It's a bummer about that Roundup verdict. Not so much just for Bayer Chemical, which just spent $69 billion purchasing Monsanto. This may be a bummer for us all.
Let me be more specific. It turns out that Roundup is a killer. Monsanto was recently ordered to pay $289 million to Dewayne "Lee" Johnson, who claimed he became sick with non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using Roundup for more than two years as a groundskeeper for a school district outside San Francisco. A California jury concluded that Monsanto's Roundup and Ranger Pro products did present a "substantial danger" and jurors believed the company knew or should have known about the potential risks the products posed.
Most of us are carrying Roundup around in our bodies right now. In one study, glyphosate, which is in Roundup, ended up in the urine of a third of the members of the European Parliament who took the test. It is everywhere. As of this week, there are 8,000 people looking to sue Monsanto/Bayer Chemical. Writes one law firm soliciting business:
"Roundup is used by farmers, landscapers, gardeners and homeowners throughout the United States to control weeds. While it is marketed as safe and non-toxic, it is now apparent that Monsanto has withheld important safety information on the link between Roundup and Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, as well as other cancers."
The verdict-the first in what may be thousands of cases-sent shock waves through Bayer and erased $16 billion from the company's market value in a week," according to Bloomberg News. Now, I am not too sure how much Roundup is applied in the north country, but I am pretty sure it's probably more than my recommended daily allowance. I am very relieved that RDO is not going to add another 6,000 acres of Roundup and other chemicals to former forests of northern Minnesota, thanks to the work of local citizens like Mike Tauber and a group called Toxic Taters. I hate to be Debbie Downer, but I must point out that for 200 years, "progress" has been literally shoved down the throats of Native people. We've been told to move aside for progress, as if we are not as smart as the guys in the white coats at Bayer, Monsanto, Fukishima Nuclear Plant and elsewhere. I think that there have been many stupid ideas of progress- from nuclear power to DDT, to the Dalkon Shield, to the Ford Pinto with the exploding gas tank, and to Roundup. In fact, my former presidential running mate Ralph Nader started a Museum of Tort Law in Connecticut to honor this stupidity, and the legal case against it.
We are a somewhat intelligent bunch. I vote we make careful choices and admit wrong. And I vote we start fixing things, not making them worse. Frankly, I'm tired of being called an activist when I just want clean water. And I really can't figure out why a corporation that contaminates drinking water is not called a terrorist. Hollow Horn Bear, a Lakota prophet, told us a century ago that "Someday the earth will weep, she will beg for her life, she will cry with tears of blood. You will make a choice, if you will help her or let her die, and when she dies, you too will die." He was right. He did not have a university degree or a white jacket, but he understood this world. For me, I'm going to stick to a horse if I can over an ATV. And I am going to hang out with as many butterflies and frogs as possible, grow some hemp and cool corn varieties, all organic, and celebrate. That's because life and this world are beautiful, and I am going to work on keeping it this way. That's better than progress, it's minobimaatisiiwin, good life.
LaDuke is executive director, Honor the Earth, and an Ojibwe writer and economist on Minnesota’s White Earth Reservation