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In the last couple of days news has come out that the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has blasted the EPA's approval of Dicamba herbicide, saying that the approval was wrong and that the use of Dicamba herbicide should be discontinued. Jeffrey explains exactly why this news is so important and impactful for both farmers and the health of our planet.
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This week's Transcript
I've got some amazing news. You may have heard it. It's just breaking recently. The announcement went out yesterday (06/03/2020), but I want to give you the impact of it. The courts--the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals--in a three-judge panel ruled that the EPA‘s approval of Dicamba herbicide (and I'll explain why this is so huge) was wrong. They blasted the EPA for incredible negligence and said no one can use Dicamba.
Now, to put this into perspective, Roundup has been driving the motors of Monsanto for years. Monsanto was bought by Bayer, and it was purchased at a ridiculous time because not only was there a ruling that it (Roundup) could cause cancer but also there was an enormous amount of weeds developing resistance to the chief poison in Roundup, called glyphosate.
Monsanto developed new seeds for cotton and soybean crops that will be resistant not only to glyphosate (Roundup), but also to Dicamba, because they want to mix the two together, and they figured that the cocktail of these two poisons would end up killing these Roundup-resistant weeds. So this was a huge marketing ploy by Monsanto. And VASF and Cartiva, two other GMO makers, picked it up, and they created the same Dicamba and glyphosate mixture, and they got it approved by the EPA.
People have been using Dicamba for 50 years, but they use it early in the season because Dicamba has the capacity to do what's called volatilize. It can grow, it can end up in the air and move, and then land on other crops to damage them. And there were a million acres at the last count of crops that were damaged. Actually, I've heard much larger numbers--thousands, and thousands of complaints by farmers that their soybean fields, their peach trees, their gardens, their grasses-- were damaged by the movement of Dicamba from these cotton and soybean fields.
To put it into perspective, the number of fields planted was huge. In 2018 there were 103 million acres of soybeans and cotton planted in the United States and 56 million acres out of 103 (the majority) were planted with seeds with Monsanto's Dicamba-tolerant trait. This was up from 27 million in 2017. The majority of soybeans and cotton were planted to seeds that were resistant to Dicamba, and as of two days ago, no farmer is legally allowed to use Dicamba. They're stuck with Roundup, which doesn't work. Why do they know it doesn't work? Because they end up with pigweed, which is like the nightmare weed resistant to Roundup and can grow 10 feet high. It can have 400,000 seeds and it can have stocks as large as baseball bats that are so sharp it can puncture the tires of tractors. So they have been trying to weed in these cotton fields and in these soy fields in the South with hoes and machetes. This was going to be their savior, Dicamba, but it turned out to be their nightmare. In Arkansas and Missouri, there's been so much damage that they banned the use of Dicamba--which was in some cases overturned by the EPA.
You’ll love this! What did the courts say about the EPA? First of all, it was a unanimous decision, all three judges. They said the EPA made multiple errors. They failed to properly assess the risks of damaging the neighbor's crops--we know that-- and they understated the risks that they did acknowledge, and they didn't even acknowledge other risks.
One of the worst was to tear the fabric of society in farm communities, where one farmer uses the product and destroys his neighbor's crop, creating a disaster where farmers won't even talk to each other at church. There was one farmer that was gunned down, killed by another farmer during an argument over Dicamba. We've heard stories that the whole tension in the farm belt where this is sprayed has been a disaster.
They also underestimated or did not acknowledge the anti-competitive effects of this poison. What does that mean? It means if you're growing cotton or soybeans next to a farm that uses the Dicamba-resistant crops and sprays Dicamba, then that means your crops will be damaged. Now, you can file a complaint. Thousands did and nothing happened in most cases. And so what do you do? You're forced to buy the seeds that are resistant to Dicamba. You don't want to buy Monsanto seeds. Maybe you don't even want to buy GMOs at all, but you're forced to buy Monsanto's Dicamba-resistant seeds.
This was a plan. In fact, these papers outlining the plan to force the farmers nearby to adopt the seeds as part of the marketing plan was made public because of a recent lawsuit by a peach farmer in Missouri, who won his lawsuit. He claimed he had $25 million worth of damages. It killed hundreds of his 25,000 peach trees. And the jury did not agree to give him $25 million in and compensatory damages. They only gave him $15 million. But they gave him $250 million in punitive damages. What are punitive damages? It means, in reading of the record and hearing the testimonies of experts, the jury agreed that Monsanto and DASF had acted in a malicious manner and needed to be punished.
They knew -they even predicted- the number of thousands of complaints. They knew in advance that their product was going to damage other farms, gardens, and wildlife. They knew it was going to force farmers to adopt their seeds. They lied about the effectiveness of their product, and they lied about and underestimated its ability to volatilize and move.
In addition to that, the judges blamed the EPA for failing to try and even collect the data that would paint an accurate picture of the damage, and that they dramatically understated the damage during the 2018 growing season. They refused to estimate the amount of Dicamba damage, characterizing it as “potential” and “alleged,” when record evidence--this is a quote: “...show that Dicamba had caused substantial and undisputed damage.”
The EPA also came up with all these restrictions: you have to use it where the wind's not blowing and when it's between this temperature and that temperature. The judge said that the EPA failed to acknowledge that restrictions it placed on the use of the Dicamba herbicide would not be followed. Even the expert pesticide applicators could not follow the directions that were enforced by the EPA. This was an amazing statement.
First of all, we want to thank the National Family Farm Coalition, the Center for Food Safety, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Pesticide Action Network of North America for filing this brilliant lawsuit resulting in this unprecedented action. What's interesting is this: Think about Bayer that just bought Monsanto. It was reported (I gave a live Facebook about this) that there was an oral agreement for a $10 billion settlement with 85,000 people who had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma or who were related to people who died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after using Roundup. And there are another 40,000 people that are not part of that settlement, so a $10 billion minimum payout if that goes forward. Then you have the $265 million punitive and compensatory damages to the peach farmer in Missouri. Now you have thousands of other farmers who are waiting for their day in court, and they could be bolstered by the fact that when the judges looked at the EPA rulings (the EPA completely screwed it up), the documents made public from the lawsuit--which will be available for future lawsuits--will show that Monsanto was plotting this type of damage to force other farmers to use it. We already saw what one group of jurors did.
So this is a huge blow because now we also have farmers that planted 56 million acres. They can't use Dicamba legally anymore. When they try to use Roundup, it's only going to work on some of their weeds, and they're going to have to deploy labor to chop at the weeds that are not dying. And so next year, when they buy their seeds, are they going to buy Roundup-ready seeds? They may buy seeds that are a combination of Roundup-ready and 2,4-D (which is a disaster-- that's part of Agent Orange). Hopefully, they will see the writing on the wall and buy non-GMO seeds, and actually have a better marketplace because we will demand non-GMO soy and cotton products.
So that's the report. It's absolutely epic because it's like they are running out of new pesticides. There are no new pesticides for years. They were dusting off old pesticides like Dicamba and 2,4-D to try and bring them into modern use by creating herbicide-tolerant crops that were herbicide-tolerant to both Roundup and the Dicamba. That has failed. All of these farmers that bought the seeds are angry at Monsanto and the EPA and VASF, and now we, and Bayer is looking at why the heck did we buy Monsanto? Maybe they will just spin off the agricultural division and starve it off so that it won't be able to pay for itself. We'll see if that's true.
If you get a chance, go over to responsibletechnology.org and go to News, and scroll down to my testimony associated with the Bayer annual shareholder meeting. And we have a two-minute video called “Corporate Karma.” In it, I predict that simply because of the massive health dangers now linked to Roundup--not just non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma -- will ultimately cost them more than $10 billion. Not just the other cancers that are linked to Roundup, which will cost them a ton, but also more than two dozen other diseases, from autism and diabetes and kidney failure and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and liver problems among others. Just on that alone, they will likely go bankrupt unless they radically change. You'll see in the “Corporate Karma” video (2 minutes), what suggestions I gave them. But if you add to that the damage done by Dicamba—huge!
There's another stone that's not yet unturned. When you look at what happens to farmers who switch from GMO feed to non-GMO feed for their cattle and their pigs and their chickens, their animals get healthier. More of them survive the process of grazing. They end up getting less sick, and farmers end up making more money. Could you imagine what would happen with a raft of lawsuits from livestock producers who have been raising livestock for 10 years on GMO feed and realize they've been losing billions of dollars or more en masse? We are seeing the corporate karma returned to Bayer from Monsanto's actions. So they have some important decisions to make. And you'll see in the “Corporate Karma” video the decisions I asked them to make could possibly protect them from going bankrupt. Anyway, more good news coming later.
Safe eating, everyone.
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