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The Truth Sets Us Free

Updated: Mar 6

Waves of new information continue to come this year, shining new light on suppressed information regarding the agrochemical industry. These revelations are far reaching and difficult to integrate for our society, given our heavy reliance on pesticides for things like food production and land management. Sometimes, things need to get worse before they can get better. The good news is that this new information might be the "kick in the pants" we need to finally surrender and admit that the real truth is that we don't know. This can help us to find the courage to bring more creativity, innovation, and mindfulness to how we interact with each other and the land that sustains us.

(1) Bayer denies allegations in Sebastopol Roundup cancer lawsuit

Press Democrat headlines this week discussed the sad story of a beloved community members, a 4th generation Sebastopol farmer who says RoundUp caused his non-hodgkinds lymphoma cancer. Michael Meyer, 58, was diagnosed with cancer after using Roundup weed killer for more than a decade on his apple orchard. A lawsuit was filed against Monsanto/Bayer alleging design defect, failure to warn, negligence, breach of implied warranties, breach of express warranty and loss of consortium. Testimony in the jury trial began last week in Sonoma County Superior Court.

Mr. Meyer is by no means the first local resident to file a lawsuit with Monsanto/Bayer over damages from RoundUp use. We recently interviewed Elaine Stevick, the "former RoundUp Queen" on her healing journey through RoundUp use, cancer, lawsuit, and remission. See article on "Letter from Former RoundUp Queen".

According to Forbes, Monsanto/Bayer settled more than 100,000 cases claiming damage from RoundUp use as of May 2022, paying out an estimated $11 billion. At that time, another 30,000 suits were pending against Monsanto or Bayer.

The Press Democrat article notes the work Sonoma SASS has done to reduce RoundUp use on our roadways, specifically through working with Assemblymember Connolly on the Assembly Bill 99:

"In Sonoma County, area residents and environmentalists urged lawmakers to ban Caltrans from using Roundup along state highways. A year ago, this led to the introduction of Assembly Bill 99, which would require Caltrans to annually provide data on which types of pesticides it is using, where they’re being applied and in what quantity. It would also require Caltrans to alert residents any time it is scheduled to spray and force the agency to comply with more stringent county guidelines where they exist."

(2) Bayer fights string of Roundup trial losses including $2.25B verdict in Philadelphia

It is a true sign of cognitive dissonance that Bayer continues to keep RoundUp on the market without including a recommendation for gloves and protective clothing on the label. Monsanto/Bayer lost yet another lawsuit this month with the highest payout yet: $2.25 billion. Lawsuits like this all cite a lack of warnings and safety precautions arguing that Monsanto/Bayer ignored known health risks from glyphosate

When a Philadelphia jury awarded $2.25 billion in damages this year in a case that linked Roundup to a cable technician’s blood cancer, the verdict became the largest yet in the long-running litigation over the popular Monsanto weed killer.

"Thousands of cases remain, including one under way in Delaware over a South Carolina groundskeeper’s cancer death. Bayer insists the weed killer is safe, but has reformulated the version sold to consumers to remove the pesticide known as glyphosate."

Glufosinate, a cousin chemical to glyphosate is now being swapped into products like RoundUp. This chemical may pose even more health hazards than glyphosate as it new and has undergone very little safety testing not provided by the agrochemical industry.

(3) US court bans three weedkillers and finds EPA broke law in approval process

Opponents to pesticide reform often cite that all products in the US go through rigorous safety testing regulatory agencies allow them to come to market. Unfortunately, information continues to surface regarding the EPA's failure to follow their own protocols to ensure new chemicals are safe. Former EPA employees cite extreme financial and political pressure by the agrochemical industry as the main cause.

"A Federal judge in Arizona ruled that the EPA made a crucial error in reapproving dicamba, finding the agency did not post it for public notice and comment as required by law. US district judge David Bury wrote in a 47-page ruling that it was a “very serious” violation and that if EPA had done a full analysis, it probably would not have made the same decision. The ruling is specific to three dicamba-based weedkillers manufactured by Bayer, BASF and Syngenta, which have been blamed for millions of acres of crop damage and harm to endangered species and natural areas across the midwest and south."

(4) Final National Level Listed Species Biological Evaluation for Glyphosate

The EPA was forced by law to (finally) complete a Biological Evaluation on glyphosate. This is an analysis that should have been done before products like RoundUp were allowed to go to market. The findings? Glyphosate harms 93% of all endangered species. This furthers the narrative that the EPA is in the habit of sidestepping their own safety protocols before approving pesticide products.

From the United States EPA:

"Formulated glyphosate is moderately to highly toxic to fish, highly to very highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates, moderately toxic to mammals, and slightly toxic to birds on an acute exposure basis. In both terrestrial and aquatic animals, technical and formulated glyphosate demonstrate a variety of growth and reproductive effects at a range of chronic exposure concentrations. Glyphosate has demonstrated adverse effects on growth to both vascular and non-vascular aquatic plants as well as terrestrial plants. There have been over 1,000 reported ecological incidents involving glyphosate use for birds, fish, terrestrial invertebrates, and terrestrial plants. More details on the available toxicity data and incident reports are provided in Chapter 2."

(5) Children of the Vine available for streaming on Amazon

Documentary by Napa filmmaker, Brian Lila is now available for streaming on Amazon. Previously only available at limited in-person showings, Children of the Vine is now free to watch for all Prime Video members.

Sonoma SASS hosted a film showing of Children of the Vine in 2022. Watch the post-film discussion featuring Napa director and filmmaker Brian Lila, Duskie Estes from Farm to Pantry, Darek Trowbridge from Old World Winery, and moderated by Megan Kaun from Sonoma Safe Ag Safe Schools.

"Farmers and scientists stand at a crossroads questioning the impacts of pesticides and herbicides on human health. At the center of this controversy is glyphosate, the primary active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the world. Glyphosate was recently identified as a possible cancer causing agent and is now found in breast milk, baby food, wine and 80% of food grown in the United States.

Why is glyphosate filtering into so many facets of our daily lives? And why are countries banning glyphosate while the United States uses more of it than any other country in the world? Children Of The Vine will peel back the curtain on the flawed regulatory practices that are causing more harm than good to public health while also revealing the scary science behind toxic farming practices. In the end, this solution driven documentary will highlight more sustainable large scale farming practices capable of feeding the world."

(6) Concluding notes

In the end, it doesn't really matter who's right or wrong or who wins or loses; the truth is that we all want the same thing and that it has more to do with love and connection than whether we use pesticides or not. Regardless of what we believe, what we hope will happen, or whichever side we identify with, truth is the great equalizer; it sets us ALL free.

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