Monsanto Cancer Ruling Sparks Backlash Around the Globe
Glyphosate, the world's most popular herbicide, is at the center of international scrutiny after a San Francisco court on Friday decided in favor of a California school groundskeeper with terminal cancer.
The jury ruled that the plaintiff, Dewayne "Lee" Johnson, developed cancer from repeated exposure to Roundup, Monsanto's widely used glyphosate-based weedkiller, and ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages.
The landmark jury ruling, which could open the door for roughly 4,000 similar U.S. lawsuits against Monsanto, sparked outcry around the world.
Germany's Bayer, which purchased Monsanto this year for $63 billion, also purchased a potential mountain of legal costs. Shareholders are certainly spooked. Bayer's stock tumbled as much as 14 percent on Monday, losing about 12 billion euros ($14 billion) in market value, Reuters reported.
Bayer defended the safety of glyphosate and said it would appeal the verdict. "The jury's verdict is at odds with the weight of scientific evidence, decades of real world experience and the conclusions of regulators around the world that all confirm glyphosate is safe and does not cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma," the company said in a statement to Reuters.
Glyphosate, the most-used herbicide in the European Union, has been the subject of fierce debate in Europe for years. Last year, the European Commission extended its license for five years, but the ruling in San Francisco has reinvigorated calls for a ban.
"We must fight the invasion of this substance in our market, a threat that exists due to monstrous commercial agreements signed only in the name of profit," Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio wrote on Facebook over the weekend.
France's Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot described the verdict as the "beginning of a war" against glyphosate in Europe. "If we wait, such poisons will not be prevented from doing their damage and the victims will be excessively numerous," he said to BFM radio.
Italy and France are moving towards a phase-out of the chemical. Germany aims to end use of glyphosate in this legislative period, which ends in three years, Reuters reported. In April, German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner announced she was drafting rules to stop use of glyphosate in the country's home gardens, parks and sports facilities.
Activists told Times of India on Monday that Friday's verdict in California should prompt a nationwide ban.
"Our organization has already filed a petition with the ministry of agriculture with thousands of signatures seeking the ban on glyphosate. However the government has not taken any action so far," Kathiva Kuruganti of Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture told the publication.
Glyphosate is widely used on herbicide-tolerant cotton in India. In May, India's Supreme Court refused to stay the Delhi High Court's ruling that Monsanto cannot claim patents for Bollgard and Bollgard II, its genetically modified cotton seeds, in the country. Monsanto first introduced its GM-technology in India in 1995. Today, more than 90 percent of the country's cotton crop is genetically modified.
On the heels of the ruling in California, Greenpeace is urging the Australian government to restrict sales of Monsanto's weedkillers, which is sold in shops across the country.
"Use of this dangerous product should be severely restricted," Jamie Hanson, Greenpeace's head of campaigns, told Guardian Australia."
Hanson added, "Roundup is widely available for sale in Australia ... potentially exposing millions of people to its harmful effects. This case is only the first of hundreds that have been filed in the U.S. claiming Roundup causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma. We have no idea how far this will spread and how many more are to come."
Shares of Australia's Nufarm, which contains glyphosate, fell 17 percent Monday after the cancer finding in California, Reuters reported.
"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and regulatory authorities around the world, including Australia, support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer," spokeswoman for Monsanto in Australia told Guardian Australia.
Jury Finds #Monsanto Liable in the First #Roundup Cancer Trial – Here’s What Could Happen Next… https://t.co/DmkHOcs71F— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1534194307.0
New fossils uncovered in Argentina may belong to one of the largest animals to have walked on Earth.
- Groundbreaking Fossil Shows Prehistoric 15-Foot Reptile Tried to ... ›
- Skull of Smallest Known Dinosaur Found in 99-Million-Year Old Amber ›
- Giant 'Toothed' Birds Flew Over Antarctica 40 Million Years Ago ... ›
- World's Second-Largest Egg Found in Antarctica Probably Hatched ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- Pruitt Guts the Clean Power Plan: How Weak Will the New EPA ... ›
- It's Official: Trump Administration to Repeal Clean Power Plan ... ›
- 'Deadly' Clean Power Plan Replacement ›
By Jonathan Runstadler and Kaitlin Sawatzki
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have found coronavirus infections in pet cats and dogs and in multiple zoo animals, including big cats and gorillas. These infections have even happened when staff were using personal protective equipment.
- Gorillas in San Diego Test Positive for Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
- Wildlife Rehabilitators Are Overwhelmed During the Pandemic. In ... ›
- Coronavirus Pandemic Linked to Destruction of Wildlife and World's ... ›
- Utah Mink Becomes First Wild Animal to Test Positive for Coronavirus ›
By Peter Giger
The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19 by governments, businesses and individuals seems to provide hope that we can react to the climate change crisis in a similarly decisive manner - but history tells us that humans do not react to slow-moving and distant threats.
A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
Is it Time to Declare a Climate Emergency?<p>At what stage, and at what rise in global temperatures, will these tipping points be reached? No one is entirely sure. It may take centuries, millennia or it could be imminent.</p><p>But as COVID-19 taught us, we need to prepare for the expected. We were aware of the risk of a pandemic. We also knew that we were not sufficiently prepared. But we didn't act in a meaningful manner. Thankfully, we have been able to fast-track the production of vaccines to combat COVID-19. But there is no vaccine for climate change once we have passed these tipping points.</p><p><a href="https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2021" target="_blank">We need to act now on our climate</a>. Act like these tipping points are imminent. And stop thinking of climate change as a slow-moving, long-term threat that enables us to kick the problem down the road and let future generations deal with it. We must take immediate action to reduce global warming and fulfill our commitments to the <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Paris Agreement</a>, and build resilience with these tipping points in mind.</p><p>We need to plan now to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but we also need to plan for the impacts, such as the ability to feed everyone on the planet, develop plans to manage flood risk, as well as manage the social and geopolitical impacts of human migrations that will be a consequence of fight or flight decisions.</p><p>Breaching these tipping points would be cataclysmic and potentially far more devastating than COVID-19. Some may not enjoy hearing these messages, or consider them to be in the realm of science fiction. But if it injects a sense of urgency to make us respond to climate change like we have done to the pandemic, then we must talk more about what has happened before and will happen again.</p><p>Otherwise we will continue playing Jenga with our planet. And ultimately, there will only be one loser – us.</p>
By John R. Platt
The period of the 45th presidency will go down as dark days for the United States — not just for the violent insurgency and impeachment that capped off Donald Trump's four years in office, but for every regressive action that came before.
- Biden Announces $2 Trillion Climate and Green Recovery Plan ... ›
- How Biden and Kerry Can Rebuild America's Climate Leadership ... ›
- Biden's EPA Pick Michael Regan Urged to Address Environmental ... ›
- How Joe Biden's Climate Plan Compares to the Green New Deal ... ›