News regarding the dangers of GMOs and biotech, and the advantages of organic sustainable agriculture.

Judge Rejects Monsanto’s Bid to Overturn Glyphosate Conviction but Reduces Punitive Damages from $250 Million to $39 Million

Earlier this week (October 2018) San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos rejected Monsanto’s appeal to overturn the jury verdict which found that glyphosate in the herbicide RoundUp causes cancer. Judge Bolanos had earlier hinted that she might overturn the jury's verdict, and eliminate the $250 million in punitive damages. While denying Monsanto's attorneys their request for a new trial, Judge Bolanos did reduce the punitive damages from $250 million to $39 million, the same amount (39 million) that was awarded to the plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, who is not expected to live much longer due to his cancer diagnosis. Judge Bolanos also stated that if Dewayne Johnson and his attorneys did not accept the reduction in punitive damages, that she would order a new trial. Johnson’s lawyers said in a statement that the “reduction in punitive damages was unwarranted” and that his legal team, Baum Hedlund and the Miller Firm, was “weighing the options.” Bayer, now the parent company for Monsanto, stated that they would file another appeal of the jury's verdict.

Judge Says She Will Overturn Jury Conviction of Monsanto and Nullify $250 Million Award in Damages Over Glyphosate Injuries

A San Francisco judge cast doubt recently on a jury’s $289 million damage award to a former Bay Area groundskeeper who was diagnosed with cancer after frequently spraying school grounds with a widely used weed-killer manufactured by Monsanto Co. Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos said in a tentative ruling that she would likely overturn $250 million in punitive damages because there was no convincing evidence that Monsanto had knowingly manufactured a harmful product or acted “despicably” toward the plaintiff, Dewayne “Lee” Johnson. Bolanos did not announce a final ruling, but showed little indication during the hearing that she was reconsidering her tentative decision on punitive damages. “I’m not following your argument,” she told Miller at one point after the lawyer said Monsanto had failed to properly test its product or study its effects. “You may not have been convinced by the evidence but we were,” juror Gary Kitahata said in a letter to Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos, who is considering Monsanto’s requests to reduce the damages or overturn the entire verdict. “I urge you to respect and honor our verdict and the six weeks of our lives that we dedicated to this trial.” Another juror, Robert Howard, said in his letter to the judge that the jury had paid “studious attention” to the evidence, closely followed Bolanos’ instruction and deliberated for several days. The possibility that “our unanimous verdict could be summarily overturned demeans our system of justice and shakes my confidence in that system,” Howard wrote.

Developer of GMO Potatoes Renounces Own Work: Warns Against Consuming GMO Potatoes

Dr Caius Rommens developed GMO potatoes for the Idaho-based agbiotech company Simplot. The chief genetic modification he introduced was to silence the potatoes' melanin (PPO) gene. This gene, when operative, causes potatoes to discolour when bruised. The GMO potatoes do not discolour when bruised. They have therefore been marketed as bruise-resistant and are being sold without GMO labels in the US and Canada under innocuous-sounding names like Innate, Hibernate, and White Russet. After finding that “most GMO varieties were stunted, chlorotic, mutated, or sterile, and many of them died quickly, like prematurely-born babies”, Dr Rommens renounced his genetic engineering career and wrote a book about his experiences, Pandora’s Potatoes: The Worst GMOs. Dr Caius Rommens explains why we should be wary of the products he created.

Study: Glyphosate Weed-killer Spreading to Bee Larvae and Threatening World’s Bee Supplies

A new study has been published out of Argentina showing how bee exposure to the herbicide glyphosate is affecting the development of honey bee broods. Published in PLOS One, the title of the study is Glyphosate affects the larval development of honey bees depending on the susceptibility of colonies. Most of the world's bee supplies are used to pollinate crops by professional bee keepers. Previous studies have already confirmed that glyphosate is affecting the health of bees. This current study from Argentina suggests the problem may be more serious than first known, as it is affecting bee larvae in bee broods as they develop, and not just adult bees. It also means that most of the world's honey supply is also contaminated with glyphosate, since most commercial honey products, including "local" honey, is the product of bees being used to pollinate crops.

USDA Defrauds Consumers with “Product of USA” Sticker on Meats from Outside the U.S.

Where is the meat you’re buying really from? Many of us look for the “Product of USA” sticker on the meat we buy in the supermarket, but we may not be aware that the USDA allows meat raised outside the US to carry that label. It’s a shameful case of government-sanctioned fraud. Current USDA policy allows foreign meat to be imported to the US and carry the “Product of USA” label if it passes through a USDA-inspected plant. The USDA loophole allows foreign multinational corporations to disguise their products and take advantage of the lucrative US market. There’s good reason to believe that this loophole also violates the federal government’s own policies that prohibit false or misleading labeling.

Glyphosate Weed Killer Linked to Bee Deaths

The world’s most widely used weedkiller – used on over 85% of GM crops – may also be indirectly killing bees. New research from The University of Texas at Austin shows that honey bees exposed to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, lose some of the beneficial bacteria in their guts and are more susceptible to infection and death from harmful bacteria. Scientists believe this is evidence that glyphosate might be contributing to the decline of honey bees and native bees around the world. The findings are published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Duke University Study: N.C. Residents Living Near Large Hog Farms Have Elevated Disease, Death Risks

Residents of communities near industrial-scale hog farms in North Carolina face an increased risk of potentially deadly diseases, Duke University scientists reported in a study released this week. Researchers found that compared to communities without big hog farms, in the communities with the highest hog farm density, there were 30 percent more deaths among patients with kidney disease, 50 percent more deaths among patients with anemia, and 130 percent more deaths among patients with a blood bacterial infection, called sepsis. The communities near the heaviest concentration of large hog farms also had a greater risk of infant mortality and lower birth weight.

How Many American Deaths Will the EPA be Responsible for Before They Ban Glyphosate Herbicide?

A California jury recently found Monsanto liable for a groundskeeper’s cancer, ordering the company to pay out $289 million. It was the first lawsuit that went to trial alleging that Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed-killers cause cancer. Other research shows that cancer may only be the tip of the iceberg in describing the toll this chemical is taking on our health. There have been hundreds of lawsuits filed against Monsanto alleging that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the Roundup herbicide, causes cancer, and now finally the courts are taking the claims seriously as a federal judge recently ruled that these cases can proceed to trial. The World Health Organization has labeled glyphosate a “probable carcinogen” and yet the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it isn’t—although we shouldn’t be surprised, given the crony ties that have been exposed between top EPA officials and the biotech industry. The EPA can’t be counted on to protect our health. How is this chemical possibly in the market? Tell the EPA to ban glyphosate!

Food Freedom Flourishes in Maine: Model for Other States?

Food freedom is flourishing in the State of Maine. A year after the governor of Maine signed “the Maine Food Sovereignty Act,” many Maine towns have responded to the new law by adopting ordinances that give their residents the legal right to sell food to one another without burdensome regulations. There are good reasons to permit farmers and home-based food processors such as bakers to sell food to their neighbors without oversight, but in most every state this is not permitted. It’s not about food safety, but about corporate control of the food system. On the day after the Maine Legislature approved the law in July of 2017, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) contacted state officials and threatened to federalize Maine’s system of livestock slaughtering and processing facilities. This article takes an in-depth look at Maine’s Food Sovereignty Act, the threat raised by the US Department of Agriculture against that law, and provides guidance for people in other states who want to bring food freedom to their communities.

After California Jury Convicts Monsanto in Glyphosate Trial, Vietnamese Victims of Monsanto’s Agent Orange Also Want Justice

A jury's verdict in California that a groundskeeper got cancer from repeated exposure to Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller is offering new hope for justice for millions of plaintiffs an ocean away. During the Vietnam War, Monsanto was one of the primary companies that supplied Agent Orange to the U.S military, which sprayed 44 million liters (approximately 11.5 million gallons) of the dioxin-containing herbicide on the jungles of South Vietnam. As a result, at least three million Vietnamese people have suffered from cancer, neurological damage and reproductive problems that have been passed down three or four generations, Viet Nam News reported. "The verdict serves as a legal precedent which refutes previous claims that the herbicides made by Monsanto and other chemical corporations in the U.S. and provided for the U.S. army in the war are harmless," spokesman for Vietnam foreign ministry spokesperson Nguyen Phuong Tra said.