Monsanto Fights Back Against Cancer Lawsuits as Company Eliminates 12% of Workforce
[Update: On Oct. 9, EcoWatch was provided documentation regarding the Judi Fitzgerald vs. Monsanto Company lawsuit filed in New York. The documentation dated Oct. 6, says, "Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4l(a)(l)(A)(i), Plaintiff Judi Fitzgerald, by and through her undersigned counsel, hereby gives notice that the above-action against Defendant Monsanto Company is voluntarily dismissed without prejudice."
Update: On Oct. 15, EcoWatch contacted Weitz & Luxenberg, the law firm representing Judi Fitzgerald. Robin Greenwald, the head of the firm's environmental law unit, said that the case was refiled in Delaware: “For clarification, we added Ms. Fitzgerald to a complaint we filed in Delaware. So we dismissed the suit in New York and refiled in Delaware state court, closer to her home and where Monsanto is incorporated.”]
#Monsanto Sued by Farm Workers Claiming #Roundup Caused Their Cancers http://t.co/NRhlrUScrR @GMOjournal #GMO http://t.co/l0qMxc5qaW— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1443625562.0
“We believe that glyphosate is safe for human health when used as labeled,” Monsanto's spokesperson Charla Lord told Bloomberg via email.
Lord also said that while Monsanto is sympathetic to individuals experiencing health problems, she added that the latest lawsuits brought against the company are “without merit.”
The first suit was filed in Los Angeles late last month by 58-year-old former field worker Enrique Rubio, who was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1995. He believes his exposure to Roundup and other pesticides led to his diagnosis. That same day, 64-year-old assistant horticulturalist Judi Fitzgerald filed suit in New York City, making similar claims. Fitzgerald was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012.
The plaintiffs also accuse Monsanto of falsifying data and leading a "prolonged campaign of misinformation" to sway the public, farm workers and government agencies about the safety of the herbicide.
These lawsuits come six months after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer arm of the World Health Organization, reported that glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic to humans."
The plaintiffs are heavily relying on these findings in their cases. The IARC report “confirms what has been believed for years: that glyphosate is toxic to humans,” Bloomberg reported.
Monsanto will eliminate 12% of workforce, forecasting 2016 earnings that trail expectations http://t.co/NpcRhdVJCD http://t.co/j6CLhKiwAn— Bloomberg (@Bloomberg)1444274123.0
Monsanto has demanded a retraction of the WHO report and will "vigorously" defend itself against the lawsuits.
“Decades of experience within agriculture and regulatory reviews using the most extensive worldwide human health databases ever compiled on an agricultural product contradict the claims in the suit which will be vigorously defended,” Lord said.
The plaintiffs also cite Roundup bans in the Netherlands, France, Bermuda and other countries in their case, Bloomberg pointed out.
Fitzgerald and Rubio are both represented by Weitz & Luxenberg, a prominent New York City-based plaintiffs' law firm which specializes in asbestos disease, environmental pollutants, and dangerous drugs and medical devices.
The same firm happens to be representing the town and school districts of Westport, Massachusetts that filed suit against Monsanto last year to recover the costs of removing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from their schools.
Meanwhile, the world's largest seed company has seen slumping profits and announced Wednesday it will cut 2,600 jobs, or 12 percent of its 22,500-employee workforce, over the next two years.
Monsanto Co. said Wednesday it will eliminate 2,600 jobs. http://t.co/LwBiWwYOUd https://t.co/0RXijts30s #Monsanto http://t.co/Gl4tdujMLN— GMO Inside (@GMO Inside)1444271900.0
The move was a "part of a cost-saving plan designed to deal with falling sales of its biotech seeds and herbicides, which pushed its quarterly losses deeper into the red," the Associated Press reported.
Monsanto reported a $495 million loss for its fiscal fourth quarter. Sales of its best-selling product, biotech corn seeds, fell 5 percent to $598 million, and the company's chemical business, led by Roundup weed killer, also fell 12 percent to $1.1 billion.
It's no secret that the multinational biotech and agricultural firm has had a rough year. Last month, California’s Environmental Protection Agency issued plans to list glyphosate as known to cause cancer. Additionally, an appeals court in Lyon, France upheld a 2012 ruling against Monsanto, in which the company was found guilty of the chemical poisoning of a farmer named Paul François. Most of the European Union has also decided to "opt out" of growing the company's genetically modified maize.
And we let them spray, & poison, our farmland? RT @prabalgurung: French Court - Monsanto Guilty of Chemical Poisoning http://t.co/ssG3JVzjBj— Sophia Bush (@Sophia Bush)1443068057.0
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By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.