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Monsanto's Global Pollution Legacy

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Do we really want to eat food created by Monsanto, and sprayed with Monsanto's chemicals? Before we take another bite, a bit of research is in order.

This is the first sentence of the Monsanto Pledge, taken from

"We want to make the world a better place for future generations."

Really? This sounds so good. Environmentally responsible people looking out for the good of humanity. However, I believe that no matter what is said, we can judge the fruit of this company by its actions. Please read the following article from SourceWatch, and judge for yourself if Monsanto's" claim that "a healthy, sustainable environment is important to our business" is true, or just another Public Relations spin.


From SourceWatch

In the 1930's Monsanto bought the company that invented PCBs and became the source of all PCBs in the United States. [1] (PCBs) is the acronym for Polychlorinated biphenyls which are complex chlorinated compounds [2].

In the Washington Post article (Jan 1, 2002) "Monsanto Hid Decades Of Pollution PCBs Drenched Ala. Town, But No One Was Ever Told" a grim story of Monsanto's treacherous behavior in Anniston Alabama was revealed. It is summed up in this chilling paragraph: "They also know that for nearly 40 years, while producing the now-banned industrial coolants known as PCBs at a local factory, Monsanto Co. routinely discharged toxic waste into a west Anniston creek and dumped millions of pounds of PCBs into oozing open-pit landfills. And thousands of pages of Monsanto documents -- many emblazoned with warnings such as "CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy" -- show that for decades, the corporate giant concealed what it did and what it knew." [3] [4]

Anniston Alabama

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"On the west side of Anniston, the poor side of Anniston, the people ate dirt. They called it "Alabama clay" and cooked it for extra flavor. They also grew berries in their gardens, raised hogs in their back yards, caught bass in the murky streams where their children swam and played and were baptized. They didn't know their dirt and yards and bass and kids -- along with the acrid air they breathed -- were all contaminated with chemicals. They didn't know they lived in one of the most polluted patches of America."

"In 1966, Monsanto managers discovered that fish submerged in that creek turned belly-up within 10 seconds, spurting blood and shedding skin as if dunked into boiling water. They told no one. In 1969, they found fish in another creek with 7,500 times the legal PCB levels. They decided "there is little object in going to expensive extremes in limiting discharges.""

"Sylvester Harris, 63, an undertaker who lived across the street from the plant, said he always thought he was burying too many young children. 'I knew something was wrong around here,' he said."

The article must have been a severe blow to Monsanto PR since it had previously stated in response to a 1994 Sierra magazine article [5] that "Monsanto has never concealed any hazard of PCBs" and "Claims of 'cover-ups' and 'sacrificing "life itself" to corporate profits' are untrue and out of touch with Monsanto's way of doing business" [6]. This comment makes sense in light of a 1969 Monsanto directive to "a committee the company formed to address controversies about PCBs", it was to have "only two formal objectives: 'Permit continued sales and profits' and 'protect image of . . . the corporation'" [7] (1). "We can't afford to lose one dollar of business" an internal memo concluded [8]. The next year Monsanto secretly agreed that "any written effluent level reports [on PCBs] would be held confidential by the Technical Staff and would not be available to the public until or unless Monsanto released it" [9]. And that was apparently the final word because nothing changed for decades. According to the WP article the public did not become fully aware of the problem until 1993 when, "after a local angler caught deformed largemouth bass [in a local creek] ... the first advisories against eating fish from the area" were issued. This was "27 years after Monsanto learned about those bluegills sliding out of their skins". Monsanto's PCB monopoly had been netting them $22 million dollars a year.

"Today, parts of Anniston are so contaminated that residents have been told not to grow vegetables in the soil, kick up dirt, eat food, chew gum or smoke cigarettes while working in their yards. 'Our children have to play in the streets, on the sidewalks, because they can't play in the grass because it's contaminated,' says resident David Baker. 'We have to wear masks if we cut our grass. Where else in the United States of America are people doing that?'"

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"In my judgment, there's no question this is the most contaminated site in the U.S.," says Dr. David Carpenter, a professor of environmental health at the State University of New York in Albany. [10].

Over twenty thousand Anniston residents were part of the suit which resulted in a $700 million fine. On February 22, 2002, Monsanto was found guilty of "negligence, wantonness, suppression of truth, nuisance, trespass, and outrage." Under Alabama law, the rare claim of outrage requires conduct "so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency so as to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in civilized society". The settlement of the case, however, included "no admissions of wrongdoing" by Monsanto [11].

By the way, Monsanto also callously dumped 40 to 50 tons of mercury, and possibly also lead, down company storm sewers the Anniston Star investigative reporting found [12] [13].

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Barbara H. Peterson is retired from the California Department of Corrections, where she worked as a Correctional Officer at Folsom Prison. She was one of the first females to work at the facility in this classification. After retirement, she went to (more...)

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Monsanto history proves it does not care about it&... by Rolland Miller on Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009 at 6:38:52 PM
But they're so concerned about their image. A Fre... by Dave Kisor on Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 2:47:16 AM
All the info in one spot, I am sending it to every... by amicus curiae on Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 12:02:37 AM
Barb,If what you publish, nearly daily it seems, i... by Jim Johnson on Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 8:18:47 AM
...when the PCBs are all gone from the planet'... by Jennifer Hathaway on Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 12:55:35 PM
But that would require an admission of wrongdoing,... by Barbara Peterson on Friday, May 1, 2009 at 3:20:38 AM
Brad Mitchell at Monsanto is waiting and seeing be... by Michael Lusk on Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 11:14:13 AM
Jim Johnson is a mid-level employee that works for... by Jim Johnson on Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 4:11:10 PM
I literally wanted to throw up reading this.As a r... by Jennifer Hathaway on Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 12:53:15 PM
A truly extraordinary variety of alternatives to c... by Robert Wager on Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 8:49:06 PM can these fine people doing this fine resea... by Jennifer Hathaway on Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 2:53:28 PM
Doesn't surprise me in the least.  I ... by gail combs on Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 1:21:38 PM