It Happened

glyphosate girl

It happened. Last week, a settlement was announced. I must really be off my game this Covid – I’m late to report this enormous news, and have no excuse for the delay. None. I don’t leave my house. You can look at my image above to see that it isn’t due to time I’ve dedicated to self-care, though I do stare at the targeted Instagram ads on at-home dermabrasion machines with curiosity. I have become quite strong at ping pong and adjudicating whose turn it is to do the dishes, both are jousts of sorts that double as decent life skills. In a family 360 Review feedback meeting that I called on our green sectional sofa, I was alerted that I have a loud voice and that it would behoove the household happiness to work on muzzling that a bit. So I opened up a blog page, cued the silence, and turned back to writing. 

With that, the big news.

$10.9 Billion of Bayer’s capital will be forked over to resolve the Roundup-NHL litigation, but Bayer admits no wrongdoing. There will be no warning labels.  $8.8-9.6 Billion will cover current cases, except Johnson, Hardeman and Pilliod, which will continue through an appeals process.  

In something of a surprise, $1.25 Billion will be set aside for a separate class agreement aimed to address potential future litigation and provide medical outreach for underserved communities to detect and treat NHL that MAY have been caused by Roundup. The attorneys involved in the class action are different than the core Plaintiff attorneys who originally worked for years on the litigation (Baum Hedlund, Miller Group, etc). The original attorneys could not be pleased with this tag-on settlement term.

So one might wonder, who will decide a verdict on this class action lawsuit? Who will ultimately determine if Roundup causes cancer or not? (A reminder: It is overwhelmingly clear that it does.) 

And wow, it gets juicy in the worst of ways. The class action component appears to totally undermine the original work performed in the first three trials. The determination of who wins that class action battle will no longer come from a jury, but rather a “Science Panel.” 

On a press release, Bayer writes:  

Both the class and company will be bound by the Science Panel’s determination on this question of general causation, taking this decision out of the jury trial setting and putting it back in the hands of expert scientists. If the Class Science Panel determines that a causal connection between Roundup™ and NHL is not established, class members will be barred from claiming otherwise in any future litigation against the company. 

WHAT?!? 

Remember, thanks to the diligent work of the attorneys and plaintiffs in all of the trials leading up to this moment, the general causality was ALREADY SETTLED in court THREE TIMES.

Well, the attorneys who constructed this class action provision in the settlement will receive payouts of $150 million each. They sold out, and it impacts all of us, and innumerable plaintiffs who deserved their own trial in front of a jury. Monsanto has agreed to pay attorneys’ fees and costs up to $150 million, and class representative service awards up to $25,000 each.

The “Independent” Science Panel 

All class action litigation will be put on pause for several years while the Scientific Panel makes its decision on general causality.

To construct this panel, a mutually decided upon third party will select the members. Because that sounds insanely sketchy, the other option is that both sides will select two scientists, and those four scientists can agree upon a fifth scientist to complete the panel. Apparently, the analysis of the existing public research will take FOUR YEARS to sift through. They also may file an extension if they need more time. At that time, the panel will decide once and for all if Roundup causes cancer. 

I’m hearing echoes of Winning Wisner calling out the “independent” Intertek Panel, the hired group of scientists who facilitated Monsanto’s ghostwriting of a research paper in rebuttal to the IARC classification. 

My gears are grinding thinking of Monsanto’s perpetual, unfounded rebuttal that no one but them seems to understand the science, and that science is the weakness in the Plaintiff arguments. The juries called foul on that claim three times. It should be game over for that argument based on science.

This class action component of the settlement is simply another Monsanto big win. Perhaps Bill Heydens and Donna Farmer can send one of the internal Monsanto powerpoints over to the class action attorneys to show how to go about hiring an “independent” group of scientists. 

The Playbook

As AP students of Monsanto trickery, we should have predicted this strategy of feigning intellectual and ethical interest in seeking the “real” scientific answers on Roundup. Bayer is broadcasting that they will not label the product as a carcinogen because the science is too inconclusive. Otherwise, of course they would because they are good people.  

Simply raising the issue of a need for an independent scientific panel employs an extremely powerful and successful PR strategy that has allowed many toxic products to stay on the market by way of “embracing skepticism.” 

Investigative Journalist Paul Thacker captured this strategy brilliantly:

“Embracing skepticism” is a strategy the PR firm of Hill & Knowlton created for tobacco companies in the 1950s, a way to counter the prevailing science on a subject with experts who would offer a more industry-friendly alternative. Harvard historian Allan Brandt described the scheme as “brilliant” — it allowed tobacco companies to pretend they were addressing the accumulating evidence that cigarettes cause cancer while effectively undermining the public’s confidence in that evidence.

The Timing

As a refresher, nearly all GMO seeds were developed merely to sell more Roundup, but marketed as advanced biotechnology for the good of humankind. The GMO seeds are named “Roundup Ready,” and stay alive even when drenched in Roundup. Monsanto and the US government claim that these GMOs are necessary to “Feed the World.” I actually bought that line for years. 

The vast majority of GMOs are used to feed animals and make ethanol. Except for a minimal percentage of GMO-derived foods that humans eat, most end up in the bellies of animals at factory farms. So the correct term should be that GMOs “Feed the World Meat.” I hope that I haven’t ruined your 4th of July BBQ. 

If this Scientific Panel will take four years to complete its analysis, it buys Bayer time to complete and deliver a replacement GMO/herbicide system to the Roundup-Ready GMO lovin’ farmers. And likely cover their rears as they did with Agent Orange, avoiding ultimate culpability. 

The Roundup issue is SO much deeper than just these trials. The majority of our agricultural land has been used exclusively by this system, and now the soil is so unhealthy that changing to a cleaner agricultural system is financially impossible for farmers who might be interested in doing so. Without the Roundup Ready system, agricultural, animal and ethanol industries stand to collapse. I grabbed coffee with a GMO farmer in Iowa, who told me that even if Roundup is labeled a carcinogen, he is still going to use it. 

It is of little surprise that presidents Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump have all been huge supporters of Monsanto and the Roundup Ready system – the Agchem industry is gargantuan in its political influence.

Bottom line: The United States has ruined its most fertile heartland soil by use of the Roundup Ready GMO system, the product of which primarily feeds animals. The rest of the world is becoming increasingly disinterested in our poisonous food, and that is an enormous stress on Washington. The farmers are highly dependent on Roundup to have any reasonable income. (And that isn’t saying much.) 

I’m considering the idea that no matter what the verdicts were in court, Roundup was going to stay on the market. While it is disappointing that Bayer wasn’t bankrupted, and that no warning label has been mandated on Roundup, this herbicide is deeply entrenched in the US economy. And of course, no regulator ever wants to say – oops, we were wrong. 

Is Roundup just too big to fail? 

Final Notes

I can’t imagine that these will be the final terms of the settlement. There will be future arguments heard in court with Judge Chhabria. We will see. 

Oh, one more component of the settlement? Bayer will fund research on Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. Note that Bayer already has a drug in use to treat NHL. Cause the problem and treat the problem – quite a business plan. 

In enormous news, Mexico is phasing out Roundup!!! Mexico’s Environment Ministry has announced that glyphosate-based herbicides will be phased out of use in the country by 2024 to protect human health and the environment. Hopefully, they don’t replace Roundup with even more toxic herbicides.

11 Comments

  1. This Iowa girl hopes industrial agriculture will soon be replaced by regenerative agriculture. Unfortunately over 50% of Iowa farms are run by tenant farmers who could care less about the condition of the soil and owners (many of them women) who just want as much profit as possible. How farmers farm is directly related to the US Farm Bill. That is where the power lies, always with the politicians who bag big donations from Bayer/Monsanto each election cycle. The answer to safe food rests with politicians in Washington DC and the typical voter doesn’t care or have a clue about food safety.

  2. Keep writing. ! You are a pioneer and your information is making a difference. You are my Hera as opposed to hero. It is discouraging and frustrating and maddening and outrageous and fucked up. Keep writing. You create hope!!!
    Linda

  3. Love your blog! This brought home the issue and the trials to me in a way that was easy to keep up with. Thank you

  4. Thank you for the updates! You reporting are the receipts needed, as mainstream media is not reporting this.

  5. I love your blog, I’ve been following you since the first roundup case. Just when you think the good guy will win, evil swoops in and wins…yet again. How is there no oversight, no 3rd unbiased party when creating these “scientific boards“ to review and no trial by unbiased jurors. Why does this stuff keep happening? I know it’s always about the money but at what point does someone say STOP, you’re done, you’re going to now do the right thing. You’re going to inform the public, pay every person that has been sickened by your product, clean up the earth by getting rid of this product and go back to the drawing board and create an organic, earth sustainable product or get out of business. When does someone finally put an end to the corruption? Round up is every where, we consume by the gallons, the earth and water are contaminated with it and it’s been found in vaccines so everyone is getting injected with it. When does it finally end in justice for Mother Earth and mankind?

  6. Oh well, only another 4 years to go to the next crunch point. I think GG that you are right “Glyphosate is too big to fail”, especially now in a world reeling from Covid and Climate Change. You can have too many nails in a coffin.
    It has been a good battle, and more will follow before we gain complete victory. Glyphosate’s retreat and the avoidance of it will continue. The labels might not be changed in the US, but elsewhere non-committal warning notices will appear. The phase-out has started, and will not stop.
    Feel content GG that you have played a part in this drama. Your writing and ideas will have inspired many others, so do continue to write and promote your views. Grow organic, eat organic, and avoid processed foods. We can’t undo the harm that has occurred but we can avoid further damage. And a happy 4th to you, and all independent people.

  7. Thanks for enormous amount of time & effort that you have put into this one journey. Please keep writing.

  8. Take a look at footnote 5 at page 11 of the motion to approve the settlements. https://usrtk.org/wp-content/uploads/bsk-pdf-manager/2020/06/Motion-for-judge-to-accept-class-action-and-science-panel.pdf.

    Note the language about the limits on what the panel considers, note that the panel cannot conduct independent new research, note that its membership is so small that it omits many areas of expertise, and the panel must ask for permission to consider new information.

    “The Science Panel’s analysis will include (1) published government carcinogenicity
    assessments; (2) IARC Monograph 112 regarding glysophate; (3) “[a]ll published studies and
    reviews regarding glyphosate, glyphosate-based herbicides and/or surfactant epidemiology,
    exposure/dose, animal toxicology, genotoxicity, and chemical structure and activity;” and (4) all
    relevant registrant-supplied studies and data submitted to the EPA and other regulatory
    authorities. Settlement § 6.2(d). However, if during the pendency of the Scientific Analysis new
    evidence becomes available that the Science Panel considers material, it may petition the
    Settlement Administrator for permission to consider the new evidence. The Science Panel will
    not conduct any independent scientific research to generate new scientific data.”

  9. Really excited re the issues you are exposing and dealing with following reading your post concerning legal stickhandling carried out in defending pesticide use by Monsanto/Bayer.
    I belong to group who are in process of a campaign to demand our Federal Government to convene a Public/Judicial Inquiry into Pesticide Application programs carried out in CFB Gagetown since the mid-50s up until present.
    When I seen the name Intek in a post on FB, my interest was to say the least, piqued!! This ‘science consulting firm’ essentially dealt the death knell to a report which, by way of understatement, is replete with really spurious science (BS science). Their name at that time was CANTOX. They were joined at the hip with many of our Federal politicians and their conclusions went hand in hand with the political will of the government of the day.
    I noted with interest to references to Agent Orange in some of the comments etc. which is of great interest to me and our group and would welcome any topical info, anecdotal or not, regarding experiences with the effects of the applications of the rainbow of chemical phenoxies.

GG loves comments!! Let me know your thoughts!