Study after study is showing up these days that tell us that Monsanto’s Roundup is causing cancer and other extremely severe neurological defects. Monsanto adamantly denies all of these charges, but they cannot deny the reality of science. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this with attorney Howard Nations.
Transcript of Video
Farron: Study after study is coming out these days showing that Monsanto’s Roundup is causing cancer and other very severe neurological defects. Monsanto adamantly denies all of these charges, however they can’t deny the reality of science. Joining me now to talk about this is Howard Nations. Howard, Monsanto has done a phenomenal job for decades now of keeping the public in the dark about the dangers of Roundup. Luckily just in the last I’d say probably 12 months we’re finally getting organizations, The World Health Organization, who has looked at this and said, “This is not a safe product.” We’ve got articles coming out now several times a week. Lay out the Roundup story, what do we know now that we may not have known 18 months ago?
Howard: As you say The World Health Organization, its cancer research arm, which is the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon France, announced that glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is quote, “Probably carcinogenic to humans,” end quote. Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Now Monsanto, the world’s largest seller of glyphosate accused the IARC of cherry picking data. Monsanto was outraged, you can’t imagine how outraged they were that they’d been caught, but the IARC reviews carcinogenicity of industrial chemicals in food.
On March 20th a panel of international experts reported findings of 5 agricultural chemicals in the category of organophosphates, one of which is the Roundup product. They published the article in Lancet Oncology. Lancet is one of the world’s most respected medical journals. Glyphosate was determined to be quote, “Probably carcinogenic in humans,” end quote. That’s a 2A category, which means that they had limited evidence of the link in humans from the studies, but the evidence from the animal studies showed tumors in mice, rats and DNA damage to human cells. It led to that 2A finding of probably, as opposed to possibly, probably carcinogenic.
Farron: One of the thing that’s interesting is that in these studies with the mice and rats, they use mice and rats because their chemical make up is very similar to those in humans, which means when they see it happen in mice and rats it is very likely that it would happen in human beings. I know we do have a lot of people against animal testing but this is about as spot on as you can get aside from taking human beings and putting them in a laboratory and spraying them with Roundup and seeing what happens. They slap this label on there, probably, because they can’t obviously say, definitively, because we’re not doing human testing on this.
Monsanto as you pointed out, they got furious, absolutely up in arms. They say, “There is no way. This stuff is marketed as safe. It is environmentally friendly. What are you talking about?” One of the things I love is that Monsanto, just like every other industry, when they get [pucked 00:03:31] with something they say, “Okay. We’re going to take charge.” They created this glyphosate task force that they’re running that comes out and says, “Well, our little task force, this glyphosate task force, it says everything’s okay. Don’t worry about it.” As anything else happened? Is there any weight to anything that Monsanto says?
Howard: Not surprisingly Monsanto claimed that the relevant scientific data was excluded from the IARC report, in that they disregarded dozens of scientific studies, specifically genetic toxicity studies. Guess what IARC chose to ignore? They ignored the industry finding, as in industry submitted studies. As true scientists they consider only peer reviewed publications and government reports. This is the difference between scientists and politicians that Monsanto can buy.
There was also, Mother Earth News just reported that there’s a new study out of France that demonstrates that glyphosate based herbicides are toxic to human reproductive cells. They create risk of infertility, low sperm count and prostate or testicular cancer. Now this study was reported in Toxicology, which is the most esteemed journal in that field. It shows that, listen to this, it shows that at low levels that are currently EPA approved, within EPA guidelines, the use of Roundup on our food could cause DNA damage, endocrine disruption and cell death, from approved products.
Farron: What’s really interesting here too is that especially now that we’re entering summertime and springtime, we see commercials for Roundup on television constantly. There is not a single warning in any of those commercials. At least when we see pharmaceutical commercials they’ve got the little blurb and they’re saying, “By the way, this pill’s probably going to cause a lot more damage than it solves in your body,” but with Roundup there are absolutely no warnings. They do not have to disclose anything, any of this science that we’re discussing.
Part of that comes back to the fact that right now neither the EPA, nor the FDA, are regulating this product in any way in terms of it being sprayed on our food supply and then fed to us. Right now it really is the wild west with Monsanto and Roundup because there are no limits to who they can sell it to, how much can be used and how much we can be exposed to. First of all it seems outlandish that we’re not even proposing anything at this point to deal with the toxicology and the exposure to humans, and most people don’t know. What do we do? What’s the step from there?
Howard: You know the only people that are really giving Monsanto a hard time are the French, the French studies, the French regulatory agencies. Roundup and glyphosate products have been used in the United States since 1970. Today they’re using 100,000 pounds a year that are being sprayed in farms and in yards all over the United States. Now the big deal was they genetically modified crops for corn, soy and cotton, so that they became resistant to glyphosate. Monsanto claimed that this would reduce the use of herbicides, but the weeds that they’re supposed to be killing also developed a resistance to glyphosate so they have to use more herbicides to kill the weeds.
Monsanto petitioned the EPA. You talk about regulatory, Monsanto petitioned the EPA, the EPA approved a 20 times increase in legal residue limits for food crops. Then to expand their base Monsanto encourage the use of Roundup as a desiccant, which is used to dry out crops. The result was that it used to just be sprayed on GMO crops, now they’re sprayed on non GMO crops such as wheat, barley, oats, flax, peas, lentils, dry beans, everything. The result of that has increased the use over a 15 year period of Roundup in the United States by 527 million pounds.
Here’s where again the French got them, Monsanto falsified data in order to expand their base even further. They falsified data of Roundup safety and marketed it to park departments, and this is what you’re talking about in the United States, the advertising you see. They advertised to park departments, to consumers as environmentally friendly and biodegradable, to encourage use on road sides, playgrounds, golf courses, schoolyards and our own lawns and home gardens. The French court ruled that these particular marketing claims were false advertising.
Farron: You know, I wish we could see something like that happen in the United States, especially because a lot of the studies that have been done are focusing primarily on the consumption of crops that have been exposed to glyphosate. As you mentioned that list of food products there, a lot of those people may think, “I don’t necessarily eat barley.” Well guess what, those are the roots of a lot of the foods made in the United States, so it gets into essentially the food chain and it builds from there. There’s a build up of it.
But again that’s just consumption, what we also have to worry about is exposure to the chemical itself. You may not eat anything that has glyphosate on it, but if you’re walking through a park that has been sprayed … If you’ve ever smelled Roundup you know it is a very, very strong aroma. If you get it on your skin it almost seems to seep through your skin. It is detectable in the human bloodstream 30 minutes after exposure, 30 minutes. It does not take long for this to get into your system and be detectable. That is phenomenally fast.
Whether it’s through direct contact, through breathing in the chemicals, or through consumption, there almost is no escape. What we know now is it’s not even just cancers, is it? There is a laundry list of diseases, conditions caused by exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup.
Howard: Yeah. Anyone that thinks they’re not being exposed to Roundup, it’s been found, it’s in the food we eat, it’s in the water we drink, it’s in the air we breathe, it’s in the playgrounds where our children play. The whole list, EcoWatch came out with this report where they had found health problems which they attribute to exposure to Roundup and/or glyphosate. You’re ready for this? ADHD, Alzheimer’s, birth defects, autism, brain, breast, prostate and lung cancer, celiac disease, chronic kidney disease, colitis, depression, diabetes, heart disease, hypothyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Parkinson’s and then infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth in relationship to pregnancy and respiratory disease. In addition, the weeds have developed their resistance to Roundup so it doesn’t even perform the legitimate function for which it was approved in the first place.
Farron: When you look at that list of illnesses, it almost seems like being around Roundup is worse than smoking a cigarette at this point comparatively the diseases that it [inaudible 00:12:01] because we know that glyphosate is a neurotoxin. In addition to the cancers, which are the big thing that a lot of people focus on, we’re looking a neurological symptoms as you pointed out, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ADHD, autism. Those things have all been linked in studies, private studies not industry founded studies, not government studies. Independent studies have proven a correlation.
Now we’re working on causation, I know that, because it doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing, but there is absolutely a correlation between exposure to glyphosate and that huge list of things that you just listed. Where do we go from here? How do we get action? How do we get the US government to do what France is doing and say, “Look, there are problems with this, we have to do something?”
Howard: You start by electing a Democratic congress because the Republicans will sure as hell never regulate them. But the good news for Monsanto is Bayer’s offered $62 billion to buy them. They rejected the offer but Monsanto may want to rethink rejecting that offer before the world wakes up to the devastating health hazard that Monsanto’s peddling to us on a daily basis. Regulations, not going to happen. The EPA has indicated, they found toxicity and danger and devastating results at levels that are currently approved by the EPA. Regulation in the United States from the federal government is not going to happen.
Farron: What’s interesting too is that we started off discussing this World Health Organization study, 2 weeks ago a World Health Organization sub-committee released a report saying that glyphosate was not necessarily linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but this little paper they released was only 6 pages long. I read the whole thing about 4 times to make sure I was reading it correctly and that the media was getting it correct, and it turns out they weren’t. What the study said was that, we cannot from the research provided to us find a link between glyphosate consumption and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. But the media immediately ran with and said, “World Health Organization says, ‘No link between glyphosate and cancer.'” Those were the headlines, and it was absolutely misleading, absolutely not true and it was only if, like I said, it had to be a consumed version of glyphosate over the life of whatever plant was being consumed and it would only look for that one specific form of cancer. The media’s playing a big role in the misinformation around this as well.
Howard: As you said, we see Roundup advertised all the time. Monsanto spends a lot of money with the media in advertising. It’s the golden rule, he who has the gold makes the rules. They make the rules in the media, they make the rules in federal control of the industry. There’s not a lot there, not a lot of hope on the horizon for the consuming public and for the children and for the unborn who are being exposed to this through pregnant women.
Farron: I know that there are a lot of brilliant lawyers out there who are looking into these cases. That I think right now is our best hope. Let’s get this in the court system, let’s get some relief for the people that have been injured. Howard, unfortunately we are out of time. Thank you for this. I appreciate everything that you do, a phenomenal story and we’re going to stay on it.
Howard: Thanks Farron.