Saturday, February 25, 2012


Agent OrangeMonsanto Reaches 'Agent Orange' Settlement With US Victims

Residents living near a now defunct Monsanto plant in Nitro, West Virginia demand cleanup of toxic legacy

- Common Dreams staff
Reports indicate that Monsanto has reached a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought by US residents who say they were poisoned by chemicals used in the manufacturing of the Agent Orange in their town of Nitro, West Virginia.
The Guardian reports:
The long-running suit was brought by residents living near a now defunct Monsanto plant in Nitro, West Virginia that between 1949 and 1971 produced the agricultural herbicide 2,4,5 trichlorophenoxyacidic acid, a key ingredient in Agent Orange. [...]
The suit – filed on behalf of tens of thousands of people who lived, worked and went to school in Nitro after 1949 – claims that Monsanto spread toxic substances including dioxins, which have been linked to cancer, all over the town.
The plaintiffs say they were exposed to levels of dioxins 100,000 times higher than acceptable levels. "Dioxin is a known human carcinogen and is so hazardous to human health that no "safe" level of exposure has been established," the suit claims.
It demands ongoing testing for at least 5,000 people who may have been affected by exposure to hazardous chemicals.
The Charleston Gazette reports that the judge in the case, Judge Derek Swope, had raised some questions about the agreement including concerns the man Monsanto suggested administer the medical monitoring program is a former defense expert for the company.
The Charleston Gazette adds:
If a settlement is not agreed upon on Friday, a more extensive jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday, Swope said. Six jurors and six alternates would have to be selected out of the 28-person jury pool.
Mediation efforts last October and December failed to produce a settlement.
Swope warned lawyers on Thursday that a gag order, preventing lawyers from talking with the press about the case, is still being strictly enforced. The judge sealed all documents pertaining to the proposed settlement. He would not talk to a reporter after Thursday's hearing.
Monsanto vows $93M to Nitro residents
Medical tests, house cleanup part of class-action settlement

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Chemical giant Monsanto has agreed to pay millions of dollars to test thousands of current and former Nitro residents for disease and to clean up their homes.
Under the tentative agreement to a huge class-action lawsuit, Monsanto will provide class-members up to $93 million. The company has agreed to a 30-year medical monitoring program with a primary fund of $21 million for testing, and up to $63 million in additional funding, if necessary.
Monsanto also will pay $9 million for professional services to have class members' homes cleaned. It also has agreed to pay court-approved legal fees incurred over the past seven years.
Circuit Judge Derek Swope mentioned the proposed settlement in a hearing Thursday in Putnam Circuit Court, and the agreement was officially announced in court Friday.
In their huge class-action lawsuit filed in 2004, Nitro residents said Monsanto unsafely burned dioxin wastes and spread contaminated soot and dust across the city, polluting homes with unsafe levels of the chemical.
The residents' lawsuit sought medical monitoring for at least 5,000 - and perhaps as many as 80,000 -- current and former Nitro residents.
For more than 50 years, the Monsanto plant churned out herbicides, rubber products and other chemicals. The plant's production of the defoliant Agent Orange created dioxin as a toxic chemical byproduct.
On Friday, Swope approved the proposed settlement, which he said lawyers had worked on until 1 a.m. that morning.
Charleston lawyer Thomas Urban, who represents some Nitro residents, filed a motion Friday after the hearing, raising questions about the sufficiency of the settlement.
Among other things, Urban asked why the settlement sets a $9 million amount for cleanup, when an expert for the residents said cleanup could cost between $945 million and $3.82 billion.

Friday, February 24, 2012


What Are You Eating This Monday??
The Food Movement Speaks With one Voice: Occupy our Food Supply – International Actions Monday February 27, 2012!
Willie Nelson, Anna Lappe, Vandana Shiva, Michael Pollan, Raj Patel, Marion Nestle and Many Others Join 60+ Occupy Groups and 30+ Environmental and Food Groups for Global Day of Action

“On this day, in New York City, community gardeners, activists, labor unions, farmers, food workers, and citizens of the NYC metro area, will gather at Zuccotti Park at noon, for a Seed Exchange, to raise awareness about the corporate control of our food system and celebrate the local food communities in the metro area.”

See list of supporting organizations and individuals below. For more information on the events planned for Occupy our Food Supply, visit www.occupyourfoodsupply.orgRainforest Action Network
Here are a few highlights on our food system today:
§  Over 30 nations mandate labeling of GMO (genetically modified organisms, a.k.a. GE, genetically engineered) ingredients in food products. The UNITED STATES is NOT one of them! WHY??? Just Label It Campain:
§  Livestock antibiotics are now linked with “superbugs.” We now have a smoking gun! NPR reported on it first; here’s their take: A study in the journal mBio, published by the American Society for Microbiology, shows how an antibiotic-susceptible staph germ passed from humans into pigs, where it became resistant to the antibiotics tetracycline and methicillin. And then the antibiotic-resistant staph learned to jump back into humans. The FDA just announced that it will trust companies to voluntarily control agricultural antibiotics and this study is unlikely to change their minds.
§  Today, three companies process more than 70 percent of all U.S. beef, Tyson, Cargill and JBS.[1] More than ninety percent of soybean seeds and 80 percent of corn seeds used in the United States are sold by just one company: Monsanto. Four companies are responsible for up to 90 percent of the global trade in grain. And one in four food dollars is spent at Walmart.
§  Hundreds of millions of tons of deadly pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers are being dumped on our food, most of which runs off into the soil, air and waterways, due largely to industrial agriculture.

CONTACT: Rainforest Action Network (RAN)
Sam Haswell
Communications Director
(415) 659-0519    Find Actions near you: