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GM news escalates: ‘whitewashing’ glyphosate, Monsanto papers, Michael Gove persuadable?

12 Nov

Der Spiegel reports that a court in San Francisco ordered U.S. agrochemical giant Monsanto to provide internal emails as evidence after about 2,000 plaintiffs demanded compensation from Monsanto in class-action suits. They claim that Roundup has caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of lymph node cancer, in them or members of their family.

More than 100 documents have revealed that Monsanto’s strategies for ‘whitewashing glyphosate’ have been revealed in internal e-mails, presentations and memos. They suggest the company concealed risks, making their publication a disaster for the company. The matter is also likely to be a topic of discussion at Bayer, the German chemical company in the process of acquiring Monsanto.

“The Monsanto Papers tell an alarming story of ghostwriting, scientific manipulation and the withholding of information,” says Michael Baum, a partner in the law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, which is bringing one of the US class actions. According to Baum, Monsanto used the same strategies as the tobacco industry: “creating doubt, attacking people, doing ghostwriting.”

On October 11th, the European Parliament’s Environment and Agriculture committee held a public hearing on The Monsanto Papers. 

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Despite this, the BBC reports that an EU vote has failed to resolve a controversy over the use of glyphosate, the world’s biggest-selling weedkiller. Glyphosate was introduced by US agrochemical giant Monsanto in 1974, but its patent expired in 2000, and now the chemical is sold by various manufacturers.

The European Commission said the vote fell short of the majority needed to renew the license for five years when it expires December 15, as only half of the 28 member states voted for its proposal. “Given that a qualified majority could not be reached … the result of the vote is ‘no opinion,'” said the commission, the EU’s executive and regulatory arm. An EU appeal committee will now try to rule on the issue. A qualified majority requires that 55% of EU countries vote in favour, and that the proposal is supported by countries representing at least 65% of the total EU population.

The UK was among the 14 states backing the Commission position on glyphosate. Nine voted against – including France and Italy. Germany was among the five who abstained.

But a reader sends the information that the environment secretary, Michael Gove, now says the UK will back a total ban on insect-harming pesticides in fields across Europe . . . Perhaps he can be persuaded to ban human-harming, resistance-forming glyphosate as well.

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Highlighting the Johnson & Johnson case for the sake of readers further afield

16 May

In the last three countries noted on our visitor list last week, news about the Johnson & Johnson case – though prominently featured in Western countries – was not seen in an online search, except for just one report on ‘Aztelevision’.

J&J and talc supplier Imerys Talc have been ordered to pay $110 million to a resident of Virginia who is currently undergoing chemotherapy after her ovarian cancer initially diagnosed in 2012 returned and spread to her liver. She claimed that she developed ovarian cancer after four decades of using the company’s talc-based products. The jury said the company did not adequately warn consumers of the cancer risks of such products, including Johnson’s Baby Powder.

Reuters reports that the verdict in state court in St. Louis was the largest so far to arise out of about 2,400 lawsuits accusing J&J of not adequately warning consumers about the cancer risks of talc-based products including its well-known Johnson’s Baby Powder.

The jury awarded $5.4 million in compensatory damages and said J&J was 99% at fault while Imerys was just 1%. It awarded punitive damages of $105 million against J&J and $50,000 against Imerys. Details of claims made by other people may be seen in Reuter’s report.

During searches on this topic, it was found that the ‘No More Tears’ Shampoo and 100 other baby products sold by Johnson & Johnson had once contained two potentially harmful chemicals, formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane. In 2011, the US National Toxicology Program described formaldehyde as “known to be a human carcinogen

In response to consumer pressure two years ago, the company pledged to remove both chemicals from its baby products and has done so.

 

 

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Will consumers be able to boycott purveyors of fluoridated water?

21 Oct

In April next year, all businesses and charities in England will be able to choose their water provider. Though the quality of the water would not improve, changing suppliers would be a gesture of support for companies that do not practice enforced medication with a neurotoxin.

It is said that this choice is likely to be extended to the residential sector after water regulator OFWAT has backed plans to bring competition to the residential retail water market and made these recommendations to the government. According to a report, the move, which would end the final retail monopoly, could be worth almost £3bn to the consumer with smaller bills and improved customer service.

welsh-waterThe writer would choose the only British-owned utility, Welsh Water – Dwr Cymru – a semi-mutual water company run on a not-for-profit basis, owned by the co-operative Glas Cymru, a single purpose company with no shareholders run solely for the benefit of customers.

Fleur Jones of Dwr Cymru’s Legal Departmentconfirms that Welsh Water does not fluoridate its water supplies.

She explains: “The Water Act 2003 amends the Water Industry Act 1991 which now states that water companies must follow the instruction of the Health Authority or in Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government. It does not now give the green light to water companies to fluoridate but means that, as stated above, the decision making process sits with those directly accountable to their local population. In practice in Wales this is likely to mean that decisions will rest with the National Assembly for Wales. Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water do not fluoridate any of our water supplies and we have not received any indication that the National Assembly for Wales intend to ask us to fluoridate any water supplies”.

Hats off to Welsh Water – who are avoiding the range of suspected health risks from fluoride – see research published in the BMJ which found higher levels of hyperthyroidism in the fluoridated West Midlands.

 

 

 

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People from these countries visited the site this week

19 Oct

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State induced illness? Gulf War medication, sheep dip, contaminated blood and fluoridated water

20 Aug

sheep dip peter tyrer

In all these cases the sufferers have one thing in common. The treatments have been supported or imposed by government which would have to pay compensation if they – or the courts – admitted the adverse effects of their policies.

A reader writes; “It’s amazing how powerful the legal action has been against J&J and how this brings the issue into the full glare of publicity and financially penalises the guilty party”. She says not so with fluoridation and asks:

  • Where are the plaintiffs?
  • Where is the publicity?
  • Where are the lawyers eager to go to court?
  • Where are the adverts from solicitors eager to attract talc-damaged clients?
  • Who would be the respondent?

Few will blow the whistle on government and take up these causes, though there are honourable exceptions:

Lord Alf Morris worked long and hard to obtain justice for some of these sufferers see a post on a sister site: https://politicalcleanup.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/alf-morris-who-died-on-sunday-an-mp-of-the-right-calibre/

MP (now Lord) Paul Tyler chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Organophosphates (OPs) for thirteen years and campaigned about their adverse effects on farmers (through sheep dip), pilots and cabin crew (through contaminated cabin air) and gulf war veterans (through pesticides used to repel insects). He also led a campaign to uncover the truth behind the Camelford Lowermoor Water Poisoning incident, and the ensuing cover-up, which occurred shortly before the Conservative Party privatised the water industry.

adams common good

                                                   above, President John Adams 

Until a government for the common good stands upright, without loyalty to corporations who pour funds into party coffers, there will be no justice for these victims.

 

 

 

Water fluoridation: Bedford councillors accept the Precautionary Principle

16 May

In April, Bedford’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee unanimously recommended that fluoride should NOT be added to Bedford’s water.

This followed a protracted two-year debate. Bedford Council will now have to consult Bedfordshire County Council and the Secretary of State will eventually be involved in their decision. The issue could then go out to consultation and the public will be asked to respond within 3 months.

bedford cllrs fluoridationA video made by Fluoride Free Bedford includes footage of the council reflecting on this important decision.

Councillor Anthony Forth (below) issued the following statement:

bedford cllr quoted“I would like to propose that following the review process, this committee recommends a termination of the existing water fluoridation scheme, subject to the necessary consultations that are outlined on pages 26 to 28.

“I think that the evidence in favour of water fluoridation does seem extremely dated… On the other hand, a number of the pieces of evidence of dis-benefits are not as scientifically rigorous as we might like.

I think that as a group we’re happy to accept the Precautionary Principle that there isn’t strong evidence for re-introducing fluoride, so therefore we should not go ahead.”

Professor K.K. Cheng (professor of epidemiology, University of Birmingham) and his colleagues Iain Chalmers, editor, and Trevor A Sheldon,  professor and pro-vice chancellor. co-authored Adding fluoride to water supplies: US National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health

They reflected, in similar vein, that public and professional bodies need to balance benefits and risks, individual rights, and social values in an even handed manner. Those opposing fluoridation often claim that it does not reduce caries and sometimes overstate the evidence on harm. On the other hand, the Department of Health’s objectivity is questionable—it funded the British Fluoridation Society and, along with many other supporters of fluoridation, it used the York review’s findings selectively to give an overoptimistic assessment of the evidence in favour of fluoridation: Wilson PM, Sheldon TA. Muddy waters: evidence-based policy making, uncertainty and the “York review” on water fluoridation. Evidence Policy 2006: 2:321-31.

In response to the Medical Research Council recommendations, the department commissioned research on the bioavailability of fluoride from naturally and artificially fluoridated drinking water. The study had only 20 participants and was too small to give reliable results. Despite this it formed the basis of a series of claims by government for the safety of fluoridation.

The Cheng study ends: “Against this backdrop of one sided handling of the evidence, the public distrust in the information it receives is understandable. We hope this article helps provide professionals and the public with a framework for engaging constructively in public consultations”.

 

 

 

 

Christmas greetings from Richard Bruce

23 Dec

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