Monsanto: Found Guilty of Being Monsanto
In August, a California jury awarded a man $289 million in a lawsuit against Monsanto, now part of Bayer. The San Francisco jury awarded a school groundskeeper the money, deciding Monsanto’s glyphosate likely contributed to his cancer.
The business of Agriculture has been abuzz ever since the ruling using facts and science to explain how wrong the jury was. There’s the problem. People don’t do facts and science. People do emotion. Juries are people.
We in Agriculture never understand why others don’t understand. Meanwhile our adversaries understand only too well how little understanding of science and facts exist. That’s why the opposition keeps winning.
In the 1970s, Monsanto invented glyphosate and named it Roundup. Today, glyphosate is the world’s most widely used herbicide. It has been found in multiple studies to be safe. There are other studies that say otherwise.
These are issues of science. Unfortunately, science wasn’t on trial, Monsanto was.
The case was tried in the most liberal city in the most liberal state in the union. Plaintiff’s attorneys didn’t file suit there by accident. You can say this isn’t about politics, but in many ways it is.
Monsanto is the company liberals love to hate. They’ve vilified it for years with left -leaning documentaries such as Food Inc. They’ve protested via the “March Against Monsanto.”
Take a political poll of the anti GMO crowd and you’ll find a definite tilt leftward. And most opponents of genetically engineered crops equate GMO with, you guessed it, Monsanto.
Politics aside, spend a couple hours online reading reactions to this verdict. I did. The massive amount of Agricultural ignorance scared me. After decades of demonizing a herbicide maker, the Marchers Against Monsanto have formed a lynch mob.
So plaintiff’s attorneys seeking to get rich, put Monsanto on trial, not a herbicide. They won.
Enter Environmental Working Group
In a well timed act of furthering food fear, The Environmental Working Group released their (scientifically suspect) findings of glyphosate in cereal.
Environmental Working Group calls itself a “public health organization.” But they’re mostly an anti- modern Agriculture organization. They’re also a “non profit” activist group. Which means the more they scare people into thinking Monsanto is poisoning them, the more tax deductible contributions they can solicit.
Main stream media is the Environmental Working Group’s willing ally, because food fear sells media too. Take this headline in The Guardian, for example:
Weedkiller found in wide range of breakfast foods aimed at children
— Cancer linked herbicide, sold as Roundup by Monsanto, present in 45 products including granola, snack bars, and Cheerios
Thousands of media outlets ran similar headlines and stories. All based on an activist group’s press release.
Trial lawyers want to profit. Activist organizations alleging environmental causes want to profit and destroy. Working together, the two groups found Monsanto guilty of being Monsanto.
At this writing, there are 8,700 additional lawsuits filed and likely thousands more to come. At $289 million each, the cost of lawsuits approaches $3 trillion. No company could withstand even a fraction of such a payout.
With Monsanto and Bayer destroyed, what happens? Glyphosate, after all, is off patent. Several companies make the herbicide now. That may be the best news for trial lawyers and organizations like Environmental Working Group.
Remember, activists and attorneys don’t go away once they’ve killed their initial prey. They simply move on to other prey.
Damian Mason is an Agriculturist, Businessman, Ag podcaster, and Author. www.damianmason.com