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California Widow Sues Monsanto Alleging Roundup Caused Her Husband's Cancer
A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Monsanto Co. by the widow of a prominent Cambria, California farmer alleging that Monsanto had known for years that exposure to glyphosate—the main ingredient in the agribusiness giant's flagship weedkiller Roundup—could cause cancer and other serious illnesses or injuries.
The lawsuit, which seeks wrongful death and punitive damages, was filed today in Los Angeles federal court by attorneys Michael Baum, Cynthia Garber and Brent Wisner of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. of Kennedy & Madonna on behalf of Teri McCall.
Teri McCall claims Roundup caused her husband of 40-years, Anthony Jackson “Jack" McCall, to develop terminal cancer after he used the herbicide on his 20-acre fruit and vegetable farm for nearly 30 years.
According to a press release from the law firms, Jack McCall was admitted to a hospital in September 2015 to treat swollen lymph nodes in his neck. He found out that same day that the swelling was caused by anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare and aggressive version of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Glyphosate, which is the most widely applied pesticide worldwide, was declared as “probably carcinogenic to humans" last March by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The organization also observed that non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other haematopoietic cancers are the cancers most associated with glyphosate exposure.
Following the IARC's decision, California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) issued plans in September to add glyphosate to the state's list of chemicals known to cause cancer, making it the first state in the country to do so.
After his cancer diagnosis, Jack McCall stopped using Roundup on his farm after learning of the product's link to cancer. Three months after his diagnosis, Jack suffered a severe stroke on Christmas Eve 2015 due to complications with his cancer treatment. He died Dec. 26, 2015 at the age of 69.
Monsanto, however, has long maintained the safety of their widely popular product, which generated $4.8 billion in 2015 revenue. The biotech firm has also vehemently denied glyphosate's link to cancer, demanding a retraction of the IARC's report and also filing suit to prevent California from listing the chemical as a known carcinogen.
"Glyphosate is the product of both modern chemistry and a profoundly corrupt corporate culture," Kennedy told EcoWatch. "It is sad for our country and our people that such a powerful economic leader can only be trusted to put private greed before public health."
McCall's complaint alleges that Monsanto failed to adequately warn farmers that Roundup causes cancer; that the company designed a dangerous and defective product; that the company committed gross negligence in the creation and promotion of Roundup; and that it defrauded millions of farmers, including Jack McCall, about the safety of the herbicide.
The lawsuit also alleges that, rather than inform the public about the dangers, Monsanto engaged in a prolonged campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers and the general population that Roundup weed killer was safe, even when a number of studies had shown otherwise.
"Law abiding citizens need to start treating Monsanto for what it is; an outlaw Corporation," Kennedy added.
In addition to being a farmer, Jack McCall worked as a postman for nearly two decades and was awarded a Bronze Star and Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in the Vietnam War. He is survived by his wife, three adult children and two grandchildren.
“Mounting evidence suggests that Monsanto knew about the hazards posed by glyphosate exposure, but failed to disclose this information to the public," Kennedy said in a statement. “Any time a corporation markets a harmful product to consumers as safe for use, it must be held accountable for the damage caused by that product."
The press release noted that three years before Jack McCall's cancer diagnosis, the family's dog, Duke, developed lymphoma and died from the disease. According to the release, "Duke spent his life roaming the farm and sticking his nose into everything he could, including areas where Jack McCall was spraying with Roundup."
In recent news, France, The Netherlands, Sweden and Italy have raised concerns over the herbicide's health risks and have successfully postponed a vote to relicense the controversial chemical in the European Union.
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Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.
Last week we received positive news on the border wall's imminent construction in an Arizona wildlife refuge. The Trump administration delayed construction of the wall through about 60 miles of federal wildlife preserves.