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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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
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While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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