#9 Context: Corruption of the companies, public record
If the parties gathered at the table do not acknowledge the corruption and find ways to neutralize it, we will not solve the problem. The problem is the chemical load and its effects in the creation of disease, developmental problems, cognitive and reproductive functioning.
Monday, May 1, 2006
(1) Federal Ministers
- Health, Tony Clement
- Agriculture, Chuck Strahl
- Fisheries and Oceans, Loyola Hearn
- Environment, Rona Ambrose
(2) University of Saskatchewan, Office of Vice President Research, c/o Laura Zink; Deans Ernie Barber and Lynne Pearson
We solve a problem IN A PARTICULAR CONTEXT. If you do not understand or know that context, you cannot remove all the obstacles to finding a solution. Context is “the realities of our time”.
From email #8: “I have yet to put out the email that documents the Corrupting nature of the chemical companies, the “clients” of the PMRA. …”
This email is the documentation of the corruption. If the parties gathered at the table do not acknowledge it and find ways to neutralize it, we will not solve the problem.
Thank-you for citizen input, courtesy of George:
re BASF, Minnesota Supreme Court, $52 million dollar verdict. I have added it to the list of examples of the corrupt nature of the companies (#10 below). (BASF came up in the discussion about herbicide-tolerant wheat which will increase the chemical load on the environment, licensed by the CFIA (email #2a).)
We have recent input from Francois Guimont, head of the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency), party to these discussions.
I will table Francois’ input prior to the promised documentation for the budget slashing (reduced money for enforcement of regulations) at DFO (Dept of Fisheries and Oceans). The move leads to increased abuse of our water supply and hence an escalation in disease outcomes. Courtesy of the Liberals before they bit the dust.
Tabling of citizen input: when you read below the appalling record of the corruption of these companies, you will understand how abhorrent and completely unacceptable it is that even one penny of tax-payer money should go to these companies, whether through Government Fronts (email #3a) or through “matched funding”. For a Government official to say that the amounts of money are small, is simply not true. Nor is it a reasonable defence. The record of corruption demonstrates that these companies need to be POLICED, with no leaway.
When Connie from the PMRA asked how the public might be convinced that the PMRA is doing its job, after you read the record, you will understand that having “Industry Scientists” on panels that make any decisions related to governance or policy or regulation is to undermine public trust in the PMRA. Call a spade, a spade: you judge a person by the company s/he keeps.
The University is part of this exercise: the history of corruption will be of interest to them. I remember picking up a brochure years ago, at the College of Agriculture. Monsanto contributed $11 million to the construction of the new College. And they fund research. The undermining of “science” is well documented (email #3a – “Science Under Siege”). The College of Agriculture has state-of-the-art computers and expensive software. The Thorvaldson Building (science) has poor equipment in contrast.
Ha! it’s a little funny how we delude ourselves: the difference between a “prostitute” and a “mistress” is the manner in which they are kept, which is to say that money buys vocabuary to elevate the image. David Suzuki described the same thing in a different way.
At the National Farmers Union (NFU) meeting in Saskatoon Nov. 2004, in the question period following David Suzuki’s presentation, Tom Wolf placed the case for the scientists before the audience: the chemical corporations fund the research. David shrugged his shoulders, was forthright and unapologetic: the University sells its soul to the devil.
Recently the same criticism has surfaced at the University of Guelph where Keith Solomon is from (email #8 – Solomon on the 2,4-D panel, a scientist who was bought by the tobacco industry earlier on).
CITIZEN INPUT, thanks to Michael:
“University fights Suzuki criticism Noted environmentalist cites 17-year-old television program GUELPH (Apr 26, 2006)
Environmentalist David Suzuki has said University of Guelph faculty are “in bed with the chemical industry.” But a plant agriculture professor says that view is naive.
“It’s fundamentally wrong,” said Clarence Swanton about what Suzuki said during a recent interview with the Mercury. “Working with the industry, we can make advancements of how technology is introduced and how it’s used in the marketplace.”
In an interview last week just before he flew out from Vancouver on his book tour, Suzuki criticized the University of Guelph’s agriculture department, saying it strongly supports industrial-type agriculture, with its reliance on chemicals and genetically modified organisms.
“I’ve been stunned to find myself arguing with a lot of faculty,” he said. “It’s clear that Guelph is in bed with the chemical industry.”
Suzuki said he was “hammered” by Guelph’s agriculture faculty for a 1989 TV episode on organic farming.
“It’s obvious they’re getting grants from the chemical industry and they see the world differently from the way I see it as an environmentalist,” he said.
University president Alastair Summerlee said he was disappointed Suzuki focused on such an old reaction from university faculty. “It’s very important to focus on what we’re doing now and the reputation we have now,” Summerlee said. …”
I present this exchange with Suzuki, not to titillate, but to shine light on THE OBSTACLES.
Jane Jacobs, before departing, warned us in “Dark Age Ahead” that five social pillars are crumbling: family and community, HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE, REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT, and professional self-regulation. Her words reinforce our experience. As do those of George Soros when he speaks of the “unholy alliances”.
The problem for the Government and the Universities is that the public is well-informed. And no longer willing to be silent.
It is my expectation that you will govern with common sense and integrity. Read the track-record on the chemical/pharmaceutical/biotech companies. It’s long. These people should be in jail. They have done far more harm than jailed people have done. It is well documented.
This context is tabled. It is an obstacle to be dealt with if we are to achieve solutions to the problem.
Unacceptable levels of corruption exist.
We know that. “Public Private Partnerships” have been promoted since 1982. Government is a part of industry through entities such as BioTech Canada, many other public-private partnerships and “government fronts” (see email #3a).
ILLUSTRATE IMPORTANCE OF CONTEXT BEFORE PROCEEDING TO “THE PUBLIC RECORD” ON THE COMPANIES.
The conclusions I would reach about:
- a child in a refugee camp in Ethiopia could be starkly different from
those reached in relation to a child raised in Disneyland Villa because of only one consideration – the context in which their lives are set is dramatically different.
Other examples of the importance of context:
- decisions that affect prairie animals would be very different in a contextual setting of 1830 compared to the conditions that will exist in 2030.
- decisions related to women could be very different in the context of a fundamentalist Muslim community versus Hollywood.
Failure to delineate context would be a serious error.
Some elements of context:
- system of governance (a decision made in an oppressive regime will be different from the same decision made in a democracy)
- time in history
- levels of awareness (is it an Age of Enlightenment or one of relative ignorance?)
- community values
- ecological context
To this list, I would add:
- levels of corruption in the society. (When I am dealing with manipulative, dishonest people I make different decisions than when I am dealing with people who are trustworthy.)
The CONTEXT in which a decision is made needs to be spelt out. It greatly affects the decision and what becomes of the decision. One benefit of addressing CONTEXT is that some items of context can be changed.
(Email #2a: It can only happen if we can each see a potential role for ourselves in solving the problem (of the pesticide load and health).)
Now, on to the PUBLIC RECORD:
CHEMICAL INDUSTRY, A HISTORY OF LIES AND CORRUPTION
This is just a SMALL sampling of behaviour. It is just what we have come across in the course of our work; we didn’t set out to compile a list. Anyone interested in more examples can easily google it.
Also, the chemical companies are owned by the pharmaceutical companies.
Together they are the biotechnology companies (biotech plants, biotech animals, biotech fish, biotech drugs). The list below is for the chemical/biotech companies. I have not set out anything about the pharmaceutical companies. I believe that their history of cover-up is well enough known that the chemical company record is sufficient to make the case. I would just add this one thing: Aug 13, 2004 we circulated information re ANGELL MARCIA, former New England Journal of Medicine editor, now senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School and her book “The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It” (Random House, 2004).
It is highly unreasonable to rely on ANY information supplied by these companies themselves. They are notoriously corrupt. If they were “citizens” they would be in jail.
(1) SEVERELY POISONING PEOPLE AND THE ENVIRONMENT AND LYING ABOUT IT:
In August 2003, in an Alabama court, MONSANTO was fined $700 million for poisoning people with PCBs. The community of people in which its plant was located and from which it drew its employees were the ones poisoned and diseased. Monsanto KNEW what it was doing, told great big lies, but in the end they were caught.
The Washington Post carried a very lengthy piece regarding the Alabama court case. The details were heart-rending – hard to believe that a company could be so callous. The $700 million dollar fine reflected Monsanto’s depravity.
In 1998 the Senate of Canada Hearing into attempted bribery by Monsanto to get Bovine Growth Hormone licensed in Canada drew press coverage under headings such as: THE ‘PURE’ MONSANTO CO. AND HEALTH CANADA. “Scientists pressured to approve cattle drug. Health Canada researchers accuse firm of bribery in bid to OK a questionable product.” The bribery amount was a million dollars. Monsanto was unsuccessful in its attempt to get BGH registered because Health Canada scientists blew the whistle. Senator Eugene Whelan was instrumental in getting a Senate Hearing.
(3) BLATANT DISREGARD FOR LAWS AND FALSE ADVERTISING:
Dec 2003, The Attorney General for the State of New York fined DOW CHEMICAL $2 million (the highest amount ever for this kind of charge) for making false safety claims in pesticide ads. This was after the State, BEGINNING IN 1994, negotiated settlements under which the Company agreed to not use the ads. They turned around and ran the ads anyway. They are accustomed to getting their way. The Attorney General of New York was a surprise for them.
(4) CORRUPTING SCIENCE AND THE REGULATORY PROCESS (The “IBT Scandal”):
A reporter for the Regina Leader Post gained temporary notoriety for his persistence in tracking down information related to the “IBT scandal” in the early 1980s. Monsanto’s RoundUp was implicated. All its safety studies had been done by IBT. This was a huge scandal in the United States, well documented, which had implications for Canada: the largest commercial laboratory in the United States, IBT, one of several companies supplying the research studies used by the pharmaceutical/chemical company complex to get their products registered by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) was investigated and found to be routinely falsifying data. At the time, Canada automatically licensed any product which had received licensing from the Americans. The scandal brought about changes in the Canada licensing system. (And now there is pressure to once again, “harmonize” the Canadian licensing system with the American.)
Thousands of IBT studies were revealed through EPA and FDA investigations to be fraudulent or grossly inadequate. One of IBT’s top executives was Dr. Paul Wright, a Monsanto toxicologist who took a job at IBT Labs in part to supervise the PCB tests. He then returned to Monsanto. Wright was eventually convicted of multiple counts of fraud in one of the longest criminal trials in U. S. history, with his legal fees paid by Monsanto.
(5) MORE LIES:
Then there’s “Trade Secrets”, a documentary I watched on PBS in March 2001, by Bill Moyers. It arises out of an “Erin Brockavitch” type story of a woman whose husband’s life ended prematurely. She was convinced that a connection existed between his death, deaths and rare diseases among his co-workers and their workplace – connections the Company not only denied, but for which it supplied “the science” to refute. “Trade Secrets” reveals how the public’s right to know the truth about the thousands of chemicals in the world has been compromised. It shows documents from a secret archive uncovered during the lawsuit against the chemical companies. Their own words show how these companies sometimes hid the truth about the health implications of their products from the public.
(6) DECEPTION, INDUSTRY FRONTS, TORONTO ENVIRONMENTAL COALITION:
This tool for manipulation of information became better known during Toronto’s pesticide bylaw struggle (which was successful). Chemical industry associations establish in-name-only “organizations” used to sell the public on the benign nature of their products. The Toronto Environmental Alliance and the Toronto Environmental Coalition sound like sister organizations. They aren’t. One is a bona fide volunteer organization whose work is environmental protection; the other is an industry front, a telephone number and a name under which press releases are issued. Unsuspecting media pick up the content and feed it to a public that has no way of distinguishing the reliability of the information. Other Fronts in Ontario include the “Pest Control Safety Council of Canada” and the “Environmental Coalition of Ontario”.
(7) CROPLIFE CANADA, MAIN INDUSTRY LOBBY, CHEMICAL AND BIOTECH, also known as the Urban Pest Management Council of Canada “represents the manufacturers, formulators, distributors and allied associations of specialty pest management products, for the consumer or professional markets used in turf, ornamental, pest management, forestry, aquatic, vegetation management and other non-food/fibre applications.
The Council is involved in all aspects of industry-wide and public education, communication, stewardship, legislation and regulation appropriate to pest management in the urban environment. The Council is dedicated to the protection of community health and the environment.” CropLife Canada is part of CropLife International. Lorne Hepworth is President. The preceding description of who they are is courtesy of their web-site.
(8) 2005: attempted bribery in Indonesia.
You should not dismiss it on the basis that corruption is expected in Indonesia. Monsanto also tried to bribe officials in
Canada and was caught. I assume they are successful in their bribery attempts more often than they are caught.
(9) The Vermont dairy Monsanto took to court because the dairy labelled its milk as being free from bovine growth hormone. That was a threat to Monsanto’s product sales in the U.S. (Canada and Europe would not and have not licensed BGH.)
Recent CITIZEN INPUT, thanks to George:
(10) $52 MILLION AWARD AGAINST BASF FOR PESTICIDE CONSUMER FRAUD REAFFIRMED ON APPEAL
(the CFIA, Cdn Food Inspection Agency, Agriculture Canada) has licensed BASF’s herbicide-tolerant wheat – introduced in email #2a).
(Link no longer valid)
Insider eJournal, Vol. 1, No. 4 (March 2, 2004)
Minnesota Supreme Court Upholds Jury Verdict Awarding $52 Million To Farmers Who Alleged BASF Fraud In Its Sales And Advertising For Similar Herbicide Products
A legal decision that sends a serious warning to pesticide producers was handed down Feb. 19 by the Minnesota Supreme Court, which upheld a $52 million judgment against BASF Corporation for consumer fraud.
The class action suit was brought because BASF was allegedly overcharging minor crop growers for a product that was virtually identical to a product sold to major crop growers for less money. The practice of “splitting” pesticide labels among similar products isn’t necessarily unusual, and the shock waves from this decision are still rumbling through the industry.
However, Robert Shelquist, one of the Minneapolis attorneys representing the growers, told Insider that “this was an advertising case – not a subset labelling case – which proved that BASF was intentionally deceiving the farmers.”
For the complete text of the February 19th, 2004 Minnesota Supreme Court Decision, see:
Ronald Peterson, et al. v. BASF Corporation
(11) From the February 2001 Idaho Observer: Some of the president’s Monsanto men
There is a reason why Bill Clinton was the president: His antics kept the dominant media, and therefore the people, preoccupied with nonsense while the real agenda moved forward. There is a reason why GW is the president: His affable and unpolished down home charm is a perfect contrast to the power players that have been chosen to be his cabinet.
Robert Cohen, author of “Milk, The Deadly Poison” which details the horrid politics behind the contamination of our nation’s milk and beef supply with bovine growth hormone, says that the new Bush administration could accurately be described as the Monsanto Cabinet.
Attorney General John Ashcroft reportedly received $10,000 for his senatorial campaign from Monsanto in the mid 90s. Ashcroft’s contribution from Monsanto was five times that of any other congressional hopeful. Ashcroft, and Sr. Bush Supreme Court appointee Clarence Thomas were instrumental in gaining Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for Monsanto’s controversial artificial sweetener aspartame, which has been linked to over 200 ailments that include Alzheimer’s disease, juvenile diabetes, depression, epileptic seizures, blindness, memory loss, excitability, weight gain, multiple sclerosis and lupus (The Idaho Observer, November, 2000).
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was president of Searle Pharmaceuticals, a company owned by Monsanto. Rumsfeld was also the Secretary of Defense under President Ford.
Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman was on the board of directors of Calgene Pharmaceutical, another company currently owned by Monsanto.
Secretary of Health Tommy Thompson is the fourth member of the Bush cabinet to have direct ties to Monsanto. The former governor of Wisconsin designated his state as a “biotech zone” for the use of Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone even though dairy farmers in his state opposed the designation by a 9-1 ratio. Thompson reportedly received $50,000 from biotech companies during his election campaign.
Bovine growth hormone, which does increase the productivity of dairy cows, has also been linked to many health problems in children and adults (The Idaho Observer, November, 2000) and makes cows sick.
Bovine growth hormone has been outlawed in most countries, but not the U.S. And as Cohen points out, another player in the Monsanto-studded Cabinet is Rep. Richard Pombo, who will head the Agriculture Subcommittee on Dairy, Livestock and Poultry. Pombo is also a Monsanto boy, having taken campaign money from it while stalling a 1994 bill to make labeling mandatory for milk or milk products containing Bovine Growth Hormones. Pombo helped kill the bill in committee.
Monsanto also holds the patent on the “terminator gene” which prevents plants from producing viable seed so that farmers, and therefore people, will be dependent upon the multinational corporation for their food supply.
Monsanto has proven to be one of the most greedy, ruthless and environmentally irreverent corporations in world history. One cannot serve the interests of Monsanto and serve the interests of people at the same time.