27 January, 2017 By Colin Todhunter
“The British Government has colluded with Monsanto and should be held accountable in the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity and ecocide.” Dr Rosemary Mason.
The British public and the environment are being poisoned with a deadly cocktail of 320 pesticides. Moreover, Wales has become a storage dump for Monsanto’s most toxic chemicals. These are the messages conveyed by Dr Rosemary Mason in her recent open letter to Councillor Rob Stewart, the leader of Swansea City and County Council.
Dr Mason adds that Swansea has over the years been a testing ground for glyphosate with the outcome being a huge spike in illness and disease among the local population as well as ongoing environmental devastation. There has been a long-term reckless use of a glyphosate-based weedkiller in Swansea, regardless of EU recommendations.
Dr Henk Tennekes, an independent toxicologist from the Netherlands, and Dr Pierre Mineau, an expert on ecotoxicology from Canada, both prophesied environmental catastrophe from the self-regulated and unsustainable use of pesticides by the agrochemical industry.
In Tennekes’ book, ‘The Systemic Insecticides: a disaster in the making’, he showed that these chemicals act on the brains of insects (and humans). He showed that collapse of bee colonies, the loss of other invertebrates and bird declines in Europe are associated with chronic low levels of these chemicals. Dr Pierre Mineau wrote a Report for the American Bird Conservancy ‘Neonicotinoids and Birds’ in which he accused the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of collusion with the agrochemical industry and negligence.
Mason has written to the relevant UK authorities about these issues and the situation in Wales, but the UK Environment Agency has refused to act.
Monsanto using Wales as a toxic dump
Monsanto established a factory in Newport in 1949, and Mason notes that the company paid a contractor to illegally dump chemical waste in Brofiscin Quarry, Grosfaen. These included polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), the defoliant Agent Orange and dioxins used in the Vietnam War. When PCBs were banned in the US, the UK government agreed to ramp up production in a Monsanto-owned factory in Wales in 1971. They were manufactured until 1977. Toxic dumps were established at seven quarries around Wales.
Brofiscin Quarry in Grosfaen, near Cardiff, is one of the most contaminated places in Britain. In 2003, the lining of the quarry burst and the orange contents drained into west Cardiff. According to engineering company WS Atkins, the site contains at least 67 toxic chemicals. The Environment Agency claimed: “they offered no identifiable harm or immediate danger to human health.”
Citing a study by WWF-UK in 2003, Mason shows that residues of PCBs and other organochlorines were found in 75 adipose tissue samples taken from human cadavers throughout 1990 and early 1991 from Welsh populations. The researchers found: “little changes in the concentrations of these compounds in the Welsh population over the last decade, despite reduction in their use that came into force in the 1970s.”
Mason states that children in Wales have low scores in the PISA tests, a measure of reading, maths and science ability in 15 year olds, and low educational achievement in primary schools.
She also notes that organophosphate pesticides have supposedly been banned but are now used on salmon lice in fish farms: from 2006-2016 the salmon produced by fish farms has increased by 35%, but the use of OPs increased by 932%.
Theresa May promoting the great agrochemicals-pharmaceuticals scam
Glyphosate contamination of food is associated with an epidemic of diseases: in 2012, the area treated by glyphosate in the UK was 1,750,000 ha and by 2014 it had increased to 2,250,000 ha. Glyphosate (captures) and washes out the following minerals: boron, calcium, cobalt, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, nickel and zinc.
Hypercholesterolaemia caused by glyphosate is now treated by statins.
The enzyme aromatase is activated by glyphosate and atrazine. Aromatase inhibitors are used to treat breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Mason says that the UK prides itself in being ‘in the forefront of new technologies’ that its companies can sell privately to the rich or to other countries: many are drugs to treat the toxic effects of pesticides. These include treatment for infertility, gene therapy, new treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes and drugs to boost immunity.
Theresa May was very upbeat about Brexit: she said Britain had many things to sell to the world including chemicals, pharmaceuticals and medical expertise.
Cover-ups, deceptions and the dodging regulation
The industry has worked overtime to cover-up its crimes, to try and discredit those who challenge its products and practices and to put a positive spin on what it does. Mason discusses the Seralini affair and how a massive PR campaign sprang into operation to try to discredit the study and pressurize the editor of the journal that published it to retract it. The UK-based Science Media Centre (SMC) was in the forefront of the attacks. The SMC defends and promotes GM technology and is 70% funded by corporations, including Monsanto and other big GMO developer firms.
The SMC’s director was subsequently reported as saying that she took pride in the fact that the SMC’s “emphatic thumbs down” on the study “had largely been acknowledged throughout UK newsrooms.” Bruce M. Chassy, professor emeritus of food science at the University of Illinois provided scathing quotes about the study.
Yes, that Bruse Chassey: the one later exposed as having received a grant from Monsanto of more than $57,000 in less than two years.
Mason says that in Wales there are cancer/disease hotspots in the surrounding villages where Roundup has been sprayed: for example, brain tumours (mostly glioblastomas), cancers of the breast, ovary, prostate, lung (more than half of which were in non-smokers), oesophagus, colon, pancreas, rectum, and kidney as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), uterine carcinoma, leiomyosarcoma of the uterus, multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, motor-neurone disease and Alzheimer’s/Dementia. Many of the cancers are aggressive and unusual; they resemble the cancers that were seen in factory workers in the pesticides industry in the 1960s.
And yet a global biocide industry has emerged to advise on dodging regulations. It is controlled by the pesticides industry and is based in the UK making lots of money for Britain.
Mason cites the example of Exponent Inc., which describes itself as “a research and scientific consultant firm with clients from industry (including crop protection) and government.” Exponent was employed by Bayer to criticise EFSA’s work on neonicotinoids and bees in 2013. It also contributed to a review by a Dow employee that concluded that “exposure to specific pesticides during critical periods of brain development and neurobehavioral outcomes is not compelling.” This review was supported by the various UK government agencies.
Glyphosate and the destruction of biodiversity
In her letter, Mason describes how Japanese knotweed Reynoutrie japonica was introduced to Europe in the mid-16 Century. For 500 years, it caused no problems. Glyphosate was introduced in 1974 and by 1981 both plants were classified in the Wildlife and Countryside Act as invasive species. Mason argues that Swansea has been a test-bed for Roundup and is known as the Japanese knotweed capital of Europe because recurrent spraying makes the plants grow bigger and stronger. It grows in in old mine workings where the soil is loose. So, the people most affected by Roundup are the poor.
She then highlights that in the US the first confirmed glyphosate-resistant weed, rigid ryegrass, was reported in 1998 within two years of Roundup Ready crops being grown. Super-weeds in the US in GM cropping systems are now a massive problem. Between 1996 and 2011, as a result of GM technology, 22 glyphosate-resistant super-weeds had developed.
In 2016, Charles Benbrook said:
“Since 1974 in the U.S., over 1.6 billion kilograms of glyphosate active ingredient have been applied, or 19 % of estimated global use of glyphosate (8.6 billion kilograms). Globally, glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since so-called “Roundup Ready,” genetically engineered glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced in 1996. Two-thirds of the total volume of glyphosate applied in the U.S. from 1974 to 2014 has been sprayed in just the last 10 years.”
The 2016 UK State of Nature Report highlights the devastating loss of biodiversity in the UK.
What we are seeing a war on any plant (or creature) that is not part of the moncultured (increasingly genetically engineered) system of agriculture favoured by the agrichemicals/agritech cartel.
What can be done?
At the end of her letter, Rosemary Mason states:
“The people of Wales are sick and NHS Wales is in crisis. Human health depends on biodiversity and Wales has an environmental catastrophe caused by pesticides.”
The UK government is engaged in criminality by colluding with agrochemicals manufacturers that are knowingly poisoning people and the environment in the name of profit and greed. As Mason points out, communities, countries, ecosystems and species have become disposable inconveniences.
Corporate totalitarian tries to hide beneath an increasingly fragile facade of democracy.
The agrochemicals industry lobbies hard to have its products put on the market and ensures that they remain there. It uses PR firms and front groups to discredit individuals and studies which show the massive health and environmental devastation caused and gets its co-opted figures to sit on bodies to guarantee policies favourable to its interest are put in place. Mason has documented all of this in her numerous fully-referenced documents and has identified and named the culprits.
We have enough information to know that agrochemicals are killing us and exactly who (corporations, public bodies and individuals) is culpable.
Readers can consult all of Mason’s fully-referenced documents here.
The regulatory system surrounding agrochemicals is not broken and in need of a bit of tinkering to put things right. From bought-and-paid-for science and public relations that masquerades as journalism to policy implementation and the lack of regulation, the argohemicals industry wallows in a highly profitable cesspool of corruption. Money wields power and political influence.
We must restore the link between farmer and consumer and challenge the corporate hijack of the food system. As a global movement, Nyeleni has a radical agenda that is committed to challenging some of the issues that fuel the problems we are facing, including:
“Imperialism, neo-liberalism, neo-colonialism and patriarchy, and all systems that impoverish life, resources and eco-systems, and the agents that promote the above such as international financial institutions, the World Trade Organisation, free trade agreements, transnational corporations, and governments that are antagonistic to their peoples.”
The Nyeleni Europe website contains some valuable information.
The agrochemicals industry continues to get away with crimes against humanity and the environment. Not everyone can grow their own or afford to eat healthily all the time and no one can escape the pollution and destruction of the environment and the impacts. The aim must be to educate, organise, agitate and inform the wider public who are gradually waking up to the reality of a corrupt food system.
“The model of production dominating European food systems is controlled by corporate interests and is based on concentrated power, monocultures, patenting seeds and livestock breeds, imposing pesticides and fertilisers…. it is a system perpetuated by ineffective regulation and unjust laws. Across Europe we are developing and supporting local food systems, swapping local seeds, realising peasants’ rights, building the fertility of our soils, and strengthening and increasing the resilience of local production and food webs. We need to strengthen local food cultures and public policies that support links between producers and consumers… .” Nyeleni Europe
Readers are urged to consult ‘Roundup and birth defects-the public has been kept in the dark’ by Rosemary Mason (2017), a 44-page, fully-referenced document
Colin Todhunter is an independent writer