5 years.President Juncker put this issue on the College agenda on several occasions, to ensure full political ownership by the Commission. Based on these political discussions, and taking account of the position of the European Parliament, the Commission decided to reduce the length of the proposed renewal from the standard 15 years to 5 years, which also ensured the widest possible support from Member States.
2. “Ensure that the scientific evaluation of pesticides for EU regulatory approval is based only on published studies, which are commissioned by competent public authorities instead of the pesticide industry”:
The Commission fully agrees that transparency in scientific assessments and decision-making is vital to ensuring trust in the food safety regulatory system. Maintaining and improving a strong, transparent and independent scientific assessment is crucial. The Commission will put forward a legislative proposal in 2018 covering these and other relevant aspects such as the governance of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA),by spring 2018. The Commission will propose to change the current rules to make sure that scientific studies are publicly available. Citizens must be able to understand how such far-reaching decisions to authorise or ban certain substances are taken. Political responsibility and greater transparency are two sides of the same coin.  
3. “Set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use, with a view to achieving a pesticide-free future”:
EU policy is already directed towards reducing dependency on pesticides and achieving a pesticide-free future as requested by the European Citizens' Initiative. The Commission will strive to ensure that Member States comply with their obligations under the Sustainable Use Directive and reduce dependency on pesticides. Member States have also been invited to establish more precise and measureable targets in their National Action Plans. In addition, in order to monitor trends in risk reduction from pesticide use at EU level, the Commission will establish harmonised risk indicatorson top of the existing national risk indicators. These would enable the Commission to determine the effectiveness of measures when assessing future policy options. The Commission will re-evaluate the situation on the basis of the resulting data and assess the need for EU-wide mandatory targets for pesticides.
Next steps:
-   On the preparation of a legislative proposal: In January 2018, a report will be published on the Fitness Check of General Food Law which will take stock of the legislation in place. A public consultation will also be launched to feed into the preparation of the proposal to be presented by spring 2018.
-   On a more sustainable use of pesticides, the Commission will follow-up with the Member States on the basis of a report published last October.
Background:
The procedure for the renewal of the approval of the active substance glyphosate generated a great deal of interest and a broader debate on the authorisation and use of pesticides in the EU. On 27 November 2017, Member States voted in favour of the Commission's proposal for a 5 year renewal of the approval.
On the request of President Juncker, the issue has been discussed several times by the College of Commissioners. The Commission has been working towards a decision which gathers the broadest possible support by Member States, while ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment in line with EU legislation. It followed a comprehensive and transparent scientific process, where more than 6.000 pages of scientific assessment were made public.
While 15 years is the period that the Commission usually proposes for authorisations when all approval criteria are met, glyphosate is no routine case. Other legitimate factors were taken into consideration when setting the appropriate period for renewal, such as the fact that additional information on the substance is being published at a high rate. Moreover, the Commission's final proposal for a 5 year renewal took into account the latest non-binding Resolutions adopted by the European Parliament. The decision formally adopted today, also carefully considered the European Citizens' Initiative "Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides".
Already at the beginning of his mandate, President Juncker announced that governing by abstention is not an option and proposed changing the so-called comitology rules in order to enhance transparency about the positions taken by Member States and ensure more political accountability in the decision making process for our citizens.
 For more information:
All documents, including the related decisions adopted today by the Commission, will be available here.
Follow us on Twitter: @Food_EU
 [1]Appeal Committee on 27 November 2017, a positive opinion was reached with Member States, 18 of them (65.71% of the EU's population) voting in favour of the renewal, 9 (32.26%) against and 1 (2.02%) abstaining.