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22.08.2018 |

Anti-Monsanto Lawyer: 'Monsanto's History Is Full of Lies'

Following a successful lawsuit against Monsanto for concealing the cancer risks of its pesticide Round Up, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the case says the Bayer subsidiary is likely to face many more legal challenges in the future.

On Aug. 10, lawyer Brent Wisner, 34, scored a landmark verdict on behalf of his client, cancer patient Dewayne Johnson. A court in San Francisco ruled that Monsanto was guilty of concealing the potential health risks associated with its weed killer glyphosate, which is sold in the United States under the brand name Round Up. The jury ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages to the plaintiff, who had used Round Up at his job as a janitor for a school district. The court said Monsanto should have labeled the product's possible dangers for consumers. Monsanto, which was recently acquired by German pharmaceuticals giant Bayer, has denied any link between the product and the disease.

Wisner spoke to DER SPIEGEL about the case in an interview.

DER SPIEGEL: Your law firm is widely considered to be on the side of consumers. You have targeted pharmaceutical companies and intractable airlines. When did you start taking a closer look at Monsanto?

Wisner: It's kind of in my blood. Even my father was a bit skeptical of pesticides. He networked with farmers and became an activist against the whole chemical thing. Then, two-and-a-half years ago, I received a call from Teri McCall. She was the widow of a farmer who had died of cancer and who had worked for over 30 years with Monsanto products. That was the impetus for our investigation. This summer, Dewayne Johnson approached us as well.

22.08.2018 |

Too Big to Feed: The Short Report

Mega-mergers and the concentration of power in the agri-food sector

What is corporate concentration, why does it matter for food security, and who are the biggest corporate players in each agrifood sector/"link" in the Industrial Food Chain? This accessible booklet (soon to be available in French and Spanish) answers these questions and more.

The Too Big to Feed: The Short Report was developed by ETC Group, in partnership with IPES-Food. It summarizes the full report Too Big to Feed, published by IPES-Food in October 2017. The full-length report (available here) includes additional data and a more detailed analysis on the impact of the consolidation of the agri-food sector.

22.08.2018 |

In the News: “Gov’t committee’s GMO deregulation proposal too hasty: consumer groups, experts”

Consumers Union of Japan has been active in the debate about regulation of GMOs since the mid 1990 and firmly believe the new technologies, such as gene editing, must be strictly regulated. CUJ’s stance is that any such experiments should be stopped to avoid serious adverse effects on human health and the environment.

August 21, 2018 (Mainichi Japan)

TOKYO — Consumer groups are taking aim at Aug. 20 recommendations by an Environment Ministry expert committee that some genetically modified organisms (GMO) be deregulated.

The expert committee proposed deregulation of organisms edited to remove or deactivate certain genes as opposed to adding new code, but critics are claiming this is “the same as genetic manipulation,” and that it is “strange” to exempt it from government restrictions.

21.08.2018 |

EDITORIAL: Genome editing poses a tricky regulatory challenge

The government has started working on legal and regulatory rules on dealing with genome-edited animals and plants.

In developing a regulatory system to govern genome editing, a new type of genetic engineering that involves changing an organism’s DNA, the government has to adopt an appropriately cautious, safety-first approach to ensure that there will be no harmful effects on biodiversity or human health.

Unlike early, less precise genetic engineering techniques, gene editing is aimed at changing DNA at a specific site in the genome.

The approach employs various techniques. A certain type of protein is used as “scissors” to cut the DNA at the target site to eliminate its specific gene function. Or new useful DNA is inserted into a specific location of the gene.

19.08.2018 |

Pesticide damage to DNA found "programmed" into future generations

Dr Paul Winchester sees a potentially catastrophic outcome resulting from the epigenetic damage caused by pesticides

EXCERPT: [Dr Paul] Winchester lays the blame [for rising infertility] at the feet of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which doesn't consider epigenetic or generational effects of chemicals, and the pesticide and chemical manufacturers like Monsanto. "They can sell all the Roundup they want, but if it's in me they are going to have to pay for that. Every molecule that I find is on them … What I want to know is: has my fetus had altered DNA imprinting because of this chemical? I have a right to know that. If we are going to have to wait 75 years to find out if my grandchildren are going to be affected by it, I think somebody has to pay. They better put a fund together. I want somebody's head to roll. I don't think that the EPA and Monsanto get to walk away."

16.08.2018 |

Councils urged to suspend use of Roundup or face risk of legal action

COUNCILS should ban the use of Roundup or risk being sued by employees and residents if their health is affected, say action groups.

The call comes in the wake of a landmark lawsuit in the United States in which a jury found chemical giant Monsanto liable for causing a school groundsman’s cancer from his exposure to the weedkiller.

The active chemical in Roundup – glyphosate –is classified as probably carcinogenic by the World Health Organisation but is still approved for use in Australia.

13.08.2018 |

Investors shun Bayer stock over US pesticide ruling

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) -

Investors fled shares in German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer Monday, fearing a massive damages ruling against one of newly-acquired US firm Monsanto's flagship products could signal a wave of costly lawsuits.

(.....)

Nevertheless, "if it's a quarter of a billion dollars per case, you don't need to lose many lawsuits before it becomes quite expensive," said analyst Michael Leacock of MainFirst bank, pointing out that Monsanto faces some 4,000 US lawsuits at the state level and 450 so-called "multi-district" cases at the federal level.

"The total cost, in our view, could easily reach $10 billion" if Bayer were to settle out of court with a still larger number of plaintiffs, he predicted.

11.08.2018 |

China says U.S. farmers may never regain market share lost in trade war

This story is being published by POLITICO as part of a content partnership with the South China Morning Post. It originally appeared on scmp.com on Aug. 11, 2018

China can easily find other countries to buy agricultural goods from instead of the U.S., its vice agriculture minister said, warning that American farmers could permanently lose their share of the Chinese market as a result of the trade war.

(.....)

China and the U.S. have been locked in a tit-for-tat trade war since early last month. Beijing unveiled its latest retaliatory tariffs on $16 billion of American goods on Wednesday, matching Washington’s move to slap 25 percent duties on the same value of Chinese imports.

The vice agriculture minister also said Chinese companies had “basically stopped” importing soybeans from U.S. farmers since July 6 and would deal with the impact by finding alternative ingredients for animal feeds.

China is the world’s biggest importer of soybeans, which it uses to make cooking oil, biodiesel and the meal to feed livestock.

Han said the country was expecting soybean imports from the U.S. to drop dramatically this year and that preparations had already been made. “China is totally able to handle the shortfall created by a drop in American soybean imports,” Han told Xinhua.

11.08.2018 |

Monsanto ordered to pay $289m as jury rules weedkiller caused man's cancer

Court finds in favor of Dewayne Johnson, first person to take Roundup maker to trial

DeWayne Johnson listens during the Monsanto trial in San Francisco last month. Photograph: Reuters

Monsanto suffered a major blow with a jury ruling that the company was liable for a terminally ill man’s cancer, awarding him $289m in damages.

Dewayne Johnson, a 46-year-old former groundskeeper, won a huge victory in the landmark case on Friday, with the jury determining that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller caused his cancer and that the corporation failed to warn him of the health hazards from exposure. The jury further found that Monsanto “acted with malice or oppression”.

Johnson’s lawyers argued over the course of a month-long trial in San Francisco that Monsanto had “fought science” for years and targeted academics who spoke up about possible health risks of the herbicide product. Johnson was the first person to take the agrochemical corporation to trial over allegations that the chemical sold under the brand Roundup causes cancer.

10.08.2018 |

Verdict reached in Dewayne Johnson vs Monsanto

The lawsuit alleges exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer and its active ingredient, glyphosate, caused Northern California resident Dewayne “Lee” Johnson to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

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