According to allegations in a trial expected to last the next three weeks, Monsanto’s negligence regarding PCBs caused several cases of lymphohematopoietic cancer. Though it has been four decades since the company made polychlorinated byphenyls (PCBs), plaintiffs from all over the U.S. have joined in the suit that was filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court.
PCBs were often included in products such as paint and food packaging. Monsanto was the main producer of PCBs in the U.S. before Congress banned them in the late 1970s.
We’ll need to step into the Wayback Machine to unravel this case. The original Monsanto Chemical Co. doesn’t exist anymore. It was spun off and purchased such that four separate companies are the named defendants.
Monsanto Chemical created Solutia in 1997 to handle all of its chemical business. Monsanto’s life sciences division merged with Pharmacia in 2000 and Pharmacia merged with Pfizer in 2003. Solutia underwent bankruptcy reorganization in 2008 and is now owned by Eastman Chemical Co. The current Monsanto, everyone’s favorite “love it or hate it” GMO giant, is handling the PCB cases on behalf of the other defendants.
Neither Eastman, nor Pfizer chose to comment on the suit. A Monsanto rep, Charla Lord, issued the standard statement that, while Monsanto is sympathetic to the plaintiffs, “we believe the allegations are without merit and the former Monsanto Company is not responsible for the alleged injuries.”
She went on to say that the original Monsanto sold PCBs to many companies for use in a large variety of products but that the chemical hasn’t been produced for close to forty years. “Monsanto today, and for more than a decade, has been focused solely on agriculture, but we share a name with a company that dates back to 1901,” she said.
Plaintiffs allege that Monsanto was negligent by producing and selling PCBs, a chemical that doesn’t easily degrade in the human body or in the environment. They further allege that Monsanto knew this, but continue making and selling the chemical.
According to the plaintiffs, “Such conduct was gross and flagrant and done with a reckless disregard for human life and for the safety of others.”
So, the company that brought us Agent Orange and Franken-food made a product that caused lymph, blood and bone cancer? I’m shocked! That the company may have done it knowingly is not hard to believe, given its typical disregard for anything that isn’t preceded by a dollar sign.