What The Jury Said

I have heard damning stories about Monsanto for years, so it didn’t surprise me when Trump’s EPA retreated from Obama-era findings that a chemical in one of the company’s herbicides, glyphosate, is a carcinogen. Glyphosate is a component of  Round-Up, which is widely used; numerous studies have linked that use to cancer, shortened pregnancies and other serious health outcomes.

The EPA may have backed off, but just last month, the Guardian reported a fairly stunning legal victory over the company.

Dewayne Johnson tries not to think about dying.

Doctors have said the 46-year-old cancer patient could have months to live, but he doesn’t like to dwell on death. These days, he has an easy distraction – navigating the international attention on his life.

The father of three and former school groundskeeper has been learning to live with the gift and burden of being in the spotlight in the month since a California jury ruled that Monsanto caused his terminal cancer. The historic verdict against the agrochemical corporation, which included an award of $289m, has ignited widespread health concerns about the world’s most popular weedkiller and prompted regulatory debates across the globe.

Johnson, who never imagined he would be known as “dying man” in dozens of news headlines, is still processing the historic win.

What is especially telling about the verdict is that Johnson–the first cancer victim to sue Monsanto and win– alleged that the company had spent decades intentionally covering up the cancer risks of its herbicide.

The groundbreaking verdict further stated that Monsanto “acted with malice” and knew or should have known that its chemicals were “dangerous”.

Monsanto, of course, has already filed a motion seeking to throw out the verdict– and prevent Johnson’s family from receiving the money. When a David like Johnson faces a Goliath like Monsanto, the eventual odds favor Goliath, and there are indications that the Judge is listening to Monsanto.

That said, deceiving the public about the risks of its products is hardly the only “rap” against Monsanto. I’ve read stories for years about the company’s vendetta against small farmers who save patented seeds they’ve purchased for use in ensuing years.

The agricultural giant Monsanto has sued hundreds of small farmers in the United States in recent years in attempts to protect its patent rights on genetically engineered seeds that it produces and sells, a new report said on Tuesday.

The study, produced jointly by the Center for Food Safety and the Save Our Seeds campaigning groups, has outlined what it says is a concerted effort by the multinational to dominate the seeds industry in the US and prevent farmers from replanting crops they have produced from Monsanto seeds.

In its report, called Seed Giants vs US Farmers, the CFS said it had tracked numerous law suits that Monsanto had brought against farmers and found some 142 patent infringement suits against 410 farmers and 56 small businesses in more than 27 states. In total the firm has won more than $23m from its targets, the report said.

There are also allegations that Monsanto will sue farmers whose fields contain more than one percent of crops grown from seeds that have “blown in” from adjacent fields. I was unable to verify the accuracy of that claim, although I once had a colleague whose father was a farmer, and my colleague claimed his father been targeted in just such a suit.

Fifty-three percent of the world’s commercial seed market is controlled by three firms – Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta. That amount of power and market dominance undoubtedly has something to do with the EPA’s reversal, despite the conclusions reached by numerous scientists.

Of course, Trump’s EPA doesn’t believe any science. They probably put more stock in voodoo–and they’re probably sticking pins in a doll that looks like Dewayne Johnson now.


  1. Under the banner of “It’s worse than you think” let me explain some of the other ways that farming the chemical way have made millions for a few and destroyed the land at the same time.

    By thinking of the soil as only a medium for growing plants and using chemicals as both nutrients and weed/pest control, the past best practices of rotating crops, planting cover crops, and spreading livestock waste have been abandoned. The result of the “new” farming is the “desertification” of the land. This is land that no longer retains rain water causing run offs that pollute streams and rivers. Livestock waste is collected in large “ponds” where any heavy rain floods it out and into nearby streams. After years of chemical farming the soil is dead.

    True story: Some summers ago I was visiting a large farm in Iowa and sharing garden stories with the farm wife. She asked me to look at her vegetable plot because she was having trouble getting anything to grow there that year. Sure enough all that was growing there were a few scraggly weeds. “I don’t understand it,” she said. “We sprayed it last fall with Roundup so we would be ready this spring”.

  2. heres a little known fact,i have a HAZ-MAT endorcement on my CDL drivers license,it allows me to haul any kind of non neuclear load,but,if you look at the USDOT haz mat regs,roundup is not a haz mat. it does not have a UN number,like 1203 is gasoline,in a red,placard..roundup travels in railcars,with a 30k gals capacity. and unloaded locally along side the tracks on sidings,with just apump and hose.then transported in bulk,usually 6500 gals load on a semi.no warnings,no placards. many if not all herbicdes,have a poison placard, watershed or body of water hazard,or inhilation. the placards are in many instances,international. if you see them,theres a dept of trans,website,just type in the un number,and it goes to that substance,and also,will give full discription of what to do in case of emergency,as this is a site for fire and local authorities to evaluate any known substance,under a controled,or regulated substance..beyer and monsanto can not buy out of,it,but it has thawarted any controls by.like a lobbyist,write its own rules.and then get swallowed by the politician,who gets the funds to campaign,(i sound cynical,eh?) we use to have a FDA,and the rules were strict,but that changed around reagans death to all term. be safe,,,,, vote till,your blue in the face,thanks Bernie for walking with the people in Indiana….18 days,and we can at least stop the rape and pillage

  3. Prof K Says:
    “Of course, Trump’s EPA doesn’t believe any science. They probably put more stock in voodoo–and they’re probably sticking pins in a doll that looks like Dewayne Johnson now.”

    Perhaps they have enlisted Ronald Reagan’s astrologer.
    That always seemed like a smart way to do things
    All the best people, you know

  4. Shout out to Len yesterday for the light bulb going off about the theft of the internet by private corporations. I’m sure Vernon would approve but one of the “isms” with capitalism is “socializing the costs while we privatize the profits.”

    Big Industry has figured this out long ago exploiting it wherever the can but mostly with governments and universities. They call it “public-private partnerships.”

    As for Monsanto, it is the worst of the worst. Not just a criminal empire but they kill people and animals. They also kill off our much-needed bees. Without pollinators, we are in big trouble.

    The worst part about this case is the judge is threatening to overturn the ruling. She has said the plaintiff’s attorney used PR schemes not evidence to win the case. In other words, they used Monsanto’s tricks and won but the judge doesn’t like it.

    Does anybody want to play connect the dots to this judge?

    Once again, the media is nowhere in holding the seed companies accountable. Neither is the “powerful” government whose role it is to hold industry accountable. Why in the world did our government allow only three seed producers to dominate the food industry?

    And they wonder why there is a shortage of farmers.


  5. We are the field test in which farmers and people who use household hazmat products become the subjects. Politicians like Trump will listen if the right science or results is put in front of their face enough. Conferences on hazmat used by households and farms need to be attended and data needs to be collected by the medical community on those having illnesses including cancer.
    Pesticides only a certain amount 120 gallons need placards according to DOT. Households need to be aware that roundup us not to be disposed of with other products in dumps but only by treating it as a hazmat. Most don’t read labels and wear gloves while spraying theses products. Farmers unfortunately breath large quantities unaware of the cancer caused by the use of roundup. Farmers should wear chemical masks while dispensing chemicals used. Even those using such products in nurseries have found themselves vulnerable to more limited use.
    Large companies even though they may lose court judgements will fight not pay such large settlements until they get the “right “ judge.
    Roundup should not be used near public use waterways or reservoirs.

  6. The quote copied and pasted below takes us directly to the money source of EPA waning regulations which have been ignored for years and has escalated during the Trump administration. The term “…world’s commercial seed market…” explains why all produce appears edible but has little, if any, flavor no matter where it is imported from. We import produce from around the world and export our own produce around the world all in the name of profiteering for the already wealthy corporations owned by only 1-2% of the American population. I quit using Roundup about 4 years ago and the weeds are winning the endless battle in my yard and flowerbeds…a small price to pay to (hopefully) be voiding carcinogens in all weed killers and plant foods. What I wouldn’t give for a delicious Indiana tomato!

    “Fifty-three percent of the world’s commercial seed market is controlled by three firms – Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta. That amount of power and market dominance undoubtedly has something to do with the EPA’s reversal, despite the conclusions reached by numerous scientists.”


  7. Todd,

    Actually, there have been several articles in quite a few science journals and science departments in newspapers about the patented seed issue. It’s disgusting, of course, and profits over everything else remains the theme of all capitalists, including Monsanto, et. al. The drill here, as it was with the tobacco companies, is to litigate the daylights out of the little guy until they break him. Trump did it with the contractors he stiffed. Corporate America does it as a cost of doing business.

    The killing of the soil AND the oceans for the sake of profit is the basic tenet of my rants about irresponsible capitalism. When you take the regs away, capitalists do what capitalists do: they destroy their resources for the sake of the quarterly report. The stockholders keep going to the bank while the land is decertified and the oceans become catch basins for the chemicals and the plastic wastes.

    The basic question remains for these money grubbers: If they believe in God, why is it they are so committed to destroy what they say their God created? They cannot see their own hypocrisy. How can they say they are rich?

  8. John, While living in southern Illinois farm country I never saw one of the local farm owners spraying their own fields. They hired young men at minimum wage to do the dirty work.

    JoAnn, Those seeds controlled by the three companies are genetically modified so as to resist the weed killers and to emit certain pesticides. Europe has banned these GMO seeds. Grain grown from such seeds contains these modified cells, and that grain is fed to cattle, hogs and chickens.

    Does anyone not see a potential problem here?

  9. Speaking of bees and things with stingers: yesterday, I disturbed a nest of yellowjackets in my Florida garden, and five of them stung me. Not so surprising. But something was surprising – their sting had very little umph, more like the nip of a horsefly. Either I am getting tougher or they are getting weaker.

  10. Theresa; thanks for the full explanation. I am going to once again recommend everyone be required to watch the movie, “Soylent Green”, a futuristic look at food sources due to killing off the environment. Remember that H.G. Welles’ “Voyage To the Bottom Of The Sea” and “Around The World In 80 Days” were futuristic until the invention of submarines and airplanes.

    We are also working diligently on GMO regarding human reproduction; maybe they can be genetically monitored to resist the modified cells in all of our foods. if they can get beyond issues of race, disabilities and possible homosexual children being born. Legal and Judicial bases have not yet caught up to technological and medical advances but have added privately owned prisons (fast become corporations) to house those breaking laws which are long outdated. Asbestos and lead poisoning remain serious health issues but have been swept under the rug; all connected to hazardous chemicals in their many forms.


  11. I am not an attorney, but having gone as far as he has, surely Mr. Johnson could appeal a judge’s decision to ignore a jury’s finding.

  12. I’ve had a handyman business for more than a few years. Customers want weeds killed w/Roundup. Did that. One symptom of Roundup poisoning is high salivation. I do that and guess I’ll have my drool cup in my hand while waiting to die from cancer. My bad.

  13. My lawn in the spring time explodes with dandelions. I have also transplanted Queen Anne’s Lace into my flower garden such as it is. I refuse to use herbicides and pesticides on my lawn. Most of my neighbors have the same attitude.

    As a Boomer in my distant youth there were honey bees and butterflies all over. Not any more. I could probably count on two hands the number of Honey Bees I have seen this past year.

    Back when I was Vietnam Agent Orange was sprayed all over. Babies in Vietnam still being born with birth defects due to Agent Orange, despite 40 years since conflict with U.S.
    The Chemical was sprayed on crops, plants and trees by U.S. military to destroy cover for guerrilla fighters.
    The dioxin can cause a range of birth defects as well as cancer and reproductive abnormalities.
    The chemical was manufactured for the U.S. Department of Defense by Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemical.

    It got its name from the color of the orange-striped 55-gallon barrels in which it was shipped to Asia.
    In 1988, Dr. James Clary, an Air Force researcher associated with Operation Ranch Hand, wrote to Senator Tom Daschle, “When we initiated the herbicide program in the 1960s, we were aware of the potential for damage due to dioxin contamination in the herbicide. However, because the material was to be used on the enemy, none of us were overly concerned. We never considered a scenario in which our own personnel would become contaminated with the herbicide.”

    In 1979, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of 2.4 million veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during their service in Vietnam. Five years later, in an out-of-court-settlement, seven large chemical companies that manufactured the herbicide agreed to pay $180 million in compensation to the veterans or their next of kin.

    The statement by Dr. James Clary is shocking. Not only an admission that the government knew Agent Orange was toxic, but it was OK to spray it on the “enemy”.

    It is not only Bayer-Monsanto that stands to lose billions in revenue but also the “lawn care” industry, if Mr. Johnson’s verdict holds up. One thing we can depend upon is the enlistment of “tobacco type scientists” who for a fee will say whatever Bayer-Monsanto wants them to say. Then there is the political system, including judges that will rally under the radar to defend the Corporations.

  14. Here are the main causes of the upcoming collapse.

    1) 7.5B people on the way to 10-11B.

    2) Make more money regardless of the impact on everything else.

    The two are interrelated variables.

    The success of greed as a motivator has caused all kinds of things to happen that make human life more comfortable and less risky. The less risky part is the key although the more comfortable part gets all of the press and has become a key part of greed; we all want more of it. There are so many of us because the odds in less risky civilizations of a baby living to old age are very high. It happens here almost as a matter of course. On the other hand in more risky countries parents know that and have spare kids so at least a few will grow up to take care of the parents in old age. So no matter whether parents live in high or low risk parts of the world the population is endlessly growing but for different reasons. Either too many are being born or two few are dying compared to the birth rate.

    While our population is endlessly growing the space on earth is not so growing food for so many mouths has always been bound to, and has finally, achieved an unsustainable population. Companies like Monsanto see the greed potential in that dilemma and invent ways to turn it into more money. They are successful. They have turned growing the population into a less sustainable size into money.

    When these facts are presented to some their reaction is: comfort is good so make more money motivation is also good, and though we have no idea how, it will always provide more comfort.

    This is why denial of reality has become the main product now of unfettered capitalism which will lead to the demise of most if not all of us.

  15. On another front just south of Indianapolis:
    ‘We’re Voting Them Out’: What It Looked Like When Horde of Hoosiers Marched With Bernie Sanders to Early-Voting Site After Indiana Rally.

    “This year, things are going to change. We need to have the highest voter turnout in history.”

    With the GOP currently waging a massive and racist war on voting rights in Georgia and throughout the nation ahead of next month’s crucial midterm elections, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held a get-out-the-vote rally in Indiana on Friday and led hundreds of enthusiastic Hoosiers to a nearby polling station bearing some “bad news” for President Donald Trump and the Republicans: “We’re heading to the polls and we’re voting them out.”

    By the time the Sanders-led crowd reached the polling place—which was less than a mile away from the rally site in Bloomington, where the Vermont senator stumped for Democratic House candidate Liz Watson—people were lined up around the block waiting to cast their early ballots.

  16. Interesting… people are letting other people die with a horrible debilitating disease because of an idiot and his demons. Sorry but that is grounds for a firing squad! FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. or have people gone totally damn brain dead?

  17. Per John: “Politicians like Trump will listen if the right science or results is put in front of their face enough.”

    Um, no. Trump himself has only 1 concern: Does it feed my ego? Everything else starts there: does it make me rich, does it pwn the libs, does it improve attendance at my rallies, does it get me talked about on TV…

    Science that doesn’t reinforce what he already “knows” doesn’t do that. He’s been demonstrating for 2 years that he is immune to knowledge he doesn’t like, and since reality has a liberal bias he finds science to be doubleplus ungood.

    At this late date I am astonished that anyone seriously entertains the idea that trump could ever put the interests of the country over the interests of Himself.

  18. I just came to wish you a very Happy Birthday Professor Kennedy. I hope you have a fabulous day spending it what ever way you decide. Cheers!

  19. In the late 1800s, Leopold II of Belgium was a Trumpian wannabe plutocrat. Like Trump vs. his established, old money Manhattan “betters,” Leopold craved the elite status and hopefully vast wealth (especially for himself) of a colonial empire.

    Most of the world had been carved up by varsity players like Britain, France, Spain, Netherlands, and recently unified Germany. Belgium was a junior varsity bench warmer wearing an unlettered “colonies jacket”.

    He approached struggling Spain with an offer to acquire the Philippines. The effort failed.

    Leopold’s “golden” opportunity came on the heels of the Stanley/Livingston reconnaissance in the interior of Central Africa to assess the potential of soul-saving and resource acquisition.

    Leopold acted quickly on the newly opened opportunity, created a non-Belgian local private mercenary army, betrayed an Arab slaver ally and, using his private “Blackwater” mercenary force, ruthlessly and brutally seized the estimated 20 million people and land of what later became known as the Belgian Congo.

    To Leopold’s great pleasure, Congo proved to be the one of the most resource dense areas in the world.

    He appointed commission-paid overseers who ran Congo like a Nazi or Soviet work camp. The “not like us” others — the brown skinned, non-Christian locals — were of value to Leopold only to the extent they could frantically strip the land of its riches to meet inhuman quotas set by the remote King and his commission-only overseers.

    The non-white, non-Christian locals were viewed as just one more resource to exploit. Leopold’s thugs treated the native population incredibly harshly. They suffered forced removal from cleared land for Leopold’s plantations, family separation, kidnapping to work in lethal mining, starvation, and systematic murder. Woe to those who failed to meet quota — by even the smallest amount. Leopold’s and his overseer’s method of “sending a message” was to seize the quota-misser (man, woman, boy, girl) and chop off one hand or foot. Running away only shifted the mutilation to an innocent family member.

    The world was slow to recognize Leopold’s outrages: Congo was remote; access was limited and tightly controlled; the colony was Leopold’s own personal colony, independent of Belgium, its constitution, and its people; Leopold ran a gaslighting campaign that emphasized the Christian proselytizing and soul-savings activities and no mention of the extraordinary atrocities, both systemically intentional and inhumanely neglectful.

    Leopold gained vast personal wealth and cemented his legitimacy by becoming a patron of high culture and architecture in Belgium.

    Over several decades the world gradually learned the horrifying secrets of Leopold’s monstrous abuse of Congo.

    International pressure forced Leopold to turn Congo over to the Belgian government.

    A census was taken. The results were startling and tragic. Leopold’s 3 decades of greed and racist, ruthless, murderous, exploitative rule had led to the deaths of an estimated 10,000,000 Congolese — putting Leopold on par with our familiar 20th Century butchers Mao, Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot.

    Belgian authorities stopped the overseer commissions (putting them on salary). A few superficial reforms were implemented.

    But the epilogue is a sad one. Congo proved an opiate for wealth hungry Belgium. too profitable for Belgium to implement any deep reform or to withdraw and give Congo its freedom for half a century. Forced to free Congo only 40 or so years ago, the socially and culturally ravaged country became a failed state and has struggled ever since with tyranny, chronic war, acts of genocide, and continued exploitation by Congolese power seekers trying to follow Leopold’s example.

    This isn’t history’s only example of a non-state mercenary army used to enforce exploitation for private enrichment. Another notable example was the British East India Company which for decades had assaulted and raped India with its own private army until awareness of an shame at the reported abuses forced the British crown to take over.

    Afghanistan is possesses VAST mineral wealth, produces much of the world’s opium, and populated “only” by extendible, exploitable brown-skinned non-Christians. This is a plutocrats dream — running a government funded private army for self enrichment. It’s also a tried and true recipe for yet another world class humanitarian disaster.

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