2.Dow wants 'agent orange soya' in Brazil
3.Dow GM Soya: A Step Back Into the Dark Ages
TAKE ACTION: DEMAND JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS OF AGENT ORANGE
NOTE: An estimated 2-5 million Vietnamese have been disabled from dioxin exposure thanks to Agent Orange, which was widely used as a defoliant by the U.S. Government during the Vietnam War and which was later shown to be highly carcinogenic. Agent Orange has also been subsequently linked to multiple illnesses, including most recently heart disease and Parkinson's.
An estimated 500,000 Vietnamese children have been born with deformities attributed to Agent Orange, leading to calls for Monsanto to be prosecuted for war crimes. Monsanto is particularly in the frame because, although it wasn't the only corporation that profited from manufacturing Agent Orange for the U.S. military, the Agent Orange produced by Monsanto had dioxin levels many times higher than that produced by Dow Chemicals, the other major supplier of Agent Orange.
This made Monsanto the key defendant in the lawsuit, discussed in the article below, brought by Vietnam War veterans in the United States, who faced an array of debilitating symptoms attributable to Agent Orange exposure. Internal Monsanto memos show that Monsanto knew of the problems of dioxin contamination of Agent Orange when it sold it to the U.S. government for use in Vietnam.
No compensation has been paid to Vietnamese civilians and, though some compensation was paid to U.S. veterans, according to William Sanjour who led the Toxic Waste Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "thousands of veterans were disallowed benefits" because "Monsanto studies showed that dioxin [as found in Agent Orange] was not a human carcinogen." An EPA colleague discovered that Monsanto had apparently falsified the data in their studies. Sanjour says, "If [the studies] were done correctly, they would have reached just the opposite result."
1.US chemical companies concealed effects of dioxin, say advocates
Reported by An Dien Jon Dillingham
Thanh Nien Daily, August 6 2009
An American lawyer and a French activist say chemical companies that produced Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant used by the US Army during the Vietnam War, connived to cover up its dangers.
The following are excerpts from interviews conducted with Gerson H. Smoger, a lawyer who has represented American Agent Orange victims for years, and Marie Helene Lavallard, a member of the French-Vietnamese Friendship Association, on how US chemical companies hid the fact that they knew how hazardous Agent Orange was.
Thanh Nien Daily: How can these companies get away with compensating Americans but not Vietnamese?
Smoger: I would not say that they "got away with compensating," because I can assure you that the responsible chemical companies had no interest in compensating anyone. Also, unfortunately, the chemical companies have never really compensated the vast majority of American veterans either. While there was a settlement entered into in 1984, the money ran out in 1994. Of the 2.4 million Americans who served in Vietnam, only about 60,000 ever received anything from the companies”¦ Given how long it takes to get cancer from the chemicals, virtually none of the veterans who got cancer have received any compensation from the companies...
...I have reviewed literally millions of pages of documents...It seems that the manufacturers conspired to hide the dangers from the US government and the rest of the world. The chemical companies knew about the dangers and held secret meetings with the purpose of conspiring to keep the knowledge of the dangers from the US government.
Lavallard: The first thing to do is consider separately the 1984 agreement [with US Veterans] and the 2004-2008 lawsuit [filed by Vietnamese victims], not because they are separated by 20 years, though they are, but because they have almost nothing in common. The settlement of 1984 was not a judgment; on the contrary it was made to avoid a lawsuit”¦ Why did the parties choose a private settlement?
One has to consider the background. In 1980, 1983 and 1984, three studies were published by Dr. George Roush, the medical director of Monsanto. They asserted, especially the last two, that Agent Orange had no inconvenient effects on human health. Of course, they were faked but that was discovered only years later. At the moment, they were "The Truth." So the veterans were afraid of losing everything with the lawsuit and preferred a settlement...On Monsanto's side, they were up to the nostrils in the Times Beach scandal, a small town so contaminated by TCDD that finally the US government bought it all in February 1983 and had it scratched from the surface of the earth. Monsanto was guilty and was organizing its defense. It did not need the bad publicity of a lawsuit for Agent Orange. Do not ask if it escaped the Times Beach condemnation, it did, having people destroying the necessary documents.
Not the slightest "moral" feeling in this settlement. Just a cynical and clever way to pay a small sum to avoid a bigger disgrace. The amount was ridiculous. Once the lawyers had taken their share, the compensations for some 40,000 people ranged from US$256-12 800, with an estimated mean of $4,000. Even in 1984 it was not much. For those who received their share in the last years up to 1994 it was simply alms ...the judge did not rule in favor of the American victims. It was a private settlement, such as the American law permits. It was not generous.
As for the Vietnamese victims, be sure the corporations do not care at all for them. They knew their herbicides were lethal, and they got along to hide it from the US Army at a Dow-Monsanto secret meeting in 1965. They could have produced the herbicides with much less TCDD, or even without it, but they were only interested in making as much money as possible selling as many gallons as possible as quickly as possible.
Thanh Nien Daily: Should the US do more to help clean up Agent Orange "hot-spots" in Vietnam?
Lavallard: Easy question: The US government requested and obtained $120 million from Hercules, a chemical company who manufactured herbicides for the war and moved to another place without cleaning its former plant. Just calculate!
Whatever the "legal" aspect, the USA are responsible for poisoning huge parts of Vietnam. They made the mess, they have to clean it. I notice that this question is much easier than the question of sanitary damages. For those, there are still arguments about proofs, scientific enough or not, diseases due to sprayings or to other reasons, etc. But for the environment, the question is perfectly clear: the US wanted to destroy the forest, they succeeded. They wanted to ban the peasants away from their rice fields, they did. They wanted to destroy the crops, they did, and some contaminated areas remain unsuitable and dangerous to live in.
2.Dow wants 'orange soya' in Brazil
GM-Free Brazil Campaign, 9 June 2009
Brazil, Rio de Janeiro - On May 18th Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of the US company Dow Chemical, issued a request to the National Technical Commission for Biosafety (CTNBio) to undertake field trials with a GM soya variety tolerant to the 2,4-D herbicide.
Affiliated to Brazil’s Ministry of Science and Technology, CTNBio is responsible for analyzing and authorizing the release of GM organisms in Brazil. Since its creation in 1996, its actions have consistently shown an intransigent defence of transgenic crops and a highly questionable level of technical rigour.
Glyphosate-tolerant soya has been widely planted in Brazil for years and, inevitably, has already led to the development of resistance in some wild plants, which are no longer controlled by the herbicide.
2,4-D, manufactured by Dow, is an auxinic herbicide considered much more toxic than glyphosate (itself toxic). Just to give an idea, glyphosate, whose harmful effects on the environment and human health have been widely denounced, is classified by Anvisa (Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency) as ‘Toxicological Class IV Mildly Toxic.’ On the other hand, the 2,4-D herbicide is ‘Class I Extremely Toxic.’
2,4-D was also one of the two components of the infamous ‘agent orange,’ the defoliant used in the Vietnam War responsible for thousands of cases of cancer, leukaemia and neurological pathologies, as well as the birth of countless babies with physical and mental problems.
Indeed, the launch of a variety of soya tolerant to such a harmful herbicide is so shocking that neither the company nor CTNBio had the courage to publicize the fact openly.
The Brazilian press reported that Dow would enter the Brazilian GM soya seed market with “a new herbicide-tolerant variety tolerant,” without specifying which herbicide was involved. A company director merely reported that the new variety would be tolerant to ‘auxins.’
CTNBio also omitted the information, referring generically to “genetically modified herbicide-tolerant soya.”
Dow’s requests for field trials include a maize tolerant to the 2,4-D and haloxyfop-R herbicides. The latter has not been given registration for use in the USA on the basis that it causes cancer and congenital defects in laboratory animals. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) classified it as a “probable human carcinogen.” Transgenic soya tolerant to haloxifop-R would have high levels of residues of a herbicide that has not been authorized for use even in its country of origin.
The formula GM soya + glyphosate represents a disaster for farmers and a threat to the health of consumers. Moreover, as everyone involved knows, its agricultural efficiency will last no more than a few years. The fact that Dow is preparing to launch crops tolerant to 2,4-D and haloxyfop-R only confirms the reports that glyphosate is no longer controlling weeds effectively. And to get round a problem created by themselves, the companies are proposing an alternative even more harmful than the first!
CTNBio’s scientists know as well as ourselves the devastating effects that this kind of production could provoke on a large scale. Even so, they are almost certain to favour the company by opening up a gigantic market for the herbicide, once again claiming that “the protein produced by the new GMO is safe” and that “it is not up to them to evaluate the toxicity of the herbicide.” If the Commission approves the field trials, there is a very good chance it will later approve commercial use of the GM crop. After all, as the argument goes within CTNBio, “it makes no sense for the company to conduct trials knowing that its produce won't be marketed in the future.”
Brazil’s National Congress has also done its part in defending Dow’s commercial interests. Last month, the Environment Commission of the Chamber of Deputies rejected three law bills designed to ban the use of agrochemicals containing 2,4-D. The proposal had also been rejected earlier by the Chamber’s Agriculture Commission.
We have no news of transgenic soya varieties tolerant to 2,4-D being approved in any other country. The companies apparently want to use Brazil as a point of entry for this disastrous technology.
It is worth remembering that Brazil is the world’s second largest exporter of soya (last year 24.5 million tons were shipped). The European Union imports around 36 million tons of soybean and soymeal each year, more than half of which comes from Brazil. Most of this soya is used to feed animals, which, if this aberration is approved, will consume extremely contaminated feed.
It is important to note too the complete lack of control in segregating Brazilian crops. The country’s mainstream media has highlighted the problem caused by widespread contamination of soya crops by GM varieties, which is making conventional and organic production impossible in various regions. According to all the large cooperatives and cereal producers, Brazil’s first harvest of transgenic maize, which is beginning to be harvested now, will not be separated from the conventional crop.
The producers complain that no infrastructure exists for segregating the crops in the country (no regulations for segregating maize have been issued) and that the government says that it will only actively intervene and inspect harvested produce if and when complaints are made. Absence of control reigns supreme in the field. A government representative went as far as to declare to one of the biggest Brazilian newspapers that "control is an unnecessary luxury."
A campaign by European consumers and authorities aimed at dissuading Brazilian producers and authorities from approving the new 2,4-D tolerant variety would be extremely beneficial right now.
GM-FREE BRAZIL - Published by AS-PTA Agricultura Familiar e Agroecologia. The GM-Free Brazil Campaign is a collective of Brazilian NGOs, social movements and individuals.
AS-PTA an independent, not-for-profit Brazilian organisation dedicated to promoting the sustainable rural development. Head office: Rua da CandelÃ¡ria, 9/6º andar/ CEP: 20.091-020, Centro, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Phone: 0055-21-2253-8317 Fax: 0055-21-2233-363
This article can be found on the AS-PTA website at http://www.aspta.org.br/por-um-brasil-livre-de-transgenicos/updates
3.Dow GM Soya: A Step Back Into the Dark Ages
GM Freeze, June 13 2009
Dow AgroSciences' recent request  to the regulatory authorities in Brazil to field test a new GM soya bean tolerant to weedkillers 2,4 D and haloxyfop R has been described by GM Freeze as "a step back into the Dark Ages".
2,4 D , which kills broad leaf weeds, has been approved since the 1940s and was a constituent part of Agent Orange - the defoliant used by the US during the war in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. It is rated as "moderately toxic" and is considered by some authorities to be a possible cancer-causing agent. It can be washed from the soil after application and has been a pollutant in untreated drinking water in the UK. It is highly toxic to fish. It is still approved for use in the EU.
Dow's application for the approval of haloxyfop R has been rejected by the EU, citing :
* The potential contamination of groundwater * The risk to mammals * The high toxicity to fish
The only GM herbicide tolerant crop currently approved for growing in Brazil is Monsanto's Roundup Ready (RR) soya, which is tolerant to the weedkiller Roundup. The introduction of RR soya in 1996 was hailed as a way to reduce herbicide use and protect the environment form other, more harmful weedkillers. However new evidence is emerging that casts increasing doubts about the safety of Roundup , particularly significant for farmers handling Roundup or people living near sprayed fields. The legal limit on maximum residues was increased two hundred times to accommodate the use of Roundup on GM soya beans imported into Europe, mainly for animal feed .
Dow's new proposed GM may increase residues of 2,4 D or haloxyfop R in soya imports in the future.
In addition, weed resistance to Roundup is developing fast in North and South America, making the GM seeds both ineffective and expensive to use, as farmers now must apply extra weedkillers to kill the resistant weeds. In Argentina, Roundup resistant Johnson grass was first found in 2005, and since then it has infested at least 10,000 hectares of soya land, with some reports saying 100,000 hectares are affected . More and more herbicides are being used to combat resistance following the adoption of RR crops in North and South America.
Weed resistance is now driving the push for new herbicide tolerant crops, such as those being developed by Dow.
Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:
"GM Roundup tolerant crops were supposed to reduce weedkiller use and cut out the need for using more toxic chemicals such as 2,4 D. Scientists always warned that the overuse of Roundup would lead to resistance developing in weeds, and that is exactly what has happened. The proposal by Dow to introduce GM soya tolerant to 2,4 D and haloxyfop R is a step back into the Dark Ages - these are exactly the sort of products GM was supposed to phase out.
"GM herbicide tolerant crops can now be seen for what they are - a short term fix for companies wanting to make money selling weedkillers. The sooner farmers recognise this and return to crop rotations and other agroecological approaches to control weeds the better."
1. See www.aspta.org.br/por-um-brasil-livre-de-transgenicos/updates/update-june-2009/
2. See PAN UK Briefing www.pan-uk.org/pestnews/Actives/24d.htm
3. See http://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/protection/evaluation/existactive/haloxyfop-r.pdf
4. Benachour N and Séralini G-E, 2009. Glyphosate Formulations Induce Apoptosis and Necrosis in Human Umbilical, Embryonic, and Placental Cells, Chemical Research in Toxicology Vol22 No1 pp 97-105 available from http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/tx800218n
5. See www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199899/cmhansrd/vo990714/text/90714w21.htm#90714w21.htm_sbhd4
6. See www.weedscience.org/Case/Case.asp?ResistID=5271