Via America’s Lawyer: Mike Papantonio is joined by Attorney Greg Coleman to describe how the popular herbicide Paraquat has been linked to Parkinson’s Disease, which he warns could soon plague agricultural workers. Then, RT correspondent Brigida Santos joins Mike Papantonio to explain what lawmakers in Washington are doing to crack down on price gouging of essential medical supplies during the pandemic. Plus, a second federal court has ruled that the state of Florida cannot implement what’s been described as a poll tax to prevent former felons from being allowed to register to vote.

Transcript:

*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio: A popular herbicide called Paraquat has been linked to dangerous and permanent health problems including Parkinson’s disease and chronic lung disease. This herbicide has been used for decades in the United States, while other countries have banned it because it’s so toxic. Joining me to talk about this is attorney Greg Coleman, who is in the middle of this litigation. Greg, let’s start with the basics. How long has this herbicide been used and who makes it and what are the health problems we’re seeing from it?

Greg Coleman: Well, thanks Mike. Yes, this is, as you indicated, a, a problem that’s been going on for years with what’s called Paraquat dichloride and it’s sold under the brand name Gramoxone. Now, Gramoxone has been sold since 1962. It was originally manufactured by Chevron and then since about 1986 in addition, Syngenta and Growmark had begun manufacturing the product. It’s been sold throughout the US and unlike other European countries, for example, 32 countries have banned this product because of its dangerous toxic levels. The US still allows the use of it for commercial and related application.

Mike Papantonio: Well we know, don’t we Greg, that the companies have known about the health issues for a very long time. Their own clinical data connected it up with, with, with absolute connection to aberrational DNA problems, cancer. And now we’re seeing for 20 years we’ve been seeing this issue about Parkinson’s disease develop more and more where we now know that par, that Paraquat will, does have relationship to Parkinson’s disease. So what, at what point does the company say, you know, enough? We’ve got 32 comp, countries around some of them third world countries, that have banned the use of this product. But we’re still using in the United States. At what point do they say we got to move on from this? They won’t, will they? They’ll squeeze every dime out of it won’t they?

Greg Coleman: No, Mike, we know how this works. Right? The companies are still making money. Why else would they be doing it? Especially when it’s been proven to have such dangerous health defects. For example, you mentioned how long it’s been known. There’ve been studies, for example, the 2009 Parkinson Institute study, which provided a relationship, a causal connection, if you will, between the chemical exposure of Paraquat with many different occupations, primarily among those agricultural workers. Then you have other articles. Again, we’re not talking about the peanuts comic strip here. We’re talking about the national institute of health, who published what was called the farming and movement evaluation study, or the acronym FAME, which established that people who use Paraquat listen to this, Mike, are a 250% more likely to develop Parkinson’s than nonusers. And remember that circle is not just those who use the product, it’s those who are exposed to the product. Well, that could be your family, that could be neighbors, that could be those that are close enough in proximity to the area because we all know it’s, it’s in the air, it’s in the ambient atmosphere, and it can spread in that fashion.

Mike Papantonio: Well, let me just give you some examples. There’s, there’s a, there’s an over-spray problem that we saw with the, the whole ugly, ugly saga with, with Roundup. This is Roundup on steroids. I mean, I, I’ve, I handled the Roundup, I’m, I’m handling the Roundup case. This is Roundup on steroids because of the elements that we’re, that we’re seeing where there’s a connection between it obliterating DNA, changing the formation of DNA, cancer relationships, attacking the liver, attacking the kidneys, attacking the lungs. Now we know there’s neurological data. At what point do we have politicians say no more? It won’t happen, will it? Because this com, these companies are just too big and, you know, they’re too big to fail so to speak.

Greg Coleman: Well, think about it like this too as well, Mike. We know since Roundup was uncovered, obviously that’s an ongoing case, although there has been reported by the news, there is some developments going on there, but Paraquat in a lot of cases has been used to sort of bridge any gap from the lack of use, if you will, of Roundup because of what’s been going on legally. But here’s the thing, Mike, Paraquat has been shown to be even more toxic than Roundup, than glyphosate, which of course was the herbicide or the chemical involved in Roundup. And in fact, you mentioned what the legislation is going to do or what should it do. In, in March of 2016, the EPA, our environmental protection agency, expressed its intent to pursue risk mitigation measures for Paraquat after evaluation, after evaluating some of the incident data, including a large body of epidemiological data. And this is what they found. They found that absolutely, there was a connection. Then in July of 2009.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. Greg, we’re short on time, but I want to tell you, we’ll get you back on as this case, as, as you develop this case further. It’s an important one. Thank you for being out there talking about it because it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of people talking.

Greg Coleman: Sure.

Mike Papantonio: Certainly the media is not talking about it, again. Thank you for joining me. Okay.

Greg Coleman: Thank you so much.

Mike Papantonio: House and Senate Democrats have introduced a bill that’s going to ban price gouging items unreal, that are related to the coronavirus outbreak. RT’s Brigida Santos joins me now with the story. Brigida, what can you tell me about the covid-19 price gouging prevention act that, that is in, is in cycle right now?

Brigida Santos: Democratic leaders have introduced several related bills to prohibit price gouging during national emergencies, which of course includes the covid-19 pandemic. Now the proposed bills would allow the federal trade commission and state attorneys general to crack down on sellers that increase the price of certain consumer goods by more than 10% unless sellers can prove that the increases are outside of their control. Now, there’s currently no federal law prohibiting price gouging, so this aims to help that. Now the announcement comes as thousands of people across the nation file complaints against e-commerce and brick and mortar retailers for selling necessities like toilet paper, masks, hand sanitizers, and even ammunition at exorbitant prices, well beyond that 10% threshold.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah, are state and federal authorities actually investigating the actual complaints? I mean, they, are they on the ground actually trying to see what’s being, what’s being done here? It’s one thing to say we, you know, we’re hearing this anecdotal information, but every time you see one of these stories develop the, you really change things by having the, by having the governmental entity that should be in charge of stopping it, actually sending people out, filing actual complaints, taking them to court. That’s the only thing that really changes the mindset of these greedy gouging sellers, isn’t it?

Brigida Santos: Yes, and the federal trade commission, food and drug administration and state attorneys general are now reportedly ramping up those investigations because there are so many complaints they can’t really ignore it at this point. And some States now even have online portals where consumers can go online and file complaints against sellers in their neighborhoods or online that are taking advantage of people during this crisis. The department of justice has also issued a broad mandate regarding criminal enforcement of these deceptive, fraudulent and predatory practices. Now this is really important because there are shady brokers out there, not only taking advantage of people on a small scale, but also on a mass scale.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. Can you give me some examples of how these thuggish types are actually taking advantage of people? I’m hearing odds and ends that just sound deplorable. What, what stories do you know about?

Brigida Santos: Sure. I have my own anecdotal stories of going and spending $100 on things like toilet paper and paper towels, but also online platforms. Facebook, Amazon, Craigslist, eBay. People are listing items there for goods at over 300% markup. And then on a large scale you have brokers preying on medical workers. Just in California, the FBI has revealed a major scam by a deceptive broker who was trying to sell a fake stockpile of 39,000,000 N95 masks to local, to a local labor union. Now the FBI caught wind of the deal while trying to see if it could actually intercept those masks and take that stockpile for the federal emergency management agency under the defense production act, which shows how competitive it’s getting out there for these personal protective gear.

Now, healthcare providers, including Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health, had reportedly already placed orders with that labor union for millions of masks before the deal actually fell apart. So if these bills pass, the goods and services that would be protected under that bill include hand sanitizer, personal protective equipment, other medical supplies, food, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products and so on. But with so many shortages and rampant competition between international nations, United States and the federal government, many worry that it’s not going to be enough to actually prevent these bad actors from taking advantage of people in need.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. A $3 or $4 mask that, what it should be is two to three to four. So, it depends. Selling for $12, $15 we get it and they’ve got to do something to stop all that. Brigida, thank you for joining me. Okay.

Brigida Santos: Thanks Mike.

Mike Papantonio: Finally tonight, some good news. A second federal court has ruled that the state of Florida cannot implement what’s been described as a poll tax to prevent former felons from being allowed to register to vote. The state government passed a measure last year requiring former felons to pay all of the costs and penalties associated with their incarceration before they can be allowed to register to vote, but the latest federal court ruling put an immediate end to that legislation. This means that the only route left for the state is to take it to the Supreme Court and because of the pandemic, the case has virtually no chance of being argued before the court before the 2020 election. Florida is the most important swing state in the general election and this ruling is going to have a massive impact on the 2020 presidential race. There is no indication that these former felons are going to vote for one party over the other or at all, but they certainly have the potential to change the electorate in Florida, which could likely change the federal government from this point forward.

That’s all for tonight. Find us on Twitter and Facebook at facebook.com/rtamericaslawyer. You can watch all RT America programs on Direct TV, Channel 321 and also stream on live on YouTube, and be sure to check out RT’s new portable app where you can watch any program you want, any of your favorite shows. I’m Mike Papantonio, and this is America’s Lawyer, where every week we’re going to tell you the stories that corporate media is ordered not to tell because their advertisers or the political connections don’t allow them to tell that story. Have a great night.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.