Despathy: Is suing Monsanto enough?

Breaking the cycle of abuse

by Alison Despathy

On July 7, Vermont’s Attorney General Charity Clark explained she is suing Monsanto and holding them accountable for the manufacture and sale of highly toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which contaminate the water, wildlife, schools and people of Vermont. If successful, Vermont will join rank with the state of Oregon who received a historic $698 million settlement from Monsanto in December 2022 to resolve their PCB contamination issue.

No doubt a win would help Vermont access funds to remediate the problem. But is this action enough?

The deeper issue lies in the fact that global corporations and industry have been poisoning people and the earth for centuries. Most disturbing is that this abusive situation is not a rare event; this is a pattern, a vicious cycle of experimentation on the earth and humans that has led to the death and injury of millions.

Alison Despathy

It is more than apparent that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as federal regulating agencies have NOT successfully fulfilled their mission of protecting the people and the environment from corporate abuse and toxic products. For decades, the American people have borne the brunt from their abysmal failure.

Sadly there are many examples. I have taught in the Vermont State College Systems and have had a nutrition practice for almost 25 years and I have tried desperately through this entire time to spread the word about artificial trans fats and their connection with heart disease—the number one killer in the US.

Artificial trans fats, also known as hydrogenated oils, were prevalent in margarine, processed food and fast food. A CDC briefing from 2019 states “Every year, more than half a million deaths from coronary artery disease worldwide may be attributable to high intakes of trans fatty acids.” 

I have painfully watched people continue to eat artificial trans fats because the FDA failed for over 100 years to do the right thing. Why were they ever approved in the first place is the real question.

One of my favorite scientists, Dr. Fred Kummerow, worked for 60 years to ban artificial trans fats. He had all the evidence, tried all the routes and was ignored.

Finally in 2013, he sued the FDA. Three months later the FDA announced that due to an inability to ensure the safety of artificial trans fat, steps would be taken over several years to remove them from the food supply. Crisco, a tub of artificial trans fat hit the market in 1911. It literally took over a century, despite tremendous evidence, for the FDA to take action and do their job of protecting the food supply and consumers. This is beyond destructive.

Our federal regulatory agencies have been under corporate capture for decades. They have failed miserably and as a consequence, humans and the earth have suffered immeasurably. 

In order for humans and the earth to be protected from corporate abuse, we need functional and trustworthy regulating agencies which we do NOT have. The only level of defense is an informed, educated populace to try and avoid abuse and ensure that industry and the blind drive for profit does not run rampant at the expense of humans and the earth.

Literally millions of Americans have been killed and maimed from toxic products that have hit the market due to highly compromised regulatory policies and procedures- Vioxx, Opioids, mercury and aluminum adjuvants in vaccines, diethylstilbestrol (DES), Paraquat, Chlorpyrifos, Glyphosate–the pattern is entrenched, the list is endless, and the damage is massive.

Breaking this vicious cycle and establishing sound policy will be critical to the health of humanity and the earth. It should not take decades of abuse, death, injury and finally lawsuits to ban toxic products–yet this is the current paradigm. 

There is essentially an open door policy within the FDA and EPA that exists for new products. An “innocent until proven guilty approach” — which is guaranteed and constitutional for people accused of a crime — but absolutely should not be the case for new, experimental, patented chemicals released into humans and the environment.

Instead of independent proof of product safety, the federal regulating agency policy at this time is “we trust the safety studies from industry” and then when the damage ensues, it shifts to “prove they are unsafe and maybe if you sue us, we will ban them”. 

Excuses and delays used by regulating agencies and industry rely on the continuous call for more research and evidence to prove harm. This goes on for decades while damage accrues and then finally the lawsuits are filed which is a painstakingly slow process to force action. Just this past week in typical fashion, the World Health Organization announced that the artificial sweetener aspartame is a possible carcinogen, “while safety is not a major concern at the doses which are commonly used, potential side effects have been described that need to be investigated by more and better studies.” 

Yet decades ago, Mike Wallace, reporting for 60 Minutes, discussed the risks of aspartame and brain cancer, the revolving door issues within the FDA and the realities of manipulated, industry-sponsored research, all of which fully warrant the removal of aspartame from the food supply. I have shown this video to my students for years, it is a prime example of the fundamental issues within the regulating agencies – which will be the subject of Part 2.

The author is a clinical nutritionist in St. Johnsbury.

Categories: Commentary

4 replies »

  1. It might be time to look into relationships between our FDA and certain Companies that make big money from being approved for use by the puplic. As it stands today, big money far outweighs lives!

  2. Thank you, Allison, for another well researched and logical analysis. I love reading your work.

  3. It’s about the cost of doing business, this is the shake down, the psyops that they use to fool the populace. Make a big show, get “millions” from the lawsuit and the companies make trillions, meanwhile the money goes to the re-election campaign….see we got millions.

    Meanwhile we wonder why cancer is prevalent, but the Amish haven’t gotten the word. Nor have they gotten covid, autism or heart disease, perhaps they should watch more tv and internet news articles?

    When I was in school for forestry, you had to have a special license to administer round up….suddenly they use it to dry the wheat we are eating?

    There is some major corruption going on and Vermont is complicit and being used like a cheap violin.

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