Spring Gillard

Monsanto Comes Clean. Briefly.

Some time ago an email came through one of the farmer listservs to which I subscribe. It was allegedly from the Monsanto website, a fact sheet on pesticide use, copyrighted 1999. And what followed was a list of surprising statistics. According to the author of the email, the fact sheet was withdrawn from the site in January 2001. A U.S. organic grower on the listserv speculated on why Monsanto would ever post such an incriminating document in the first place. “I guess Monsanto is trying to prove that we need GMOs [genetically modified organisms], so they are coming clean on pesticides.” Monsanto, seller of genetically modified seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, claims that their genetically engineered products can help to reduce the use of pesticides, but the evidence is in, that in fact the opposite is true.

Here are a few of the highlights from the document:

-Number of pesticides presently on the market that were registered before being tested to determine if they caused cancer, birth defects or wildlife toxicity: 400

-Amount of time it takes to ban a pesticide in the U.S. using present procedures: 10 years

-Number of active ingredients in pesticides found to cause cancer in animals or humans: 107

-Of those active ingredients, the number still in use today: 83

-Most serious cause of groundwater pollution confirmed in California: agricultural chemicals

-Number of people in the U.S. routinely drinking water contaminated with carcinogenic herbicides: 14 million

-Percentage of municipal water treatment facilities lacking equipment to remove these chemicals from the drinking water: 90 percent

-Of the 496 pesticides identified as likely to leave residues in food, the percentage which FDA tests can routinely detect: 40 percent

-Increase in cancer rates between 1950 and 1986: 37 percent

-Highest rate of chemical related illness of any occupational group in the U.S.: farm workers

-Pesticide related illnesses among farm workers in the U.S. each year: approximately 300,000

-Number of people in the U.S. who die each year from cancer related to pesticides: 10,400

Can anyone substantiate that this document was indeed on Monsanto’s website?

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