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Monsanto knew of grave health risks from toxic PCB chemicals it sold for years before ban, docs say

RT | August 9, 2017

Monsanto used toxic industrial chemicals known as PCBs in the production of everyday appliances such as TVs, fridges and plastics for at least eight years after discovering the harm they did, newly-compiled archives claim to prove.

From the 1930s, and until the end of their distribution in 1977, Monsanto was the dominant US producer of the chemicals.

Now a trove of 20,000 documents, dubbed the “Poison Papers,” gathered from regulators, lawsuits and archives by campaigners and scientists, claims that the Missouri-headquartered company openly discussed the environmental and health impact of PCBs.

“If authentic, these records confirm that Monsanto knew that their PCBs were harmful and pervasive in the environment, and kept selling them in spite of that fact. They knew the dangers, but hid them from the public in order to profit,” Bill Sherman, the assistant attorney general for the state of Washington, which is suing the company, told the Guardian.

Several cities in the Pacific Northwest, including Seattle, and multiple municipalities in California, such as San Diego and San Jose, are also currently pursuing legal action against Monsanto.

As far back as 1969, an internal policy document admitted “damage to the ecological system by contamination from PCBs,” and stated that “evidence proving the persistence of these compounds and their universal presence in the environment is beyond questioning.”

The non-biodegradable nature of PCBs, which are still found both in water and in soil worldwide, has since turned out to be one of its most serious legacies.

“Direct lawsuits are possible… because customers using the products have not been officially notified about known effects nor do our labels carry this information,” read the assessment. At the end of the document, the author provides Monsanto with three solutions: Do Nothing (“poor customer relations” and “potential loss of business”), Discontinue Manufacture (“not that simple”) and presumably the option the company chose: Respond responsibly by phasing out the product (“maximizing the corporate image by publicizing this fact”).

“At the end of the day, Monsanto went for the profits instead of for public health and environmental safety,” said Sherman.

Notably, the company admitted in its internal documents that PCBs were “highly toxic” to birds, and in 1975 noted that they can have “permanent effects on the human body.”

Yet, it challenged government findings of toxicity, and said in a memo to “let govt prove its case on a case by case basis.”

Monsanto argues that it was an industrial leader in curtailing the use of PCBs – stopping their sale in applications where they could leak in 1972, and discontinuing their retail altogether two years before the 1979 ban.

“More than 40 years ago, the former Monsanto voluntarily stopped production and sale of PCBs prior to any federal requirement to do so,” Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy, Scott Partridge, told the Guardian. He stressed though that back then, the product was legal and hence the company “has no liability for pollution caused by those who used or discharged PCBs into the environment.”

Human contact with increasing quantities of PCBs is linked to a host of negative outcomes, from cancers, to neurological damage and sterility. PCBs were responsible for two mass food contamination events, in Japan in 1968 and in Taiwan in 1979, as well as a scandal over an alleged cover-up of a contamination in Belgium in 1999, which is thought to have brought down the incumbent government.

Monsanto, which has been the target of high-profile public protests for decades, is currently besieged by several high-profile class action lawsuits over the carcinogenic properties of its weedkiller Roundup, which has been banned in several European countries, and the lengths to which it purportedly went to manipulate academic, regulatory and media coverage of the glyphosate-based bestseller. The company is awaiting EU approval for its $66 billion takeover by German chemical giant Bayer, which could result in the elimination of the Monsanto brand, which has become synonymous with various controversial industrial practices.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism | , | Leave a comment

Washington state sues Monsanto over ‘omnipresent and terrifically toxic material’

RT | December 9, 2016

PCB pollution is in “every waterway in the state,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said as he announced a lawsuit against Monsanto. It is the first time the agricultural biotech giant has ever been sued by a state.

Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, have been at the heart of multiple lawsuits brought against the multinational agrochemical corporation Monsanto by Seattle and Spokane, Washington, as well as cities in California and Oregon. However, this Thursday marked the first time a state government has sued the company over the potentially carcinogenic chemicals.

The lawsuit, which seeks monetary restitution for damages and cleanup caused by the use of PCBs, was filed in King County Superior Court. Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) and the state’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson jointly announced the lawsuit in a press conference, claiming that Monsanto knew for years that it was polluting bays, lakes and rivers when it used the chemicals in coolants, hydraulic fluids, paints and sealants, Associated Press reported.

A win for the state could potentially reap hundreds of millions of dollars from Monsanto as well as two subsidiaries, Solutia Inc. and Pharmacia LLC.

Monsanto quit using PCBs when Congress banned them in 1979, but many say the damage had already been done and the chemicals’ impact are still felt today. From 1935 to 1979, Monsanto was the only company to produce PCBs, described by Ferguson as “one of the most pervasive pollutants in history,” the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

Inslee called the chemicals “omnipresent and terrifically toxic,” adding that “one of the highest recorded [PCB concentrations] for any place on Earth” was in Washington’s southern resident orca population, according to the Post-Intelligencer.

The US Environmental Protection Agency classifies PCBs as a likely human carcinogen that also pose a risk of severe damage to the endocrine, immune, nervous and reproductive systems. Washington state’s Department of Health posted 13 different advisories against fish consumption due to risks of PCB pollution. Seattle’s Duwamish River is an EPA Superfund cleanup site, and one of its hazardous contaminants is PCB.

“Monsanto is responsible for producing a chemical that is so widespread in our environment that it appears virtually everywhere we look – in our waterways, in people and in fish – at levels that can impact our health,” Inslee said at the Thursday press conference, the Post-Intelligencer reported.

During the presser, Ferguson reportedly quoted from an internal Monsanto memo from 1937, which acknowledged lengthy exposure to PCB vapors having “systemic toxic effects.” Ferguson cited other records as well, charging that the corporation hid this sort of information from the public even though it knew of global PCB pollution in the 1960s.

Read more:

Monsanto’s ‘less-volatile’ dicamba herbicide receives quiet EPA approval

December 10, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism | , , | Leave a comment

Prominent Latin American Scientists Say Bill Gates’ Golden Rice Is a Total Failure

By Christina Sarich | Underground Reporter | September 27, 2016

Nobel Laureates who have been pushing the genetically modified organism agenda deep into scientific circles are being lambasted by a group called the Union of Latin American Scientists Committed to Society and Nature (UCCSN-AL).

A whopping third of Nobel laureates recently slammed Greenpeace for its anti-GM campaign, claiming that the issues which Greenpeace has highlighted “misrepresent the risks, benefits, and impacts” of genetically altered plants.

The UCCSN-AL thinks we should be aware of the true aims of companies like Bayer, Monsanto, Syngenta, and Dow Agrochemical, and others, even with glowing reviews from signatories who make GM-promoting claims without data to back them up.

Whether the public at large will take any anti-GM advice based simply on the Nobel pedigree remains to be seen, especially considering that email trails recently revealed that many high-level professors at universities and scientific journals were either bribed or funded by Dow, Syngenta, Monsanto, Bayer AG, and other chemical-ag champions.

The public reprimand against these laureates concerns transgenic crops, and ‘Golden Rice,’ a highly touted Gates Foundation experiment which has been proven to be deceptive in its claims to help feed the world and stop Vitamin A deficits in poor populations. Truly, if the aim of the Gates Foundation and other corporations was to stop hunger and end vitamin deficiency, why would they continue to patent crops which have been shown to have lower levels of the vitamins and essential minerals that humans need for better health? Many transgenic crops are known as chelators of important minerals from the soil itself.

The Gates’ argue,

“The foundation is supporting the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and partners to develop Golden Rice, a type of rice that contains beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. This grant builds on previous foundation funding, and supports a range of activities to develop Golden Rice varieties that are suited for the Philippines and Bangladesh. It is hoped that Golden Rice will help improve the health of millions of children and adults across the Philippines and Bangladesh.”

However, detractors attest that a simple Vitamin A supplement would be cheaper, easier to provide, and would not require patented, transgenic seed. There is also the suspicion that since rice is a staple food in more than two thirds of the world, that the monopolization by genetically modified rice seed would obliterate ancient varieties, making farmers and those they feed reliant upon GM companies for food.

Similarly, 59 varieties of indigenous corn were recently put at risk in Mexico by the same type of campaign to push ‘much needed GM food’ onto people who were already feeding themselves without it.

The UCCSN-AL states in reference to these transgenic crops,

“[Transgenesis] cannot be considered an advanced science anymore because it is based on fallacious and anachronistic assumptions. Its defenders have oversimplified the scientific rationale behind GMOs to the point that the technology cannot be considered valid anymore: they have discarded rigorous science. The lack of scientific ground that justifies GMOs is also the reason why its promoters deny complex systems of knowledge, such as indigenous peoples’ cultures and livelihoods. Transgenic technology is the geopolitical instrument for colonial domination of our time.

The UCCSN-AL continues,

“Scientific work must be developed with ethical responsibility and it must be committed to nature and society, and because of that, we reject the concepts stated in the letter and denounce the genocidal role of industrial farming based on GM crops, and we stress the need to defend, promote, and multiply the modes of food production that were culturally developed by the peoples of our region, and therefore are vital to ensure autonomy, environmental sustainability, safety and food sovereignty.”

Furthermore, the premise upon which Golden Rice was developed is provably false. Most genetically modified crops are grown to feed animal livestock and corn ethanol as a subsidized ‘alternative’ fuel for oil companies. These crops aren’t being developed to feed the world, but to feed the greed of elite corporate families which have no interest in whether a child in Bangladesh goes blind, or a food production system robs indigenous groups of ancient farming techniques which yield bumper crops of non-GM food.

If you want an autonomously-fed society, you don’t give them Golden Rice. A thousand Nobel winners that have been paid by the industry to say GMOs are good, likely won’t sway indigenous farmers away from their current opinion.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Glyphosate and Atrazine: EPA posts, then retracts, reports on top herbicide chemicals

RT | May 6, 2016

The EPA recently posted online reports on two disputed herbicide chemicals, only to pull them offline shortly afterwards. The reports said glyphosate was not a human carcinogen and atrazine caused reproductive harm to mammals.

On April 29, the EPA’s cancer assessment review committee (CARC) posted an 86-page report on the agency’s website that stated glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer that was deemed a “probable” human carcinogen by the World Health Organization last year, “was not likely to be carcinogenic to humans,” Reuters reported.

On May 2, the EPA pulled the report offline, saying the action was taken “because our assessment is not final,” and that the “preliminary” documents were “inadvertently” published.

“EPA has not completed our cancer review,” the EPA told Reuters. “We will look at the work of other governments as well as work by (the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’) Agricultural Health Study as we move to make a decision on glyphosate.”

However, the cover page of the documents was titled “final Cancer Assessment Document,” Reuters reported, and the word “FINAL” was printed on each page of the report, dated October 1, 2015. The EPA said the assessment — part of the first comprehensive safety review of the chemical since 1993, which will determine glyphosate use in the US over the next 15 years — will be complete by the end of 2016.

Critics of glyphosate ridiculed the EPA for its short-lived assessment, while the chemical’s supporters, including agribusiness giant Monsanto, hailed the report for endorsing glyphosate’s safety. Monsanto even posted a copy of it on its website.

“Pulling the report indicates lack of confidence in the outcome,” tweeted Nathan Donley, a scientist for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Can’t blame them, the analysis is terrible.”

The glyphosate documents indicated that the EPA was “relying heavily on unpublished, industry funded studies” in its assessment that glyphosate is not a human carcinogen, the Center for Biological Diversity said. In contrast, the World Health Organization’s view that glyphosate is a “likely” human carcinogen included studies that were publicly available and that took into account consumer products.

“All they’re doing is reviewing studies that are funded by the industry,” Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at Natural Resources Defense Council, told Reuters.

In 1974, Monsanto began selling the chemical in Roundup, which has become a top bioicide for farming, especially involving genetically-engineered crops, and home and garden uses.

“No pesticide regulator in the world considers glyphosate to be a carcinogen, and this conclusion by the U.S. EPA once again reinforces this important fact,” said Hugh Grant, Monsanto’s CEO.

The use of glyphosate in herbicides has increased by more than 250 times in the United States over the last 40 years, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Long-term exposure to glyphosate has been linked to kidney and liver damage, as well as cellular and genetic diseases. Monsanto and defenders of glyphosate use called the World Health Organization’s carcinogen classification too “dramatic” and have pointed to assurances that the chemical is safe.

In April, the European Parliament approved the seven-year reauthorization of glyphosate, though it recommended the chemical should be used only by professionals and not in public places.


Around the same time it pulled the glyphosate assessment off its website, the EPA similarly published and retracted a less-flattering report on the herbicide atrazine, which was banned in Europe in 2004. Atrazine is legal in the US, where it is second only to glyphosate among most-used agricultural herbicides.

Atrazine is manufactured by agrochemical corporation Syngenta. At least 60 million pounds of the chemical is used in the US each year, mainly on corn fields, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. US agencies and other researchers have found high levels of atrazine in groundwater and drinking water near agricultural and rural areas. Atrazine is known to be an endocrine disruptor and has been linked to hormonal defects and some types of cancer in humans.

On April 29, an EPA assessment on atrazine was posted on the agency’s website but subsequently taken down. The documents are available here. The assessment said atrazine was found to cause reproductive harm to birds and mammals, exceeding by 200 times the EPA’s “levels of concern.” Amphibians were found to be especially at-risk from atrazine exposure, echoing research by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, who found that about three-quarters of male frogs are castrated by the chemical.

“When the amount of atrazine allowed in our drinking water is high enough to turn a male tadpole into a female frog, then our regulatory system has failed us,” said Donley, the Center for Biological Diversity scientist. “We’ve reached a point with atrazine where more scientific analysis is just unnecessary — atrazine needs to be banned now.”

Like glyphosate, atrazine is undergoing a 15-year safety review by the EPA. The previous of such assessments on atrazine occurred in 2003.

Syngenta, atrazine’s maker, touts the chemical’s safety on its website, claiming it is not “physically possible to dissolve enough atrazine in water to have any impact on hormones or human health.”

“No one has, ever will, or ever could be exposed to enough atrazine in the natural environment to affect their reproductive health,” the chemical giant says.

Read more:

Quaker Oats sued for use of glyphosate in ‘100% natural’ products

May 6, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , | Leave a comment

Syngenta and the Chinese Factor

By Carmelo Ruiz | CounterPunch | January 28, 2016

Monsanto, the US-based biotech and agribusiness colossus, is seeking a merger with its European competitor Syngenta. Such a transaction would create a gargantuan corporation that would control 45% of the world’s commercial seeds and 30% of the farm chemicals market. This is a time of major mergers in the ag sector. The largest of these took place last November, when two of the largest US players, Dow and Dupont, agreed to merge. The resulting spawn of both will have no less than 25% of the world commercial seed market.

The much-talked about Monsanto-Syngenta merger is likely but not inevitable. Monsanto began 2016 with its third buyout offer to the European corporation in less than a year. Syngenta’s management announced it will not decide on Monsanto’s latest bid right away because it is considering other offers. In a conference in Switzerland in mid-January, company chairman Michael Demare said it is evaluating proposals from German companies BASF and Bayer, which are also world leaders in the agricultural biotech and pesticide sectors, and from ChemChina.

Although not very well known in North America and Europe, the Chinese state-owned ChemChina is one mammoth of a corporation. With $45.6 billion in annual revenues and some 140,000 employees, it ranks 265th in the Fortune 500 index.

“ChemChina became a pesticide powerhouse in 2011 when its subsidiary, China National Agrochemical Corporation, acquired Makhteshim Agan Industries (Israel), the world’s 7th largest pesticide manufacturer, and became ADAMA”, said the Canada-based ETC Group. “With revenues over $3 billion in 2013, ADAMA sells generic pesticide products in more than 120 countries… ADAMA’s largest market is Europe (37%), followed by Latin America (25%).” (Parentheses in original)

ChemChina’s interests go way beyond agrochemicals. Last year it acquired Italy’s Pirelli, one of the world’s leading tire manufacturers, for $7.9 billion. Its other major purchases include French firms Adisseo and Rhodia, Australia’s Qenos, Norwegian silicon maker Elkem, German machinery maker Krauss Maffee, and 12% of Swiss energy trader Mercuria.

ChemChina is headed by the flamboyant Ren Jianxin, a high-ranking Communist Youth League member who took the unusual step of going into business rather than politics. “Over three decades, Ren has led the restructuring of China’s chemicals industry, organizing more than 100 firms under the ChemChina banner into six main operating divisions, producing everything from basic chemicals to fertilizers and silicones”, said Reuters. Ren recently hired Bayer director Michael Koenig to run one of ChemChina’s subsidiaries, a move that raised eyebrows since state-owned companies very rarely ever hire foreigners to executive positions.

The company is also looking to expand its presence in the domestic market. A merger with Syngenta would turn ChemChina into the country’s top pesticide company. This is no small undertaking, given that China is the world’s third largest pesticide market, after the US and Brazil. If foreign agrochemical companies were to be interested in investing in China’s vast market they would find themselves squeezed into a minor corner by a gigantic Syngenta-ChemChina combination.

ChemChina’s ambitions are part of a larger story. Chinese food and agriculture companies are moving abroad and starting to compete toe to toe with their Western counterparts and even buying them out. In 2013, China’s Shuanghui corporation bought Smithfield, the leading US pork company, for $7.1 billion, the largest ever purchase of a US company by Chinese investors.

Another Chinese company to watch is COFCO, the country’s leading food processor, which acquired a controlling stake in the Netherlands’ agricultural commodity trader Nidera. The majority stake in Nidera would give COFCO greater control over pricing and better access to Latin America and Russia, important grain-growing regions, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2014.

So what happens if ChemChina beats Monsanto to the Syngenta finish line? The Missouri-based company, which has been hitting hard times in the recent months, may end up trampled and squashed, unable to compete with a Dow-Dupont and a Syngenta-ChemChina.

According to the ETC Group: “No matter which mergers/acquisitions ultimately materialize, there’s little doubt that the infamous Monsanto name will soon be history.”


Owen Covington. “Syngenta board reportedly supports pursuing ChemChina deal” Triad Business Journal, January 19 2016.

ETC Group. “Breaking Bad: Big Ag Mega-Mergers in Play” December 15 2015.

Financial Times. “ChemChina closes in on another prize purchase”

Sophie Song. “China State-Owned Food Giant COFCO Corporation Spends Billions Buying Nidera” International Business Times, February 28 2014.

Carmelo Ruiz is a Puerto Rican author and journalist currently living in Ecuador. His Twitter ID is @carmeloruiz.

January 28, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Seattle sues Monsanto over chemical contamination of river

RT | January 26, 2016

The City of Seattle is suing Monsanto over allegations that the agrochemical giant polluted the Lower Duwamish River and city drainage pipes, becoming the sixth city to file a lawsuit against the company.

The complaint was filed in federal court on Monday by two firms, Baron & Budd and Gomez Trial Attorneys, on behalf of Seattle. The lawsuit claims that the industrialized Lower Duwamish River was contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and that Monsanto continued to produce the chemicals despite knowing about the health and environmental risks that they pose.

“Long after the dangers of PCBs were widely known, Monsanto continued its practice of protecting its business interests at our expense,” City Attorney Pete Holmes said in a statement. “The City intends to hold Monsanto accountable for the damage its product wreaked on our environment.”

Monsanto produced PCBs – chemical compounds used in applications such as paints, caulks, electrical equipment and building materials – in the United States from the early 1930s until the late 1970s, when Congress banned their production over worries about health.

Seattle’s suit contends that Monsanto concealed information that the chemicals were “a global contaminant,” and in fact increased PCB production after the company found out about the extent of their polluting qualities.

PCBs have been detected in 82 percent of drainage pipes in the Lower Duwamish drainage basin. The chemicals are associated with cancer, nervous system illness and reproductive illnesses in humans, and can lead to the destruction of fish habitats.

Seattle is the sixth city to file a suit against Monsanto for PCB contamination, joining the California  cities of San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley and San Diego in California, as well as fellow the Washington city of Spokane

The Lower Duwamish is considered an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site, meaning that it is so polluted that the federal government has stepped in to help with cleanup. The EPA estimates that the final cost of all cleanup efforts in the river will cost $342 million, according to The Stranger.

“The City will incur significant costs to remove PCBs from stormwater and wastewater effluent flowing into the Lower Duwamish, costs that should not be borne by the City or by its taxpayers but by the company that knew its product would cause this contamination,” John Fiske of Gomez Trial Attorneys said in a release.

January 26, 2016 Posted by | Environmentalism | | Leave a comment

Study Linking GMOs and Tumors Vindicated Yet Again… MSM Stays Silent

corbettreport – December 6, 2015


December 6, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

The Enduring Crime of ‘Agent Orange’

By Gary G. Kohls | Consortium News | November 14, 2015

Fifty years ago next month (December 1965), with the urging of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the rubber stamp approval of President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, the United States Air Force started secretly spraying the forests of Laos with a deadly herbicide that was known as Agent Orange.

Operation Ranch Hand, whose motto was “Only We Can Prevent Forests” (a shameful takeoff of Smokey the Bear’s admonition), was a desperate, costly and ultimately futile effort to make it a little harder for the National Liberation Front soldiers from North Vietnam to join and supply their comrades-in-arms in the south.

Both the guerrilla fighters in the south and the NLF army had been fighting to liberate Vietnam from the exploitive colonial domination from foreign nations such as imperial France (that began colonizing Vietnam in 1874), then Japan (during World War II), then the United States (since France’s expulsion after their huge military defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954) and then against its own nation’s U.S.-backed fascist/military regime in South Vietnam that was headed by the brutal and corrupt President Ngo Dinh Diem.

(Incidentally, the nepotism in Diem’s iron-fisted rule was almost laughable, with one brother being the Catholic Archbishop of Vietnam, a second brother being in charge of the Hue district, and a third brother being the co-founder of the only legal political party in South Vietnam as well as Diem’s principal adviser. True democracies do not criminalize political parties.)

The aim of the National Liberation Front was to unite the north and the south portions of the country and free it from the influence and occupation of foreign invaders. The leader of the liberation movement since its beginning was Ho Chi Minh, who had made sincere appeals to both President Woodrow Wilson (after World War I had weakened France’s colonial system) and President Harry Truman (after the Japanese had taken over Vietnam during World War II and then surrendered to the U.S. in 1945).

Each appeal asked for America’s help to liberate Vietnam from their French colonial oppressors and each one fell on deaf ears, even though Ho Chi Minh had frequently incorporated the wording and spirit of America’s Declaration of Independence in his continuous efforts to achieve justice for his suffering people.

Agent Orange’s Ecological Devastation

Operation Ranch Hand had actually been in operation since 1961, mainly spraying its poisons on Vietnam’s forests and crop land. The purpose of the operation was to defoliate trees and shrubs and kill food crops that were providing cover and food for the “enemy.”

Operation Ranch Hand consisted of spraying a variety of highly toxic polychlorinated herbicide solutions that contained a variety of chemicals that are known to be (in addition to killing plant life) human and animal mitochondrial toxins, immunotoxins, hormone disrupters, genotoxins, mutagens, teratogens, diabetogens and carcinogens that were manufactured by such amoral multinational corporate chemical giants like Monsanto, Dow Chemical, DuPont and Diamond Shamrock (now Valero Energy).

All were eager war profiteers whose CEOs and share-holders somehow have always benefitted financially from America’s wars. Such non-human entities as Monsanto and the weapons manufacturers don’t care if the wars that they can profit from are illegal or not, war crimes or not; if they can make money they will be there at the trough.

They are however, expert at duping the Pentagon into paying exorbitantly high prices for inferior, unnecessary or dangerous war materiel. One only needs to recall Vice President Dick Cheney’s Halliburton Corporation and that company’s no-bid multibillion dollar contracts that underserved U.S. soldiers during the past three wars, but enriched any number of One Percenters.

Agent Orange was the most commonly used of a handful of color-coded herbicidal poisons that the USAF sprayed (and frequently re-sprayed) over rural Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. It was also used heavily over the perimeters of many of the U.S. military bases, the toxic carcinogenic and disease-inducing chemicals often splashing directly upon American soldiers. (But “stuff happens” as Donald Rumsfeld would say).

The soil in and around some of the U.S. and ARVN (Army of the Republic of Viet Nam) military bases continue to have extremely high levels of dioxin. The U.S. military bases where the barrels of Agent Orange were off-loaded, stored and then pumped into the spray planes or “brown water” swift boats are especially contaminated, as were those guinea pig “atomic soldiers” who handled the chemicals.

The Da Nang airbase today has dioxin contamination levels over 300 times higher than that which international agencies would recommend remediation. (Guess which guilty nation is doing nothing about Agent Orange contamination of the sovereign nation of Vietnam?)

It is fair to speculate that any American GI who spent any time at bases such as Da Nang, Phu Cat and Bien Hoa in the 1960s and 1970s may have been exposed. U.S. Navy swift boat crews that sprayed Agent Orange on the shores of the bushy rivers that they patrolled were often soaked by the oily chemicals that were sprayed from the hoses. Secretary of State Kerry, who commanded a swift boat as a U.S. Navy lieutenant, are you listening?

The poisonous spraying continued for a decade until it was stopped in 1971. The South Vietnamese air force, that had started spraying Agent Orange before the U.S. did, continued the program beyond 1971.

Chemical That Never Stops Poisoning

Agent Orange was a 50/50 mixture of two herbicides: 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) and 2,4,5-T (2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid). Other herbicide agents were mixtures of other equally toxic polychlorinated compounds, but every barrel was contaminated by substantial amounts of dioxin, one of the most toxic industry-made chemicals known to man.

The toxicity of the herbicidal chemicals known as “dioxins” or “dioxin-like compounds” is due to the chlorine atoms and the benzene molecules (or phenyl groups) in the compound to which they are attached.

Dioxins have very long half-lives and are thus very poisonous to the liver’s detoxifying enzymes that humans and animals rely on to degrade synthetic chemicals that get into the blood stream. The fatty tissues of exposed Vietnam vets, even decades after exposure, continue to have measureable levels of dioxins.  …

According to Wikipedia, “War crimes have been broadly defined by the Nuremberg Principles as ‘violations of the laws or customs of war,’ which includes massacres, bombings of civilian targets, terrorism, mutilation, torture and the murder of detainees and prisoners of war (realities that abounded at places like My Lai and other massacre sites).  Additional common crimes include theft, arson, and the destruction of property not warranted by military necessity.”

According to that definition, anybody with a smidgen of awareness of what really happens in any combat zone would have to conclude that every war that the U.S. military has ordered its young soldiers to go off and fight and kill in, especially the many corporate-endorsed, Wall Street wars, was laden with war crimes.

Four million innocent Vietnamese civilians were exposed to Agent Orange, and as many as 3 million have suffered diagnosable illnesses because of it, including the progeny of people who were exposed to it, approximating the number of innocent Vietnamese civilians that were killed in the war.

The Red Cross of Vietnam says that up to 1 million people are disabled with Agent Orange-induced illnesses. There has been an epidemic of birth defects, chronic illnesses, fetal anomalies and neurological and mental illnesses since the “American War.”

Most thinking humans would agree that destroying the health and livelihoods of innocent farmers, women, children, babies and old people by poisoning their forests, farms, food and water supplies qualifies as a war crime.

Disrespecting Sickened Veterans

According to Wikipedia, the chemical companies accused in an Agent Orange Vietnam veterans’ class action lawsuit in 1984 (against seven chemical companies that got Agent Orange contracts from the Pentagon) denied that there was a link between their poisons and the veterans’ health problems.

On May 7, 1984, as is usual for Big Corporations that know when they are losing, the seven chemical companies settled out of court for $180 million just hours before jury selection was to begin. The companies agreed to pay the $180 million as compensation if the veterans dropped all claims against them, with 45 percent of the sum to be paid by Monsanto.

Many veterans were outraged, feeling that they had been betrayed by the lawyers. Fairness Hearings were held in five major American cities, where veterans and their families discussed their reactions to the settlement, and condemned the actions of the lawyers and courts, demanding the case be heard before a jury of their peers. The federal judge refused the appeals, claiming the settlement was “fair and just.”

By 1989, the veterans’ fears were confirmed when it was decided how the money from the settlement would be paid out. A totally disabled Vietnam veteran would receive a corporate-friendly maximum of $12,000 spread out over the course of 10 years. By accepting the settlement payments, disabled veterans would become ineligible for many state benefits such as food stamps, public assistance and government pensions. A widow of a veteran who died because of Agent Orange would only receive $3,700.

According to Wikipedia, “In 2004, Monsanto spokesman Jill Montgomery said Monsanto should not be liable at all for injuries or deaths caused by Agent Orange, saying: ‘We are sympathetic with people who believe they have been injured and understand their concern to find the cause, but reliable scientific evidence indicates that Agent Orange is not the cause of serious long-term health effects.’”

Talk about governmental and corporate disrespect for military veterans who have been sickened by military toxins or physically or psychologically wounded in battle! Such shabby treatment of returning veterans has been the norm after every war, including the “bonus army” revolt of the 1930s when thousands of poor, disabled and/or unemployed World War I vets marched on Washington, DC, demanding the bonus that had been promised them in the 1920s. Rather than receiving justice, Generals Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower ordered their troops to burn the bonus army’s temporary villages and disperse the vets empty-handed. …

I conclude this essay by listing the currently-accepted list of diseases that the Veteran Administration acknowledges can be caused by exposure to Agent Orange. This applies to American veterans, but one can be certain that the consequences are a hundred times worse for the Vietnamese people who were sprayed and who are still being exposed to it in the soil for the last 50 years.

The VA says that certain cancers and other health problems can be caused by exposure to Agent Orange and the other herbicides during their military service. Veterans and their survivors may be eligible for benefits if they have one of these diagnoses:

Amyloidosis, Chronic B-cell Leukemias, Chloracne, Type II Diabetes Mellitus, Hodgkins Disease, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Ischemic Heart Disease, Multiple Myeloma, Parkinson’s Disease, Peripheral Neuropathy, Porphyria Cutanea Tarda, Prostate Cancer, Respiratory Cancers (including lung cancer), Hairy Cell Leukemia, Soft Tissue Sarcomas and spina bifida in infants of Agent Orange exposed Vietnam veterans.

Gary G. Kohls is a retired physician who practiced holistic, non-drug, mental health care for the last decade of his family practice career. He now writes a weekly column for the Reader Weekly, an alternative newsweekly published in Duluth, Minnesota, USA. Many of Dr. Kohls’ columns are archived at

November 14, 2015 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Monsanto Wants to Know Why People Doubt Science

By Colin Todhunter | CounterPunch | February 27, 2015

On Twitter recently, someone asked the question “Why do people doubt science?” Accompanying the tweet was a link to an article in National Geographic that implied people who are suspicious of vaccines, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), climate change, fluoridated water and various other phenomena are confused, adhere to conspiracy theories, are motivated by ideology or are misinformed as a result of access to the ‘University of Google.’ The remedy, according to what is said in the article, is for us all to rely on scientific evidence pertaining to these issues and adopt a ‘scientific method’ of thought and analysis and put irrational thought processes to one side.

Who tweeted the question and posted the link? None other than Robert T Fraley, Monsanto’s Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.

Before addressing that question, it is worth mentioning that science is not the giver of ‘absolute truth’. That in itself should allow us to develop a healthy sceptism towards the discipline. The ‘truth’ is a tricky thing to pin down. Scientific knowledge is built on shaky stilts that rest on shifting foundations. Science historian Thomas Kuhn wrote about the revolutionary paradigm shifts in scientific thought, whereby established theoretical perspectives can play the role of secular theology and serve as a barrier to the advancement of knowledge, until the weight of evidence and pressure from proponents of a new theoretical paradigm is overwhelming. Then, at least according to Kuhn, the old faith gives way and a new ‘truth’ changes.

Philosopher Paul Feyerabend argued that science is not an ‘exact science’. The manufacture of scientific knowledge involves a process driven by various sociological, methodological and epistemological conflicts and compromises, both inside the laboratory and beyond. Writers in the field of the sociology of science have written much on this.

But the answer to the question “Why do people doubt science” is not because they have read Kuhn, Feyerabend or some sociology journal. Neither is it because a bunch of ‘irrational’ activists have scared them witless about GM crops or some other issue. It is because they can see how science is used, corrupted and manipulated by powerful corporations to serve their own ends. It is because they regard these large corporations as largely unaccountable and their activities and products not properly regulated by governments.

That’s why so many doubt science – or more precisely the science corporations fund and promote to support their interests.

US sociologist Robert Merton highlighted the underlying norms of science as involving research that is not warped by vested interests, adheres to the common ownership of scientific discoveries (intellectual property) to promote collective collaboration and subjects findings to organised, rigorous critical scrutiny within the scientific community. The concept of originality was added by later writers in order to fully encapsulate the ethos of science: scientific claims must contribute something new to existing discourse. Based on this brief analysis, secrecy, dogma and vested interest have no place.

This is of course a highly idealised version of what science is or should be because in reality careers, reputations, commercial interests and funding issues all serve to undermine these norms.

But if we really want to look at the role of secrecy, dogma and vested interest in full flow, we could take a look at the sector to which Robert T Fraley belongs.

Last year, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called for “sound science” to underpin food trade between the US and the EU. However, he seems very selective in applying “sound science” to certain issues. Consumer rights groups in the US are pushing for the labelling of GMO foods, but Vilsack said that putting a label on a foodstuff containing a GM product “risks sending a wrong impression that this was a safety issue.”

Despite what Vilsack would have us believe, many scientific studies show that GMOs are indeed a big safety issue and what’s more are also having grave environmental, social and economic consequences (for example, see this and this).

By not wanting to respond to widespread consumer demands to know what they are eating and risk “sending a wrong impression,” Vislack is trying to prevent proper debate about issues that his corporate backers would find unpalatable: profits would collapse if consumers had the choice to reject the GMOs being fed to them. And ‘corporate backers’ must not be taken as a throwaway term here. Big agritech concerns have captured or at the very least seriously compromised key policy and regulatory bodies in the US (see this), Europe (see this), India (see this) and in fact on a global level (see here regarding control of the WTO).

If Robert T Fraley wants to understand why people doubt science, he should consider what Andy Stirling, Professor of Science and Technology Policy at Sussex University, says:

“The main reason some multinationals prefer GM technologies over the many alternatives is that GM offers more lucrative ways to control intellectual property and global supply chains. To sideline open discussion of these issues, related interests are now trying to deny the many uncertainties and suppress scientific diversity. This undermines democratic debate – and science itself.” (see here)

Coming from the GMO biotech industry, or its political mouthpieces, the term “sound science” rings extremely hollow. The industry carries out inadequate, short-term studies and conceals the data produced by its research under the guise of ‘commercial confidentiality’ (see this), while independent research highlights the very serious dangers of its products [see this and this). It has in the past also engaged in fakery in India (see this), bribery in Indonesia (see this ) and smears and intimidation against those who challenge its interests [see this), as well as the distortion and the censorship of science (see this  and this).

With its aim to modify organisms to create patents that will secure ever greater control over seeds, markets and the food supply, the widely held suspicion is that the GMO agritech sector is only concerned with a certain type of science: that which supports these aims. Because if science is held in such high regard by these corporations, why isn’t Monsanto proud of its products? Why not label foods in the US that contain GMOs and throw open [Monsanto’s] science to public scrutiny, instead of veiling it with secrecy, restricting independent research on its products or resorting to unsavoury tactics?

If science is held in such high regard by the GMO agritech sector, why in the US did policy makers release GM food onto the commercial market without proper long-term tests? The argument used to justify this is GM food is ‘substantially equivalent’ to ordinary food. But this is not based on scientific reason. Foreign genes are being inserted into organisms that studies show make them substantially non-equivalent (see this). Substantial equivalence is a trade strategy on behalf of the GM sector that neatly serves to remove its GMOs from the type of scrutiny usually applied to potentially toxic or harmful substances. The attempt to replace processed-based regulation of GMOs in Europe with product-based regulation would result in serving a similar purpose (see this).

The reason why no labelling or testing has taken place in the US is not due to ‘sound science’ having been applied but comes down to the power and political influence of the GMO biotech sector and because a sound scientific approach has not been applied.

The sector cannot win the scientific debate (although its PR likes to tell the world it has) so it resorts to co-opting key public bodies or individuals to propagate various falsehoods and deceptions (see this). Part of the deception is based on emotional blackmail: the world needs GMOs to feed the hungry, both now and in the future. This myth has been blown apart (see thisthis and this). In fact, in the second of those three links, the organisation GRAIN highlights that GM crops that have been planted thus far have actually contributed to food insecurity.

This is a harsh truth that the industry does not like to face.

People’s faith in science is being shaken on many levels, not least because big corporations have secured access to policy makers and governments and are increasingly funding research and setting research agendas.

“As Andrew Neighbour, former administrator at Washington University in St. Louis, who managed the university’s multiyear and multimillion dollar relationship with Monsanto, admits, “There’s no question that industry money comes with strings. It limits what you can do, when you can do it, who it has to be approved by”…  This raises the question: if Agribusiness giant Monsanto [in India] is funding the research, will Indian agricultural researchers pursue such lines of scientific inquiry as “How will this new rice or wheat variety impact the Indian farmer, or health of Indian public?” The reality is, Monsanto is funding the research not for the benefit of either Indian farmer or public, but for its profit. It is paying researchers to ask questions that it is most interested in having answered.” – ‘Monsanto, a Contemporary East India Company, and Corporate Knowledge in India‘.

Ultimately, it is not science itself that people have doubts about but science that is pressed into the service of immensely powerful private corporations and regulatory bodies that are effectively co-opted and adopt a ‘don’t look, don’t find approach’ to studies and products (see thisthis  and this).

Or in the case of releasing GMOs onto the commercial market in the US, bypassing proper scientific procedures and engaging in doublespeak about ‘substantial equivalence’ then hypocritically calling for ‘sound science’ to inform debates.

The same corporate interests are moreover undermining the peer-review process itself and the ability of certain scientists to get published in journals – the benchmark of scientific credibility. In effect, powerful interests increasingly hold sway over funding, career progression as a scientist, journals and peer review (see this and this, which question the reliability of peer review in the area of GMOs).

Going back to the start of the piece, the question that should have been tweeted is: “Why do people doubt corporate-controlled or influenced science?” After that question, it would have been more revealing to have posted a link to this article here about the unscrupulous history of a certain company from St Louis. That history provides very good reason why so many doubt and challenge powerful corporations and the type of science they fund and promote (or attempt to suppress) and the type of world they seek to create (see this).

“Corporations as the dominant institution shaped by capitalist patriarchy thrive on eco-apartheid. They thrive on the Cartesian legacy of dualism which puts nature against humans. It defines nature as female and passively subjugated. Corporatocentrism is thus also androcentric – a patriarchal construction. The false universalism of man as conqueror and owner of the Earth has led to the technological hubris of geo-engineering, genetic engineering, and nuclear energy. It has led to the ethical outrage of owning life forms through patents, water through privatization, the air through carbon trading. It is leading to appropriation of the biodiversity that serves the poor.” –Vandana Shiva

August 16, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | 3 Comments

After 8 Years of Delay, EPA Finally Agrees to Test Dangers of Monsanto’s Favorite Pesticide

By Steve Straehley | AllGov | June 29, 2015

31f233bf-35af-40f8-a56a-66b3c9853a6aGlyphosate, which is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, will finally undergo analysis for its effects on endangered species by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), thanks to the persistence of the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).

The group has been trying for eight years to get the EPA to look at glyphosate, along with atrazine and two chemicals similar to atrazine: propazine and simazine. Glyphosate was found two months ago by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer to be a probable human carcinogen and was banned for sale in garden centers in France earlier this month.

“This settlement will finally force the EPA to consider the impacts of glyphosate—widely known as Roundup—which is the most commonly used pesticide in the United States, on endangered species nationwide,” said Brett Hartl, CBD’s endangered species policy director. “With more than 300 million pounds of this stuff being dumped on our landscape each year, it’s hard to even fathom the damage it’s doing.”

Roundup appears to be responsible for the 90% drop in the number of monarch butterflies in the United States. The butterflies feed on milkweed, which has been just about eliminated because of Roundup use in fields near butterflies’ habitats.

Monsanto spokesman Robb Fraley said Roundup meets standards set by regulatory and health authorities. However, the EPA hasn’t ever taken a close look at glyphosate’s effect on endangered species.

Atrazine chemically castrates frogs and may be linked to increased risks of thyroid cancer, reproductive harm and birth defects in humans, according to CBD. “The EPA should have banned this years ago,” Hartl said. Up to 80 million pounds of atrazine are used each year in the United States on corn, sugarcane and sorghum, as well as lawns and golf courses.

The EPA’s agreement is only the beginning of a long, slow process. The agency has agreed to complete its assessments by 2020.

To Learn More:

Big Win for Environmentalists Will Force EPA to Study Glyphosate (by Elizabeth Warmerdam, Courthouse News Service )

Settlement: EPA to Analyze Impacts of World’s Two Most Widely Used Pesticides on 1,500 Endangered Species (Center for Biological Diversity)

UN Report Links California’s Favorite Herbicide, Monsanto’s Roundup, to Cancer (by Ken Broder, AllGov California )

EPA Sued over Not Protecting Decimated Monarch Butterflies from Monsanto (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Ken Broder, AllGov California )

EPA Approves Rise in Glyphosate Residue for Monsanto’s Herbicide (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov )

July 1, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | 1 Comment

Black Earth and the Struggle for Ukraine’s Future

By Andrey Panevin | Slavyangrad | June 25, 2015

The Ukrainian crisis can be viewed as being composed of several interconnected factors, from the civil war to rampant corruption, and the wider geopolitical ramifications of American confrontation with Russia. Another—relatively overlooked—factor is the ongoing conflict over Ukraine’s natural resources. Of particular interest to transnational corporations and their puppet local oligarchs is the ‘black earth’ of Ukraine. Black earth or ‘Chernozem’ is found in two major zones on earth, one of which encompasses sections of Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. Black earth is characterized by its very high fertility and, consequently, its capacity for producing a high agricultural output.


A scientist examines ‘chernozerm’ in Nikolaev, Ukraine.
(image: Saghnol, wikimedia commons)

International corporations have long been utilizing loopholes and political lobbying in order to overturn a Ukrainian moratorium on land sales to foreigners. By leasing numerous parcels of land these companies anticipate both the Ukrainian government’s desperation for money and the EU obligations to force open a goldmine of agricultural exploitation. The role of the ‘big players’—Monsanto, Cargill and Dupont—has been explored previously. The focus now is on agro-holding companies and individual oligarchs who seek to buy up and sell out Ukrainian land and livelihood.

One of the largest agro-holding companies operating in Ukraine is AgroGeneration. AgroGeneration seeks to “transform the land it works and today outperforms Ukrainian average yields. The company follows a traditional crop rotation and puts money into first-class fertilizers, seeds, and agricultural chemicals for the purpose of achieving profitability per crop.” The company has amassed 120,000 hectares of arable land, with 70,000 hectares being located in Kharkov oblast, whose eponymous capital is a city of great political and military importance in Ukraine. Kharkov has a large ethnic Russian and Russian-speaking population that has been actively repressed by the Kiev authorities, and it remains a region of dissent against the Kiev regime.

Michael Bleyzer, the Kharkov-born chairman of AgroGeneration, and founder of its sibling companies Sigma-Bleyzer and the Bleyzer Foundation, recognizes the importance of the city and has actively spoken about the need to maintain political and military order within it. In an op-ed for the KyivPost, Bleyzer writes of Kharkov as the most critical region, in need of being made “a very high priority. A large segment of the population in Kharkiv oblast is so discouraged by events and by the constant bombardment of Russian propaganda that they could be supportive of a Russian invasion or an attempt to establish a so-called People’s Republic.” Bleyzer further advocates a ‘Social Stabilization Fund’ for Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhia, Kherson, Nikolaev and Odessa. It is worth noting that these regions all contain either chernozerm or, as in the case of Odessa, ports through with which agricultural products transit.


The vast tracts of agricultural land controlled by AgroGeneration alone. (

Michael Bleyzer’s role as a mouthpiece for the Kiev regime’s ‘war’ against Russia extends past his personal business interests and falls in line with the broader neoliberal, capitalist takeover of Ukraine. AgroGeneration and Sigma-Bleyzer (a private equity firm also owned by Bleyzer) seek to take advantage of the current regime’s plea to the West to ‘buy Ukraine’. These corporations and others are not only taking control of Ukraine’s farm land, they are doing it with European and American government assistance. In 2005, Sigma-Bleyzer received financing for a project worth up to 250 million euros from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). In 2011, the EBRD gave AgroGeneration ten million dollars to double its ownership of Ukrainian land. In 2012 the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)—an American government financial institution—gave Sigma-Bleyzer fifty million dollars for its ‘Eastern Europe fund.’

While these international corporations receive vast sums of money for their expansion in Ukraine, ‘access to credit remains a major problem for Ukraine’s small and medium farmers’. This interconnected system of funding from government finance institutions to private corporations has spelled doom for Ukraine’s agricultural sector, opening it up to exploitation and eventual ruin from the inside out.


Bleyzer (left) with US presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Maidan Square in Kiev. (Source: Secure America Now)

Connections between government and private corporations are at the core of this exploitation, with both entities seeking to employ what Bleyzer himself refers to as a system of “quasi-private equity funds managed by money managers from the private sector whenever possible.” Bleyzer’s attitude to the financial invasion of countries was well honed during the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, where he actively encouraged the US government to “create and implement the policy measures that will make an attractive investment climate in Iraq. This public-private partnership could play a critical role in making possible dramatic social and economic changes in Iraq and other countries in the region.” The goal of the corporate annexation of sovereign policy-reform has served Bleyzer and countless other oligarchs well from Iraq to Ukraine. In the context of this corrupt, financially imperialist environment it is no wonder that in a May 2015 economic report by Sigma-Bleyzer, it is casually written (in reference to the Ukrainian civil war) that “a frozen conflict could still provide the opportunity for the rest of the country to restart investments and economic growth.”

Ukraine’s precious black earth is being steadily annexed by international corporations and joins the list of resources and national sectors being outsourced to private investors. Agricultural corporations such as AgroGeneration find great corporate solidarity on the board of members of the US-Ukraine Business Council, which includes (among others) Sigma-Bleyzer, Monsanto, Dupont, Cargill, Exxon, Raytheon and the Bleyzer Foundation. These corporations share the common goal of pressuring the Ukrainian government to institute political ‘reforms’ in their favour. For agricultural corporations in particular, the goal is to pressure the government to “think about privatization. They need to prepare everything to allow for farmland sales (to foreign and domestic investors) in three to four years,” as stated by Heinz Strubenhoff, the agribusiness investment manager for the World Bank in Ukraine.

Ukraine is at a national crossroads and if the example of its increasing corporate annexation is anything to go by, it will have neither the money nor the resources to rebuild itself in the face of its political and cultural self-destruction. The West-supported preoccupation with ‘Russian invaders’ has left the oligarchy free to sell Ukraine’s political processes and natural resources to the highest bidder.

June 25, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Monsanto Linked to Israel’s Illegal Use of White Phosphorous in Gaza War

Sputnik | June 17, 2015

Agribusiness giant Monsanto – best known for their genetically modified soybeans and “probably carcinogenic” herbicide – has supplied the US government with white phosphorous used in incendiary weapons for at least 20 years, and some of that made its way to Israel for use in Operation Cast Lead.

The blog Current Events Inquiry dug into some heavily redacted documents posted in 2012 on the US Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website, to discover that Monsanto was the  purveyor of white phosphorous to the US, and subsequently Israel, including during Operation Cast Lead, which resulted in heavy casualties among Palestinians in Gaza in 2008 and 2009.

The “Justification & Approval” document describes the solicitation of 180,000 pounds of white phosphorous (WP), and gives insight into the history of US procurement of the chemical.

“The Government is aware of only one source, Monsanto, who currently manufactures WP in the US,” the document states, explaining that a company that produces such a chemical should be granted special protections under emergency conditions.

“WP requires specialized technology, skills and processes in its production. These technologies and skills must be protected within the NTIB [National Technology and Industrial Base] in the event of a national emergency.”

Monsanto was not always the sole producer of white phosphorous, but the other manufacturers’ names are redacted in the discussion of the history of the chemical. The document indicates that the US was wary of major producers in China and India due to concerns over safety, quality control and environmental standards.

“Over the past 20 years, the majority of the manufacturing of WP moved to China and India because of lower costs and the lack of EPA regulations in those countries. In the 1990s, there were [REDACTED] manufacturers capable of manufacturing WP in the United States; [REDACTED] Because of EPA regulations and foreign price competition, [REDACTED] closed their operations. With only one known producer of WP in the NTIB (Monsanto), the Government’s support of this domestic capability is critically important as it reduces the risk to the war fighter in times of national emergency as well as avoiding a potentially dangerous dependency upon a foreign source.”

According to the FBO website, the procurement was awarded to ICL Performance Products, which had previously won similar contracts in  2008, 2010, and 2011, as noted in the Justification and Approval documents.

ICL is a subsidiary of Israel Chemicals Ltd., which describes itself as “a global manufacturer of products based on unique minerals, fulfill[ing] humanity’s essential needs, primarily in three markets: agriculture, food and engineered materials.”

Quick Burning, WP’s Effects Last a Lifetime. Or More. 

White phosphorus does not just maim, but can kill. It ignites upon contact with skin and burns either until it runs out of fuel or is cut off from oxygen. If inhaled or swallowed it can cause severe damage to any mucous membranes with which it comes in contact.

Absorption through the skin means that a 10% burn can cause damage to internal organs such as the heart, liver, or kidneys, and can be fatal. Even after healing from an initial exposure, victims can suffer from long-lasting health problems, including birth defects and neurological damage.

A Palestinian man is treated for burns in Jan. 2009. Human Rights Watch reported in March 2009 that Israel had used white phosphorous in the densely populated Gaza strip, in violation of international law.

The Israeli Connection

The United States confirmed its own troops used white phosphorous during the Iraq war, in particular during the Battle of Fallujah in 2004. Israel also used white phosphorous in Lebanon while battling Hezbollah in 2006.

The US touts its plant in Pine Bluffs, Arkansas as the only plant in the northern hemisphere that fills white phosphorous munitions. And in 2009, State Department officials confirmed that WP munitions from Pine Bluffs had been provided to Israel for use during Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009).

Israel initially denied using the chemical during the conflict. But in July 2009, following various media reports and reports from groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the Israeli Ministry of Defense admitted using the chemical, but only for its approved use — as an obscurant and illuminant.

“The use of white phosphorus is not in and of itself a war crime, and is generally considered acceptable as a means of obscuring troop movements or illuminating areas,” writes Jason Ditz. “Its use in civilian areas however, even if not directed at the civilian population, is banned under the Geneva Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.”

White phosphorous is not classified as a chemical weapon and is not completely banned under international law. The chemical can be used in open, unpopulated areas as a smokescreen to hide troop movements or to provide illumination at night. But the Gaza strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

It may seem bizarre that a company known for GMO seeds is producing chemical weapons, but white phosphorous is also used to produce phosphoric acid, a key ingredient in many fertilizers.

And lest anyone forget, Monsanto was one of the producers of the 20 million gallons of Agent Orange — ostensibly, a defoliant — used in Vietnam. That country claims that Agent Orange led to to over 400,000 deaths and continues to cause health problems and defects in a third generation of babies.

June 17, 2015 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment