Tag Archives: DDT

Monsanto Fined $2.5 Million

Jimmy Mengel EPA Slaps Monsanto with Record Fine, Million Dollar Settlement the Largest in Series of Penalties:
The agricultural giant was found to have been selling genetically modified cotton seeds without labeling them as such. Between 2002 and 2007, Monsanto’s seeds were illegally sold in several Texas counties where the seeds are explicitly banned.

The seeds — known as Bollgard and Bollgard II — were genetically engineered to produce the insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), and Texas officials were concerned that using the seeds would lead to pest resistance.

But that didn’t stop Monsanto from bamboozling buyers into purchasing the illegal seeds.

Here’s the bad news: Monsanto’s market cap is $29.5 billion, so the fine is less than a hundredth of a percent of that.

Still, the fines keep going up. Maybe eventually they’ll get big enough to sting.

Or we could just trust the company that made Agent Orange and DDT.

Or we could remember this: Continue reading

Cancer in the Air, Food, and Water

Lyndsey Layton writes in the Washington Post that:
An expert panel that advises the president on cancer said Thursday that Americans are facing “grievous harm” from chemicals in the air, food and water that have largely gone unregulated and ignored.
Somebody noticed!

The President’s Cancer Panel called for a new national strategy that focuses on such threats in the environment and workplaces.

Epidemiologists have long maintained that tobacco use, diet and other factors are responsible for most cancers, and that chemicals and pollutants cause only a small portion — perhaps 5 percent.

The presidential panel said that figure has been “grossly underestimated” but it did not provide a new estimate.

“With the growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the unacceptable burden of cancer resulting from environmental and occupational exposures that could have been prevented through appropriate national action,” the panel wrote in a report released Thursday.

Federal chemical laws are weak, funding for research and enforcement is inadequate, and regulatory responsibilities are split among too many agencies, the panel found.

The problem is not too many agencies. Here’s the problem: Continue reading

Divide and Diminish, or Preserve and Survive?

Eagle1 Olivia Judson writes about Divide and Diminish:
A different process goes on when an island forms by splintering. Here, the ecosystem is pre-existing: the island is created with a set of residents already in place. But it is now too small to support them all.

What happens next is a kind of unraveling, a fraying, a disassembling such that the ecosystem becomes simpler, so as to fit the space that is now available. On those recently-created islands of Indonesia, for example, the smallest islands are home to many fewer species than the largest islands. And, as you’d expect, you don’t find big animals on the smallest islands either.

When we humans burn tracts of forest, or make islands in some similar way, the immediate impacts depend on a suite of factors, including how many islands there are, how big they are, and how close they are together. It also matters what is between them. Fields may be more hospitable to wildlife than roads or water; under some circumstances, life forms may be able to flit from one fragment to another, and the “island” nature of the fragments will be reduced. Perhaps we can use such patterns to shape how we use land, to try and minimize the impact we have.


She’s not talking about prescribed forest burns, which are actually necessary for longleaf pine forest ecology. She’s talking about burns that destroy forests.

The once-mighty longleaf pine ecology that spread from eastern Virginia to east Texas now only exists in tiny islands separated by cities, fields, and roads. Maybe we should preserve the few patches that are left. This isn’t just about plants and animals, you know, it’s also about flood control, food supply, and living conditions.

Half a century ago we overused pesticides, in particular DDT, which caused birds’ eggs to become too fragile. Bald eagles vanished from many places. But sometimes they come back, when we stop poisoning them and instead save some habitat.

The eagle pictured was just sitting beside the road as we drove by. There are more in nearby counties. Picture by Gretchen Quarterman, 23 March 2010.

The World Inside Monsanto

In a review of the 2008 film, The World According to Monsanto,, Kimberley D. Mok remarks:
The film documents the beginnings of the company as a chemical start-up in the early 1900s, producing saccharin, caffeine and vanillin. As we watch Robin Google up unclassified documents and interview a bevy of officials, scientists and farmers, we see that today’s Monsanto is a giant multinational wielding its considerable financial, political and marketing clout to influence government officials, ruthlessly sue farmers using patent laws – all the while surreptitiously lobbying to keep their potentially toxic products unlabelled or falsely advertised.

Monsanto claims that their genetically modified seeds will solve the food crisis, especially in developing countries, where it will provide significant economic benefits, higher quality and better yield. Nevertheless, the film compellingly shows the unsettling possibilities of genetic contamination of conventional or local varieties of seeds by their genetically-engineered cousins, pointing to a horrific future where global plant biodiversity is nil and farmers are not able to grow anything but genetically contaminated food.

The future? Already Monsanto seeds grow 93% of soybeans and 80% of corn in the U.S. and people claim “we couldn’t do agriculture in Argentina” without RoundUp. The Biotechnology Industry Organization even claims that the popularity of herbicide-resistant crops showed their value outweighs any associated detriments.

Any associated detrimeents, such as birth defects or sickness in animals and humans.

Nevermind that organic farming yields are often better than with agrochemicals.

Surely the company that brought us DDT (banned by U.S. Congress 1972), Agent Orange (Agent Orange Act of 1991 makes U.S. veterans exposed to it eligible for treatment and compenstation), and PCBs (“CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy”) wouldn’t soak the world in anything toxic?