Jury to Decide if Monsanto PCBs Caused Plaintiffs’ Cancer
Monsanto’s controversial history with PCBs is being played out in trial in California state court this week, as the agrochemical giant has been accused of causing two retired plaintiffs to develop cancer.
The civil lawsuit, Dauber, et al. v. Monsanto Co., et al, regards plaintiffs Roslyn Dauber, 62, and John Di Costanzo, 87, who both claim that their non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was caused by eating PCB-contaminated food for years, Courtroom View Network (CVN) reported.
PCBs, or Polychlorinated Biphenyls, are man-made chemicals once used to insulate electronics decades ago. Before switching operations to agriculture, Monsanto was the sole manufacturer of the compound, raking a reported $22 million in business a year. But when PCBs were found to be highly toxic, the company stopped production of them in 1977 over human health and environmental concerns.
Still, the pervasive legacy of PCBs remains. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned them in 1979, saying:
PCBs have caused birth defects and cancer in laboratory animals, and they are a suspected cause of cancer and adverse skin and liver effects in humans. EPA estimates that 150 million pounds of PCBs are dispersed throughout the environment, including air and water supplies; an additional 290 million pounds are located in landfills in this country.
Countless individuals, school districts as well as major U.S. cities have since slammed Monsanto with lawsuits for cleanup costs, environmental pollution and for claims that exposure to PCBs causes health problems to people and wildlife.
#Seattle Sues #Monsanto Over #PCB Contamination, Becomes 6th City to Do So https://t.co/wGnsemWt1b @nongmoreport https://t.co/VYOJVFzn5I— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1453912131.0
On Thursday, plaintiff attorney Scott Frieling of Dallas-based law firm Allen Stewart PC delivered an opening statement to jurors and Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge J. Stephen Czuleger about the history of PCBs, the difficulty in removing them from the environment and how these chemicals make their way into the food chain.
“They are virtually indestructible,” Frieling said. “Once PCBs are created, they will last a very long time.”
Frieling also touched on how Monsanto allegedly knew that PCBs were toxic for decades but continued production of the profitable compound anyway.
According to CVN:
Frieling showed jurors internal Monsanto documents dating back to the 1950’s that he claimed would prove the company knew for decades that PCBs posed a substantial public health risk but falsely represented them as being safe.
Freiling told jurors it was easy to link the PCBs in Dauber and Di Costanzo’s bodies to Monsanto, because the company produced 99 percent of the compounds sold in the United States. He claimed Monsanto intentionally avoided long-term safety testing on PCBs and instead publicized the results of short-term tests which didn’t allow enough time for negative health effects to become evident.
In response, Monsanto attorney Anthony Upshaw of Chicago-based law firm McDermott Will & Emery LLP argued that it could not be definitively proven that PCBs caused the plaintiffs' cancer and that many people who have the same amounts of PCBs in their bodies never suffer any adverse effects, CVN reported.
“The evidence simply doesn’t support the assertion that the historic use of PCB products was the cause of the plaintiffs’ harms,” Monsanto spokeswoman Charla Marie Lord told CVN. “We are confident that the jury will conclude, as past juries have done, that the former Monsanto Company is not responsible for the alleged injuries.”
She also added that Monsanto’s involvement in the trial stems from contractual obligations associated with former chemical businesses that operated under the company's name, and that Monsanto today is focused solely on agriculture.
The current trial is expected to run through the end of March. Previous rulings over PCBs lawsuits, however, have ruled in favor of Monsanto. CVN noted that a Los Angeles jury and a Missouri state court jury handed the company wins in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Incidentally, a current House bill could give Monsanto permanent immunity from liability for injuries caused by PCBs. The New York Times reported last month that Republicans in Congress have inserted a clause into the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reauthorization bill that would effectively exempt Monsanto from liability for injuries caused by PCBs.
Environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who has sparred over PCBs for three decades, wrote this week that the "so-called 'Monsanto Rider' would shield the chemical colossus from thousands of lawsuits by cities, towns, school districts and individuals, who have been injured by exposure to PCBs."
"If Monsanto gets its way, the American people will pay a high price for corporate greed and political corruption," Kennedy said.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
- Israeli Oil Spill Is a 'Severe Ecological Disaster' - EcoWatch ›
- Endangered Sea Turtles Recovering After 'Cold Stunning' Event ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
As the weather grows more severe, and its damages more expensive and fatal, current weather predictions fall short in providing reliable information on Earth's rapidly changing systems.
- Are New Extreme Global Warming Projections Correct? - EcoWatch ›
- Are We Really Past the Point of No Return on Climate? Scientists ... ›
By Brett Wilkins
Accusing California regulators of "reckless disregard" for public "health and safety," the environmental advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday sued the administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom for approving thousands of oil and gas drilling and fracking projects without the required environmental review.
- New Bill Seeks to Ban Fracking in California - EcoWatch ›
- Fracking Likely Triggered Earthquakes in California a Few Miles ... ›
- California Won't Buy From Automakers 'on the Wrong Side of History ... ›
- Chevron Has Spilled 800,000 Gallons of Crude Oil and Water Into a ... ›
By Kate Whiting
From Greta Thunberg to Sir David Attenborough, the headline-grabbing climate change activists and environmentalists of today are predominantly white. But like many areas of society, those whose voices are heard most often are not necessarily representative of the whole.
1. Wangari Maathai<p>In 2004, Professor Maathai made history as the <a href="https://www.nobelpeaceprize.org/Prize-winners/Prizewinner-documentation/Wangari-Maathai" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize</a> for her dedication to sustainable development, democracy and peace. She started the <a href="http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Green Belt Movement</a>, a community-based tree planting initiative that aims to reduce poverty and encourage conservation, in 1977. More than 51 million trees have been planted helping build climate resilience and empower communities, especially women and girls. Her environmental work is celebrated every year on <a href="http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/node/955" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Wangari Maathai Day on 3 March</a>.</p>
2. Robert Bullard<p>Known as the 'father of environmental justice,' Dr Bullard has <a href="https://www.unep.org/championsofearth/laureates/2020/robert-bullard" target="_blank">campaigned against harmful waste</a> being dumped in predominantly Black neighborhoods in the southern states of the U.S. since the 1970s. His first book, Dumping in Dixie, highlighted the link between systemic racism and environmental oppression, showing how the descendants of slaves were exposed to higher-than-average levels of pollutants. In 1994, his work led to the signing of the <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/albert-huang/20th-anniversary-president-clintons-executive-order-12898-environmental-justice" target="_blank">Executive Order on Environmental Justice</a>, which the <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/27/executive-order-on-tackling-the-climate-crisis-at-home-and-abroad/" target="_blank">Biden administration is building on</a>.<br></p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7983f54726debdd824f97f9ad3bdbb87"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/T_VjSGk8s18?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Pollution has a race problem. Elizabethwarren.com
3. John Francis<p>Helping the clean-up operation after an oil spill in San Francisco Bay in January 1971 inspired Francis to <a href="https://planetwalk.org/about-john/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stop taking motorized transport</a>. Instead, for 22 years, he walked everywhere. He also took a vow of silence that lasted 17 years, so he could listen to others. He has walked the width of the U.S. and sailed and walked through South America, earning the nickname "Planetwalker," and raising awareness of how interconnected people are with the environment.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="09b968e0e9964e31406954dcea45981d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vgQjL23_FoU?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
4. Dr. Warren Washington<p>A meteorology and climate pioneer, Dr. Washington was one of the first people to develop atmospheric computer models in the 1960s, which have helped scientists understand climate change. These models now also incorporate the oceans and sea ice, surface water and vegetation. In 2007, the <a href="https://www.cgd.ucar.edu/pcm/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Parallel Climate Model (PCM)</a> and <a href="https://www.cesm.ucar.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Community Earth System Model (CESM)</a>, earned Dr. Washington and his colleagues the <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/2007/summary/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Nobel Peace Prize</a>, as part of the <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change</a>.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="09fbf6dc37f275f438a0d53ec0fe1874"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bvJ4jTy2mTk?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
5. Angelou Ezeilo<p>Huge trees and hikes to pick berries during her childhood in upstate New York inspired Ezeilo to become an environmentalist and set up the <a href="https://gyfoundation.org/staff/Angelou-Ezeilo" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Greening Youth Foundation</a>, to educate future generations about the importance of preservation. Through its schools program and Youth Conservation Corps, the social enterprise provides access to nature to disadvantaged children and young people in the U.S. and West Africa. In 2019, Ezeilo published her book <em>Engage, Connect, Protect: Empowering Diverse Youth as Environmental Leaders</em>, co-written by her Pulitzer Prize-winning brother Nick Chiles.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ce4547d4e5c0b9ad2927f19fd75bf4ab"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/YojKMfUvJMs?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
- Youth Climate Activists Want a Role in Biden's White House ... ›
- As Protests Rage, Climate Activists Embrace Racial Justice ... ›
- The Power of Inclusive, Intergenerational Climate Activism - EcoWatch ›