Renewable Farming

Monsanto asks court to bar cancer lawsuit plaintiff from citing “Whitewash” book

On May 25, author and researcher Carey Gillam received another “honor.” It rises from a lawsuit in the Superior Court of California filed by cancer victim Dewayne Johnson. The defendant, Monsanto Company, filed a motion asking the court “to exclude any evidence, argument or reference to a book authored by Carey Gillam titled Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science…

June 1, 2018    Weekend essay by Jerry Carlson — Monsanto’s motion argues that evidence in the book (and by extension, any general press citation) is “hearsay” inadmissible in court. A significant aspect of this motion is that Monsanto names Whitewash for specific, targeted exclusion.

The US Right to Know organization, where Gillam is research director, has posted a link to Monsanto’s legal motion. You can download it here as a PDF file.

Meanwhile, our website’s brief review of Whitewash a few days ago has gone viral, attracting more views than any of our news items except for our Moms Across America commentary I posted on Memorial Day.

Monsanto attorneys, challenged with multiple health-related lawsuits, must be starting to feel like Gulliver tied down by the Lilliputians. 

A few days earlier, another defender of glyphosate complained about press attacks on the weedkiller’s potential human-health impact. The widely read Canadian farm publication, Western Producer, editorialized that glyphosate is under fire for health concerns, and urging farmers to get out there “defending the safety and benefits of modern agriculture.” 

Specifically, the Western Producer writer reports that —

“Breweries are refusing to buy malt barley if it’s been sprayed with glyphosate before harvest, oat millers are telling growers not to apply the herbicide pre-harvest, and Italian pasta makers are refusing to buy Canadian durum partly because of concerns over glyphosate residues.”

On the malt barley issue, we’ve heard “hearsay” evidence (not admissible in court) a reason breweries reject barley and small grains with glyphosate residues: Supposedly, glyphosate impairs natural fermentation by yeasts. Brewers aren’t shouting the nature of those problems, but it’s well known that the first-patented use of glyphosate was to inhibit microorganisms. This is puzzling, because glyphosate’s impact on soils or the gut biome is to decimate bacteria, not fungi. Although yeasts are single-celled and part of the fungal kingdom, yeast organisms are different from fungi. They reproduce by budding, and this reproduction could be impacted by glyphosate.

But even when malting barley ferments adequately, major firms are wary of consumer concerns about glyphosate residues in their beer.

Whatever glyphosate’s effect on yeast, one of our farmer friends, Howard Vlieger, often notes in his seminars: “For a farmer with German ancestry, any problem with grain that creates problems for beer brewers is definitely a big problem.”

An antibiotic patent for glyphosate was filed in 2003 by William Abraham and assigned to Monsanto Technology LLC. It was approved Aug. 10, 2010. You can read at this link the patent details. The patent description makes clear that glyphosate inhibits a cell’s “shikimate” pathway, which is an enzymatic process critical to cells in a wide spectrum of microorganisms and crops. Monsanto’s claim that human cells don’t employ this shikimate enzyme, and is therefore safe for humans, overlooks the fact than many of the essential microbes in our digestive systems do rely on the enzyme. Several scientific studies show that glyphosate has the potential to disrup human metabolism, which is heavily dependent on the balance of bacteria and fungi in our gut “microbiome.” That microbial impairment and endocrine disruption apparently occurs at lower levels of food glyphosate residue than considered safe by FDA.

I can empathize with small-grain growers who face harvest struggles with uneven grain maturity. Pre-harvest glyphosate helps drops grain moisture levels. It also kills patches of tall green weeds. When I was a teenager in Page County, Iowa in the mid-1950s, I ran an Allis-Chalmers combine through wheat and oats on bottomland. Fields near the Nishna River were often infested with patches of weeds. I had to harvest around those patches, abandoning them. Otherwise, our combine chewed up green weed fragments, which infested grain in the bin. Scraps of wet greenery would trigger mold spots in stored grain, starting when newly-harvested small grains go through an initial “sweat” in the bin. 

 Another Canadian has a complaint which is totally opposite from Monsanto’s. Veterinarian Ted Dupmeier e-mailed us today saying he finds a stubborn defense of glyphosate safety among many of his veterinarian colleagues. Especially those who teach at universities. A few months ago we published a report describing work by “Dr. Ted” which literally gets into the guts of the issue. In postmortem exams, Dr. Dupmeier sees case after case of livestock organ damage he traces to GMO rations laced with glyphosate residue.

On May 28, he attended a University of Calgary veterinarian roundtable discussion where large-animal practitioners presented problem cases. 

In the first case, an 800-cow beef herd grazing Roundup Ready corn sprayed with glyphosate presented unusually high calf deaths. Postmortem exams shown navel infections and other indications of weak immune systems. 

In the second case, a 36-cow herd had 18 calves born with “dwarf-type syndrome” which can result from manganese deficiency.

Dr. Dupmeier told his colleagues how his case histories show that glyphosate residues in grain and forage can chelate or lock up manganese, resulting in manganese deficiency. This occurs at a certain time during calf gestation. “My comments fell on a dead audience,” he said in his e-mail. “I got a lot of looks and groans from veterinarians that ‘this old vet is obviously nuts.'”

In our earlier summary of Dr. Dupmeier’s first-hand analysis, he reasons this way on the impact of glyphosate residue in animal rations:

1. Gut bacteria dysbiosis: Enterococcus Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus decrease; Clostridia proliferate.
2. Mineral chelation such as Mn and Cobalt.
3. Immune system dysfunction.
4. Hormone dysfunction.
5. Disruption of biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids such as phenylalanine tyrosine and tryptophan with resulting problems.
6. Facilitates mycotoxin growth.

I recall visiting several years ago with another veterinarian, Dr. Dan Skow, who consulted with a South African corn grower regarding mysterious maladies among his farm workers. Skow: “The grower told me his workers have always relied on corn as their main dietary energy for generations. The workers’ sickness started when he switched to GMO corn. As they had for generations, the workers continued eating corn in the following years. But now it was GMO-traited corn, sprayed with glyphosate. Those employees are hard-working and always on the job if they’re able. But the farmer reported, ‘When you see their eyes start to roll uncontrollably, you can expect they’ll be dead in a few days.'” 

Farmworkers’ deaths didn’t occur quickly. They sickened after months or years on a steady diet of glyphosate-treated corn, plus field exposure to sprays. Dr. Skow told the grower to return any traited seed corn and order replacement non-GMO hybrids. I tried to follow up on Doc’s report, and the best evidence I’ve found is that the workers’ health problems retreated. 

But that entire South African report is just… “hearsay.”