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posted by janrinok on Tuesday July 29 2014, @05:56PM   Printer-friendly
from the big-wins-can-happen-in-small-places dept.

Natural Society reports

The West Virginia State Supreme Court finalized a big blow to the biotech giant Monsanto this month, finishing a settlement causing Monsanto to pay $93 million to the tiny town of Nitro, West Virginia for poisoning citizens with Agent Orange chemicals. The settlement was approved last year, but details were worked out only weeks ago as to how the funds were to be spent.

The settlement will require Monsanto to do the following:

  • $9 million will be spent to clean dioxin contaminated dust from 4500 homes.
  • $21 million will be spent to test to see if people have been poisoned with dioxin.
  • Citizens will be monitored for such poisoning for 30 years, not just a few months.
  • An additional $63 million is to be allotted if additional tests for dioxin contamination testing is necessary.
  • Anyone who lived in the Nitro area between Jan. 1, 1948, and Sept. 3, 2010 will be tested for dioxin. Although they must show proof they lived in the area, they will be eligible for testing even if they no longer live in Nitro.
  • Former or present employees of Monsanto are not eligible for any of these benefits.
  • An office will be set up to organize testing for Nitro citizens. The registration of participants is to be overlooked by Charleston attorney Thomas Flaherty, who was appointed by the court.
  • Residents have a right to file individual suits against Monsanto if medical tests show they suffered physical harm due to dioxin exposure.

Related Stories

RoundUp Glyphosate Found to Cause Kidney Failure and Elude Tests 39 comments

Monsanto's RoundUp, a widely used pesticide, uses the active ingredient Glyphosate and it may be up for another serious beating. Medical specialists and scientists in Sri Lanka has found that when glyphosate comes in contact with heavy metals like cadmium, arsenic, manganese and cobalt which exist naturally in the soil or fertilizer, it becomes highly toxic and has a high likelihood of causing fatal kidney disease for anyone that comes into contact with it. And because the substance binds to metals it will not show up in current tests. The report (and another one) is published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and has resulted in that the Sri Lanka president to ban glyphosate immediately.

Exposure to glyphosate causes a drop in amino acid tryptophan levels, which interrupts the necessary active signalling of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is associated with weight gain, depression, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. The report show that industry and regulators knew as long ago as the 1980's and 1990's that glyphosate causes malformation, but that information was not made public. Glyphosate is also a teratogenic.

Monsanto has been in the news quite recently.

Monsanto No More 52 comments

Monsanto, a brand name activists love to hate, will disappear as Bayer takes over:

These days Monsanto is shorthand for, as NPR's Dan Charles has put it, "lots of things that some people love to hate": Genetically modified crops, which Monsanto invented. Seed patents, which Monsanto has fought to defend. Herbicides such as Monsanto's Roundup, which protesters have sharply criticized for its possible health risks. Big agriculture in general, of which Monsanto was the reviled figurehead.

And soon Monsanto will be no more. Bayer, the German pharmaceutical giant and pesticide powerhouse, announced in 2016 it would be buying Monsanto in an all-cash deal for more than $60 billion. Now, as the merger approaches, Bayer has confirmed what many suspected: In the merger, the politically charged name "Monsanto" will be disappearing. The combined company will be known simply as Bayer, while product names will remain the same. The move is not exactly a surprise — it makes sense that Bayer might want to weed out some of the intense negative associations associated with the Monsanto brand. In a way, it's an indication of how successful anti-Monsanto protesters have been in shaping public perception.

In the company's latest statement, Bayer implicitly acknowledged how hostile debates over genetically modified crops and other agricultural products have become. "We aim to deepen our dialogue with society. We will listen to our critics and work together where we find common ground," the chairman of Bayer's board of management, Werner Baumann, said in the statement. "Agriculture is too important to allow ideological differences to bring progress to a standstill. We have to talk to each other. We need to listen to each other. It's the only way to build bridges."

Also at Reuters.

Previously: Bayer AG Offers to Buy Monsanto
Bayer Purchases Monsanto for Around $66 Billion

Roundup: Monsanto Ordered to Pay $93M to Small Town for Poisoning Citizens
RoundUp Glyphosate Found to Cause Kidney Failure and Elude Tests
Cancer Hazard vs. Risk - Glyphosate
Use of Dicamba-Resistant Monsanto Crops Leads to Soybean Death
GMO Grass That 'Escaped' Defies Eradication, Divides Grass Seed Industry
Glyphosate Linked to Liver Damage


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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:07PM

    by VLM (445) on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:07PM (#75168)

    "$9 million will be spent to clean dioxin contaminated dust from 4500 homes"

    Hmmm $2K per house. From tangential involvement with remediation companies, that means they'll barely sweep the floors. That's like one asbestos removal team working one day, or so.

    Is there a typo and they meant $9B or $90M? That'll get some serious remediation work done.

    My wife had a rather large piece of family furniture stripped because of century (centuries?) old lead paint and the EPA certified whatever to strip it was about $500 so I'm not thinking 4 times as much will help. So you can't even strip contaminated paint off the outside walls for that. And thats only maybe a fifth of a roof, although that varies.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Alfred on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:19PM

      by Alfred (4006) on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:19PM (#75178) Journal

      Given that the company didn't have issue with using agent orange stateside, for who knows what reason, they will probably clean the dust with compressed air blowing it to the neighbor, get it certified clean, just to blow it back from the neighbor the next day. You could do that for under 2k each.

      Still why use agent orange here? Was this like that carcinogen dispersion in St. Louis thing? Massive scale experiments?

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:08PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:08PM (#75169)

    Monsanto's net income in 2013: $14.86 billion

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:09PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:09PM (#75171)

    Why would the employees not be eligible? Not all of them worked on the stuff, so i think that's not fair.

    • (Score: 2) by Sir Garlon on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:24PM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:24PM (#75181)

      I'm guessing, maybe their medical screening has already been taken care of under another agreement or policy.

      --
      [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 29 2014, @10:28PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 29 2014, @10:28PM (#75288)

        I'm guessing, maybe their medical screening has already been taken no care of under another agreement or policy. FTFY

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by dbe on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:10PM

    by dbe (1422) on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:10PM (#75172)

    >>Former or present employees of Monsanto are not eligible for any of these benefits.

    So I guess there was no employee leaving in Nitro town?
    Gotta love your legal right to poison your employees.

    -dbe

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bziman on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:12PM

    by bziman (3577) on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:12PM (#75175)

    This is a drop in the bucket for a company the size of Monsanto, and they'll just pass the cost on to their customers. If I poisoned a city, I'd go to jail. Where are the jail sentences for the people who allowed this? Corporations are people, right, until it comes to accountability.

    • (Score: 2) by Alfred on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:28PM

      by Alfred (4006) on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:28PM (#75183) Journal

      Not only that, they pay nothing to individuals and 2/3s of it isn't going anywhere yet.

      An additional $63 million is to be allotted if additional tests for dioxin contamination testing is necessary

      That is a very big portion resting on a very big conditional and it only goes to more testing. The whole thing is chump change to a big corp and they can probably weasel out of most of it.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30 2014, @01:47AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30 2014, @01:47AM (#75345)

      This can only be the beginning for the money roll.
      Watch how scary it gets when they figure out it actually pays to poison cities.

      How much is that testing equipment going to cost?
      Who is providing it?
      What affiliations to government do they have?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30 2014, @09:08AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30 2014, @09:08AM (#75433)

      Here a good rule of thumb: Any time you're thinning about writing or saying "they'll just pass the cost on to their customers" stop and think for a bit. Because it's almost always a really dumb thing to say. If a company could successfully raise prices they almost certainly would have already done so, without the need to "pass along" some cost. Cost does not determine pricing. It doesn't have much influence at all unless everybody has the same costs.

      • (Score: 1) by bziman on Wednesday July 30 2014, @06:04PM

        by bziman (3577) on Wednesday July 30 2014, @06:04PM (#75620)

        Advice: if you're going to call someone "dumb", make sure you spell check your post before hitting submit.

        • (Score: 1) by Max Hyre on Saturday August 02 2014, @03:24PM

          by Max Hyre (3427) <reversethis-{moc.oohay} {ta} {eryhxam}> on Saturday August 02 2014, @03:24PM (#76731)
             I.e.: ``My hair's been thinning for years.'' It would take a damned good grammar checker to catch that one, and I suspect there aren't any that good.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04 2014, @08:16AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04 2014, @08:16AM (#77125)

          Good point. Because a typo that resolves to another English word is the important part of the post. Well spotted!

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08 2014, @10:14AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08 2014, @10:14AM (#78781)

          You weren't called dumb, you said a dumb thing. The two are not the same. Take the opportunity to learn from it, not merely feel insulted.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by subs on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:16PM

    by subs (4485) on Tuesday July 29 2014, @06:16PM (#75177)

    Shouldn't they be suing the US military who developed it and contracted Monsanto (among others) to produce this crap? Or is because this particular factory somehow released harmful byproduct in the course of production when this was avoidable? If it's the former, then theoretically every weapons manufacturer in the US could be liable for how its products are used. If it's the latter, then it's pretty obvious they should have been smacked down by the regulatory agencies much earlier for environmental pollution.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by kaszz on Tuesday July 29 2014, @07:46PM

    by kaszz (4211) on Tuesday July 29 2014, @07:46PM (#75212) Journal

    Monsanto will perhaps feel the pain from this too soon..
    Monsanto’s Glyphosate + Heavy Metals = Fatal Kidney Disease [cellularinnergy.com]

    Karma is a bitch..!

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 29 2014, @09:44PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 29 2014, @09:44PM (#75274)

    Another Monsanto article?

    Do you want this site to be another InfoWars, or an actual tech site?

    Cue the 9/11 inside job articles in 5..4..3...oh wait, I have an appointment to go play hacky sack.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Gaaark on Wednesday July 30 2014, @12:48AM

      by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 30 2014, @12:48AM (#75329) Journal

      Cue the hacky sack articles in 5...4...3... oh wait, I have time to (try) to play Settlers of Catan!

      --
      --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by aristarchus on Wednesday July 30 2014, @02:24AM

      by aristarchus (2645) on Wednesday July 30 2014, @02:24AM (#75354) Journal

      Better living through chemistry was the motto if I.G. Farbin, you know, the German company that made chemicals to get rid of infestations! Monsato is guilty of equal crimes against humanity, only more indirectly, resulting in Indian farmers selling kidneys to afford intellectual property in seeds. I say copy the buggers! Seeds are not copywriteable! Food? Merde, I could live forever without any of the crap that the RIAA claims to own, but you mess with food, who do you think actually has the pitchforks, and knows how to make torches? (Oh, Hi, Nabi!)

  • (Score: 2) by nightsky30 on Wednesday July 30 2014, @11:53AM

    by nightsky30 (1818) on Wednesday July 30 2014, @11:53AM (#75473)

    If we were smart we'd focus on engineering the plants to withstand insects and harsher climates versus just engineering them to withstand larger amounts of pesticides. Those toxins gets absorbed, and we're eating it. Monsanto poisons more than just WV city of Nitro.