Biotechnology giant Monsanto is the company that no one knows about. Founded in 1901, the company initially produced food additives before expanding into industrial chemicals. During a growth phase, the company manufactured controversial products including DDT, Agent Orange, and others. Today, the biotech behemoth is a multinational corporation; they have divested much of their chemical business and focus primarily on biotechnology.
Unfortunately, some of the controversial decisions made by Monsanto in the past continue to cause problems today. For more than forty years, Monsanto was the sole producer of the chemical polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB). Production during that time period amounted to almost 1.25 billion pounds of the chemical.
According to the New York Times, “The chemicals were initially admired for their ability to prevent fires and explosions in electrical transformers and other equipment. But as the use of PCBs skyrocketed nationwide in products as varied as paints, pesticides and even carbonless copy paper, evidence mounted that they were contaminating the environment and potentially causing health problems including cancer and immune-system complications. The E.P.A. banned their production in 1979.”
The PCB ban halted production, but did nothing to address the incredible amount of the chemical that was such an essential part of our infrastructure for so long. Now, older structures, including sewer systems and school buildings, are struggling to comply with new directives aimed at reducing PCB levels in water and building materials; renovations to remove contaminated materials are costly, and expose workers and building occupants to hazardous conditions.
A better future? Not yet
Pending legislation in Congress designed to replace the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act contains language that specifically addresses the Monsanto PCB problem, but not in a way that protects anyone. Instead, the paragraph could help shield the company from legal liability for a toxic chemical that only it made.
Seattle is one of six cities currently suing Monsanto to help cover the costs of removing the toxic substance. City attorney Pete Holmes said, “Call me a dreamer, but I wish for a Congress that would help cities with their homeless crises instead of protecting multinational corporations that poison our environment.” A spokeswoman for Monsanto said the company had received no preferential treatment.
The bottom line? Big businesses spend a great deal of time and money to protect their interests. When those efforts extend to the Federal government, closer scrutiny is required. Our government is supposed to protect our citizens, not the financial interests of individual corporations.
At Crandall & Pera Law, we work to protect your rights. When you are hurt or become sick because of a business decision that values dollars over lives, we fight for you and your family. Our skilled attorneys in Ohio and Kentucky have years of experience fighting big business and their insurance companies, and will fight for you when you need us. Contact us today for a free consultation.