…by Jonas E. Alexis and Mischa Popoff
Mischa Popoff grew up on an organic farm and has a bachelor’s degree in history, particularly in the history of the origin of synthetic fertilizer. He was also a USDA organic farm and process inspector. He is the author of Is It Organic?
JEA: Monsanto started out as one of the largest chemical companies in the twentieth century, and by 1935 they began to produce toxic products such as polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs), which were widely banned by 1979 because of its health risk in humans and because it was even hazardous to the environment.
In fact, PCBs were known as “systemic poisons,” and chemical workers who were exposed to those products “developed chloracne, a serious skin condition, and liver abnormalities.” F.R. Kaimer, General Electric’s representative, declared in 1937 that 50 to 60 people were exposed to some of these poisons, and “Eight or ten of them were very severely afflicted—horrible specimens as far as their skin condition was concerned. One man died and the diagnosis may have attributed his death to exposure to Halowax vapors but we are not sure of that.”
Kaimer also said that “Repeated bodily contact with the liquid Aroclors may lead to an acne-form skin eruption.”
These systemic poisons were found in refrigerators, paint and flame retardants. Cecil Drinker, professor of public health and medicine and Dean of Public Health at Harvard University, discovered the problems with PCBs way back in 1937.
Drinker ended up writing an article in The Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology entitled, “The Problem of Possible Systemic Effects from Certain Chlorinated Hydrocarbons.” In the same year, L.A. Watt, a Monsanto official, admitted: “Experimental work in animals shows that prolonged exposure to Aroclor vapors evolved at high temperatures or by repeated oral ingestion will lead to systemic toxic effects.”
Sociomedical historians and professors Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner wrote two years ago in an article entitled “PCBs, and the creation of a ‘world-wide ecological problem’”:
“Researchers have, for instance, linked one of the most common flame retardants—polybrominated diphenyl ethers—to a wide variety of potentially undesirable health effects, including thyroid disruption, memory and learning problems, delayed mental and physical development, lower IQ, and the early onset of puberty.
“Of special concern are a variety of chlorinated hydrocarbons, including DDT and other pesticides that were once spread freely across the United States. Despite being banned decades ago, they have accumulated in the bones, brains, and fatty tissue of virtually all of us. Their close chemical carcinogenic cousins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), were found in innumerable household and consumer products—like carbonless copy paper, adhesives, paints, and electrical equipment—from the 1950s through the 1970s.
“We are still paying the price for that industrial binge today, as these odorless, tasteless compounds have become persistent pollutants in the natural environment and, as a result, in all of us.”
The interesting thing is that Monsanto were aware of the risks of their products, but they still wanted to, in the words of the company’s own words, “sell the hell out of ‘em.” In an archival document on “damage to the ecological system by contamination from PCBs,” it stated: “The evidence proving the persistence of these compounds and their universal presence in the environment is beyond questioning.”
It gets worse. The document continued to say that “Direct lawsuits are possible” because “customers using the products have not been officially notified about known effects nor [do] our labels carry this information.” The Guardian reported:
“Another internal memo from September 1969 lists PCB leakages in the Gulf Coast, Great Lakes and San Francisco Bay areas and outlines potential cleanup actions. But the memo also says Monsanto’s strategy should be to ‘let govt prove its case on a case by case basis.’
“It says: ‘We can prove some things are ok at low concentration. Give Monsanto some defence. We can’t defend vs everything. Some animals or fish or insects will be harmed.’ Two months later, a PCB presentation to Monsanto’s corporate development committee firmed up this warning: ‘From the standpoint of reproduction, the PCBs are highly toxic to birds.’”
Bill Sherman, the assistant attorney general for the US state of Washington, said:
“these records confirm that Monsanto knew that their PCBs were harmful and pervasive in the environment, and kept selling them in spite of that fact. They knew the dangers, but hid them from the public in order to profit…
“At the same time that Monsanto was telling the public that that PCBs were safe, they were literally graphing their potential legal liability against the lost profits and public image boost that might accompany being responsible and honest. At the end of the day, Monsanto went for the profits instead of for public health and environmental safety.”
Monsanto began to expand its capitalist system by taking over the agricultural landscape by the 1920s, and immediately problems ensued. By 1999, Monsanto’s products created an economic crisis in countries like Belgium. It was labeled “one of Europe’s worst food contamination outbreaks. Wallonia’s agriculture minister called it ‘the most serious economic crisis Belgium has known since the war.’”
In an article entitled “Monsanto sold banned chemicals for years despite known health risks, archives reveal,” the Guardian reported back in 2017: “Monsanto continued to produce and sell toxic industrial chemicals known as PCBs for eight years after learning that they posed hazards to public health and the environment.”
Similarly, the Washington Post reported way back in 2002 in an article entitled “Monsanto Hid Decades Of Pollution”:
“In 1966, Monsanto managers discovered that fish submerged in that creek turned belly-up within 10 seconds, spurting blood and shedding skin as if dunked into boiling water. They told no one. In 1969, they found fish in another creek with 7,500 times the legal PCB levels.
“They decided ‘there is little object in going to expensive extremes in limiting discharges.’ In 1975, a company study found that PCBs caused tumors in rats. They ordered its conclusion changed from ‘slightly tumorigenic’ to ‘does not appear to be carcinogenic.’”
In other words, Monsanto routinely produced toxic waste which they knew would engender serious diseases such as cancer. As the Post moved on to say: “Monsanto enjoyed a lucrative four-decade monopoly on PCB production in the United States, and battled to protect that monopoly long after PCBs were confirmed as a global pollutant. ‘We can’t afford to lose one dollar of business,’ one internal memo concluded.”
Since Monsanto is an essentially oligarchic company, “its corporate successors have avoided a regulatory crackdown, spending just $40 million on cleanup efforts…” Monsanto, as the Post again documents, has been involved in covert operations since the 1930s, and one of the main goals was and still is to make money by any means necessary. But what has been the result of this capitalist enterprise?
In July of this year alone, USA Today reported: “A California appeals court on Monday upheld a groundbreaking verdict that Monsanto’s widely used weed killer caused cancer in a school groundskeeper but the panel also slashed the damage award from $78.5 million to $21.5 million.” It went on to say: “The 1st District Court of Appeal said there was evidence to support a California jury’s 2018 decision that ‘Monsanto acted with a conscious disregard for public safety…’”
Here’s the actual verdict: “The original San Francisco Superior Court jury found that St. Louis-based Monsanto had purposely ignored warnings and evidence that glyphosate, the active ingredient in its popular Roundup and Ranger Pro products, causes cancer.”
In 2019, Monsanto again lost a case against its diabolical activity in court because it was concluded that its Roundup weed killer was causing cancer. In fact, Monsanto has faced thousands upon thousands of Roundup-cancer cases over the years. In fact, those cases have reached approximately 11,000. This year alone, Monsanto was ordered to pay more than ten billion dollars “to resolve cancer lawsuits over weed killer Roundup.”
One lawyer by the name of Brent Wisner who ended up winning a case against Monsanto declared that “We were finally able to show the jury the secret, internal Monsanto documents proving that Monsanto has known for decades that … Roundup could cause cancer.”
Numerous scientists have talked about how Monsanto’s products are actually leading people to their untimely deaths. The International Journal of Toxicology has even declared that glyphosate, Monsanto’s herbicide, has been a problem since the beginning.
The journal stated: “The glyphosate formulation studied also triggered two ‘death proteins’ in human cells known as caspase 3/7, inducing pathways that activate programmed cell death (apoptosis), a clear sign of significant toxicity.” In an article entitled “Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells,” Scientific American concluded in 2009 that Monsanto’s Roundup’s
“inert ingredients can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells. The new findings intensify a debate about so-called ‘inerts’ — the solvents, preservatives, surfactants and other substances that manufacturers add to pesticides.
“Nearly 4,000 inert ingredients are approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Glyphosate, Roundup’s active ingredient, is the most widely used herbicide in the United States. About 100 million pounds are applied to U.S. farms and lawns every year.”
A number of scientists at the University of Caen, France, declared that the inert ingredients which are found in Roundup formulations “could cause cell damage and even death [at the] residual levels. The research team suspects that Roundup might cause pregnancy problems by interfering with hormone production, possibly leading to abnormal fetal development, low birth weights or miscarriages.”
Scientific American added: “Inert ingredients are often less scrutinized than active pest-killing ingredients. Since specific herbicide formulations are protected as trade secrets, manufacturers aren’t required to publicly disclose them.”
But Monsanto has gotten smart over the years. They have bought some scientists in order to perpetuate the capitalist and diabolical activities of the industry. In fact, they even “manufactured scientific studies” and then “paid scientists to publish them.” This is not new at all. For example, “the sugar industry had paid scientists in the 1960s to implicate saturated fat, and not sugar, as a cause for heart disease.”
Listen to this:
“In February 2015, Monsanto executive William ‘Bill’ Heydens emailed his staff instructions to ghostwrite portions of a scientific study on the safety of Roundup, and that he would tell scientists to, quote: ‘just sign their names’ to the study. According to this same email, Heydens knew that ghostwriting the study would work: he said that Monsanto had already ghostwritten a study on Roundup in the year 2000.
“In the 2015 emails, Bill Heydens and his employees scramble to prepare for an international review of glyphosate by the cancer arm of the World Health Organization. The emails reveal that some Monsanto employees were apprehensive about ‘noise’ coming from independent scientific studies―studies that indicated Roundup is carcinogenic. In the emails, executives weigh the cost of paying independent experts to create studies ($250,000) versus the free option of ‘ghost-writing’ studies.”
Monsanto also funded studies by numerous scientists who pretend to present an impartial scientific judgement on the issue of whether glyphosate is harmful to humans or not. Monsanto has been manipulating scientists and journalists for years. Now get this:
“A young woman falsely posing as a freelance BBC reporter at one of the Roundup cancer trials was in fact a ‘reputation management’ consultant for FTI Consulting, whose clients include Monsanto. The woman spent time with journalists who were covering the Hardeman v Monsanto trial in San Francisco, pretending to do reporting while also suggesting to the real reporters certain storylines or points that favored Monsanto.”
There is more: “More than 20 scientific studies submitted to regulators to prove the safety of the popular weedkilling chemical glyphosate came from a large German laboratory that has been accused of fraud and other wrongdoing.”
Did you catch that? One study might be accidental, but 20 studies under the name of “science”? Perhaps the following statement may surprise you: “Hundreds of studies done by US contract laboratories in the 1970s, 80s and 90s were found to be fraudulent, including some tests used by Monsanto in representations to the US Environmental Protection Agency regarding the company’s glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide.”
Monsanto’s covert activity to suppress the truth and manipulate scientists and journalists was known as “dark money project,” which includes “planting helpful news articles in traditional news outlets; discrediting and harassing journalists who refused to parrot the company’s propaganda; and secretly funding front groups to amplify pro-Monsanto messaging across social media platforms.”
Monsanto is even behind “secret funding for weedkiller studies.” Again, these studies are being labeled “scientific” and “academic.” As one journalist indirectly put it back in 2016, science is now for sale.
One classic example of Monsanto’s diabolical activity was pointed out by Carey Gillam of the Guardian. Gillam has been covering Monsanto for seventeen years, and has argued that Monsanto is not safe. By 2014, an organization by the name of Academic Review published an article bleeding on the work of Gillam and condemning her for not looking at scientific progress. Gillam noted:
“Internal Monsanto documents have revealed, however, that Academics Review was and is anything but independent. The organization was the brainchild of Monsanto, designed as a vehicle for responding to ‘scientific concerns and allegations’ while ‘keeping Monsanto in the background so as not to harm the credibility of the information,’ as one November 2010 email from Monsanto executive Eric Sachs stated.
“According to a March 11, 2010 email chain, Academics Review was established with the help of a former director of corporate communications at Monsanto who set up his own public relations shop and a former vice president of a biotech industry trade association of which Monsanto was a member.
“Other internal documents show Monsanto’s money and marching orders behind the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), an organization that purports to be independent of industry while publishing articles attacking journalists and scientists whose work contradicts Monsanto’s agenda. Articles written by ACSH associates have appeared in USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes.”
Monsanto even created a list of people in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom to speak on behalf of the company.
The logic is pretty straightforward here: Monsanto is producing diseases and eventual deaths. It was so bad last year that “French court cancels Monsanto weed killer permit on safety grounds.” As one report put it then:
“Whether or not Roundup causes cancer, it still could be harmful to human health for other reasons. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that glyphosate has a number of harmful health effects, from mild to severe.
“At the most basic level, Roundup herbicide can cause a type of skin irritation known as photocontact dermatitis. In most cases this is limited to contact with uncovered hands, arms, or legs while using the weed killer. However, if used in spray form, it could also get into the nose, mouth, or eyes, where the effects could be more severe.”
The interesting thing is that “Australia’s agriculture minister insists the common weedkiller Roundup is safe after its manufacturer agreed to pay almost $16bn to settle cancer lawsuits in the US.”
How stupid can we be? Charles M. Benbrook, a scientists at Washington State University who later regretted being bought by companies like Monsanto, declared: “If you spend enough time with skunks, you start to smell like one.” Has the agricultural minister been spending time with skunks?
It’s time to bring in Mischa Popoff to the conversation.
JEA: Let’s cut to the chase: define for us Monsanto and what the entire industry is doing to our food?
MP: One word: monopoly, a monopoly that is now in the hands of Bayer, with a handful of other corporations controlling the rest of farming.
JEA: What are some alternatives to Monsanto?
MP: The organic industry WAS an alternative, but has now been taken over by globalists. Sadly, over three-quarters of the organic food sold in America is currently being imported; almost HALF tests positive for prohibited pesticide residues.
JEA: If Monsanto is really bad, can you provide for us some statistics about some of the “side effects”?
MP: No one argues anymore about some of the severe health impacts of Monsanto’s previous patented inventions. Agent Orange and aspartame are two examples in which Monsanto argued for years against what everyone could see so plainly, that such products are inherently unsafe. In those days, Monsanto’s policy was simply to quit selling these products once the backlash became too much, and never speak of them again.
But in the case of Roundup, the profit margins are just too great to be abandoned. So they instead decided to sell-out to Bayer, and let them try and handle the backlash. The bottom line is we don’t know exactly HOW the overuse of Roundup is affecting our health because no one is looking into it. And as long as no one looks into it, Bayer can’t be held responsible for any suspected impact on our immune systems from Roundup.
JEA: Have some genuine scientists taken a look at this whole phenomenon?
MP: The most important reference I can provide is the academic article written by Stephanie Seneff and Anthony Samsel, “Glyphosate pathways to modern diseases VI: Prions, amyloidoses and autoimmune neurological diseases” in The Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry, 2017, Vol. 17, Num. 1, pp. 8-32. From that article:
“Most disturbing is the presence of glyphosate in many popular vaccines including the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which we have verified here for the first time.”
No one has contested this claim in any other journal, to my knowledge, which brings us to the key thesis of my article, that “Bayer executives have everything to gain from a protracted court battle, replete with dire headlines warning that Roundup is DANGEROUS, so long as no one figures out that the real problem with Roundup isn’t with people applying it; it’s with people absorbing it after eating it or having it injected into their bloodstream.”
As for using Roundup as a desiccant… see “Glyphosate is not a true desiccant.” Ian Schemenauer, “Desiccation and pre-harvest glyphosate” Government of Saskatchewan, Ministry of Agriculture, 22 October 2016.
Lastly we have Robert F Kennedy Jr.’s well-founded critique of Bill Gates. Again, to my knowledge, no one has contested Kennedy’s claims. They just ignore them because Gates owns the networks. See “Robert F Kennedy Jr. Exposes Bill Gates’ Vaccine Dictatorship Plan – Cites Gates’ Twisted ‘Messiah Complex’” on Fort Russ News, April 10, 2020.
JEA: Why hasn’t the government done anything about this whole issue?
MP: Corrupt politicians, plain and simple. Politicians never did anything about Agent Orange and aspartame either, and never cared when Monsanto seized total monopoly control over such important staple crops as canola, corn, sugar beets and soy. Getting politicians to do the right thing is like pushing a rock uphill with your nose with both hands tied behind your back.
JEA: Are there some small but good industries out there that really provide decent alternatives to Monsanto?
MP: There used to be many… hundreds, if not thousands of alternatives. But through buy-outs, mergers and predatory take-overs, we are now left with only a handful of corporate giants that control the various aspects of food production. Companies like Bayer (formerly Monsanto) control the inputs: seed and chemicals, while companies like Purdue, Cargill and Archer-Daniels Midland control the purchasing and distribution of grains, with companies like General Mills and Nabisco controlling the making of consumer goods from those grains. The best hope is the family farmer, few of whom remain. And if Bayer gets their way, there will be even fewer remaining in years to come.
JEA: You said that “but has now been taken over by globalists.” Who are those people, and why are they doing this to the Americans and much of the world? What is the big agenda? Money? Power? Fame? Or all the above? You’ve already suggested that money is involved. But is there something deeper, something diabolical? And if virtually everything has been taken by Monsanto, then what are some practical things that the average citizen can do? Is there any hope? Or is everyone doomed?
MP: The organic industry is no different than any other industry. It started legitimately, but then was taken over by people whose only goal is to make more money. Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, provides the textbook case.
Bezos bought Whole Foods, America’s largest organic grocery retailer, and used his connections with China and the Middle East to undercut American organic farmers… something the previous owner of Whole Foods, John Mackey, was already attempting to do, but lacked the connections that Bezos brought to bear.
When it comes to Monsanto (now Bayer) the activists mainly focus on their lineup of GMO crops. Yes, they’re certainly problematic. But the FAR-more pressing issue is the forced ripening of crops, AKA desiccation. This is viewed as the growth sector when it comes to flogging Roundup. What can citizens do? Demand an end to crop desiccation. It’s bad farming practice, plain and simple, especially when Roundup herbicide is used.
JEA: Is there anything else you would like to say?
MP: Yes…They gave the science of genetic engineering a bad name through the patenting of lifeforms, predatory marketing, and political manipulation.
In the 80’s and 90’s, the execs at Monsanto managed to avoid years of safety testing on their GMO crop lineup by convincing politicians and regulators that these crops are “substantially equivalent” to existing crops, meaning they didn’t need to be safety tested, while at the same time they convinced the patent department that these crops were “novel” and hence patentable.
No lifeform should ever be patented. Not a crop, not an animal, not a disease or the vaccine to prevent that disease. Monsanto did more to erode the fundamental notion that you can’t own what God invented than any other corporation.
-  For scholarly studies on similar issues, see Ellen Griffith Spears, Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014).
-  Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner, “Monsanto, PCBs, and the creation of a “world-wide ecological problem,’” Journal of Public Health Policy, November 7, 2018.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Arthur Nelsen, “Monsanto sold banned chemicals for years despite known health risks, archives reveal,” Guardian, August 10, 2017.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Michael Grunwald, “Monsanto Hid Decades Of Pollution,” Washington Post, January 1, 2002.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  “California court upholds verdict in Monsanto weed killer cancer case, reduces damage award to $21.5M,” USA Today, July 21, 2020.
-  Ibid.
-  Kelly Tyko, “Man awarded $80M in lawsuit claiming Monsanto’s Roundup causes cancer,” USA Today, March 27, 2019.
-  Phil McCausland, “Monsanto parent company Bayer faces thousands of Roundup-cancer cases after $2 billion verdict,” NBC News, May 20, 2019; Sam Levin and Patrick Greenfield, “Monsanto ordered to pay $289m as jury rules weedkiller caused man’s cancer,” Guardian, August 11, 2018; Mihir Zaveri, “Monsanto Weedkiller Roundup Was ‘Substantial Factor’ in Causing Man’s Cancer, Jury Says,” NY Times, March 19, 2019; Julia Jacobs, “Monsanto Ordered to Pay $80 Million in Roundup Cancer Case,” NY Times, March 27, 2019; “Jurors say Roundup contributed to a 2nd man’s cancer. Now thousands more cases against Monsanto await,” CNN, March 20, 2019.
-  Bill Chappell, “Bayer To Pay More Than $10 Billion To Resolve Cancer Lawsuits Over Weedkiller Roundup,” National Public Radio, June 24, 2020.
-  Sam Levin and Patrick Greenfield, “Monsanto ordered to pay $289m as jury rules weedkiller caused man’s cancer,” Guardian, August 11, 2018.
-  See for example “Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate,” The Lancelet, March 20, 2015, vol. 16, issue 5: 490-491.
-  Gabriela Chaufan, Isis Coalova, María Del Carmen Ríos de Molina, “Glyphosate commercial formulation causes cytotoxicity, oxidative effects, and apoptosis on human cells: differences with its active ingredient,” International Journal of Toxicology, January-February 2014; for similar studies, see B Bernay, G-E Séralini, “Ethoxylated adjuvants of glyphosate-based herbicides are active principles of human cell toxicity,” National Center for Biotechnology Information, November 16, 2013.
-  Crystal Gammon, “Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells,” Scientific American, June 23, 2009.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Ed Mierzwinski, “Monsanto Manufactured Scientific Studies And Then Used Those Studies To Influence EPA, Other Regulators,” Huffington Post, March 15, 2017.
-  Alison Moodie, “Before you read another health study, check who’s funding the research,” Guardian, December 12, 2016.
-  Mierzwinski, “Monsanto Manufactured Scientific Studies And Then Used Those Studies To Influence EPA, Other Regulators,” Huffington Post, March 15, 2017.
-  See for example John Acquavella, David Garabrant, Gary Marsh, Tom Sorahan & Douglas L. Weed, “Glyphosate epidemiology expert panel review: a weight of evidence systematic review of the relationship between glyphosate exposure and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or multiple myeloma,” Critical Reviews in Toxicology, Vol. 46, 2016. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10408444.2016.1214681.
-  Carey Gillam, “How Monsanto manipulates journalists and academics,” Guardian, June 2, 2019; see also Eric Lipton, “Food Industry Enlisted Academics in G.M.O. Lobbying War,” NY Times, September 15, 2015.
-  Gillam, “How Monsanto Manipulates journalists and academics.”
-  Carey Gillam, “Science shouldn’t be for sale – we need reform to industry-funded studies to keep people safe,” Guardian, February 18, 2020.
-  Ibid.
-  Gillam, “How Monsanto manipulates journalists and academics,” Guardian, June 2, 2019.
-  “Revealed: Monsanto’s secret funding for weedkiller studies,” Guardian, March 12, 2020.
-  Carey Gillam, “Science shouldn’t be for sale – we need reform to industry-funded studies to keep people safe,” Guardian, February 18, 2016.
-  Gillam, “How Monsanto manipulates journalists and academics,” Guardian, June 2, 2019.
-  Ibid.
-  “French court cancels Monsanto weedkiller permit on safety grounds,” Reuters.com, January 15, 2019.
-  “Australia’s agriculture minister says Roundup is safe after $16bn US cancer lawsuit,” Guardian, June 25, 2020.