frogs_b

Although recent media attention has been centered on biotech multinational Monsanto’s aggression in silencing critics of its GMO crops, bovine growth hormone and pesticides, this has unfortunately resulted in other biotech companies being able to more quietly commit similar offenses.

When Tyrone Hayes, biologist and Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California Berkley, was hired to conduct research on the possible harmful effects of the herbicide atrazine for the Sweedish biotech multinational, Syngenta, what he did not expect was to be silenced and threatened when the results discovered were not conducive for business. Through his research Hayes discovered that atrazine had a negative effect as an endocrine disrupter causing developing male African clawed and leopard frogs to turn into females and develop eggs. Atrazine proved to completely reverse the development of the male reproductive organs. Later studies conducted by unrelated scientists proved that this same effect was also found in mammals.

Even though the initial results weren’t what Syngenta had hoped for, they paid Hayes to conduct further studies. When the results confirmed the initial findings, Syngenta attempted to prohibit Hayes from discussing or publishing his work. Hayes disregarded Syngenta’s requests and moved to publish his findings in high ranking scientific journals as well as to give lectures on the harmful effects of the widely used herbicide. After various instances of the company sending out representatives to Hayes’ lectures to publically refute his findings, Hayes realized things were taking a darker turn when he was directly threatened by an employee, Tim Pastoor, before a presentation “Your wife’s at home alone right now. How do you know I haven’t sent somebody there to take care of her? Isn’t your daughter there?”

After realizing the seriousness of the extent to which Syngenta would go to silence him, Hayes decided to turn to the institution he was working for, the University of California Berkley, for help. Unfortunately, as Syngenta was one of the highest contributing donors to the biology department at the time, the university lawyers turned a cold shoulder and insisted it was not their problem. Where Hayes should have been promptly protected by the university he was working for, he was abandoned to deal with the serious threats and slanders orchestrated by Syngenta entirely on his own.

In an interview with DemocracyNow! Hayes was asked about the way in which the university turned a blind eye, he stated that “there’s a lot of pressure on us not just to be scholars and to teach and to do research, but also to bring in funds that will support the university. So there’s some sentiment from the university that if you are raising a concern potentially that might cause the university to lose support to lose funders, then you won’t necessarily get the support on campus that you need.”

A class action lawsuit against Syngenta regarding water contamination later revealed internal documents confirming that Hayes was being directly stalked and targeted by the company. Since these findings, Hayes has regained his credibility and continues to spread awareness on the harmful effects of atrazine on the reproductive systems of amphibians and mammals.

Sources:

Hayes, T. (n.d.). Silencing the Scientist – Tyrone Hayes on Being Targeted by Herbicide Firm Syngenta. DemocracyNow!. Febuary 21, 2014.

 “Court-released documents: Exhibit 19, part1” (PDF). Source Watch. Center for Media and Democracy. Retrieved February 7, 2014.

Hayes TB, Collins A, Lee M et al. (April 2002). “Hermaphroditic, demasculinized frogs after exposure to the herbicide atrazine at low ecologically relevant doses”. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 99 (8): 5476-80.

 

Advertisements

Amid threats and lawsuits from the World Trade Organization, the United States, and monster bio-tech corporations, the E.U. continues to stand by its decision to reject the widespread use of GMs in the European food supply and to strictly label such foods. Many believe that the 2007 – 2008 European food crisis was largely driven by speculation and political manipulation as an attempt to force its citizens into the acceptance of GM food.

The E.U. believes that GM food and Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone (BGH) have not undergone sufficient scientific testing to be considered safe for human consumption. The bovine growth hormone is completely banned in Europe, with studies showing that while causing unnecessary suffering and health problems for animals, BGH has been linked to cancer, premature pubescence in girls, allergies and antibiotic resistance in humans.

In the United States the use of BGH was easily passed by the Federal Drug Administration with few studies, those of which were personally conducted by Monsanto, and has since become a daily part of the American food supply. However, Monsanto does not want to stop there – their eyes have been set on the European food supply for some time now. It has come to the point where E.U. officials have been directly threatened with retaliation by entities such as the World Trade Organization if they did not concede.

Europe has had a ban on the use and importation of growth promoting hormones and hormone-treated products since 1989, the ban was retaliated against by the WTO on the grounds that the E.U. was violating WTO agreements and constructing illegal barriers to trade because “BGH did not present enough of a threat to warrant a limit to its importation and usage.” In 1998, the WTO appeals board ended up ruling that the E.U.’s ban violated agreements as their assessment on BGH was not justifiable; the consequences were enormous – with a penalty of $116.8 million paid out to the US for financial losses of American cattle and dairy exports.

Despite the injustices, pressure and unfair penalties the E.U. has had to endure, it continues to fight against being threatened and manipulated by bio-tech giants such as Monsanto and the WTO. The E.U.’s latest victory occurred this past July with Monsanto scrapping plans to produce new of its GM crops on European soil citing that approval for GM cultivation could take years to obtain.

On March 11, 20111, a powerful earthquake occurred off the coast of Japan, coupled with a massive tsunami that followed, this triggered three meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The consequences have been tremendous – between the contamination of the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of lives being directly impacted by unusually high levels of radiation and the fact that this disaster is still very much ongoing. Nearly three years later one wonders, who were the companies involved that so irresponsibly accepted the construction this nuclear power plant at a in a highly vulnerable and dangerous location?  Although the Japanese government was responsible for the location chosen, General Electric, Hitachi and Toshiba were all involved in the design of the reactors and the subsequent construction of the plant.

In a world where ethical responsibility rarely surpasses corporate greed, it is not difficult to imagine why these corporations chose to turn a blind eye and move onwards with the project in a highly dangerous and unstable location. However, this ongoing disaster reaches far beyond an ethical infringement into what can be considered a monumental crime. Unfortunately, with laws such as the Nuclear Damage Liability Law which protects these corporations from accountability in the event of a nuclear disaster, it makes it very difficult to demand that they pull their weight to help rectify the situation.

The Japanese government and its citizens do not have the money or resources to resolve this increasingly severe situation on their own – over 32 billion Euros of taxpayer money has since been injected into TEPCO to help resolve the situation. When GE, Hitachi and Toshiba were asked to comment on their responsibility in the disaster, instead of assuming their central role in this situation, they merely pointed to the charitable work and disaster relief efforts they have donated. If current laws are not changed, these types of globally impacting tragedies will keep occurring, as former Hitachi engineer, Mitsuhiko Tanaka, stated to Greenpeace “when the stakes are raised to such a height, a company will not choose what is safe and legal. Even if it is dangerous they will choose to save the company from destruction”.

Image  —  Posted: February 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

Monsanto = Pure Evil

Image  —  Posted: July 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

Why Millennial Women Do Not Want To Lead

Very enlightening and well written article addressing the lack of women aspiring to be leaders in the ‘millennial’ generation. This article delves into why the media and our collective societal perception on what it ‘takes’ for a woman to lead are to blame.

“Moreover, the media convinces us that we exist for men to sexualize and desire us – we are not the subject of our own lives, but rather the object.”

 

 

Link  —  Posted: July 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

Truth.

Image  —  Posted: July 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

War. Who is it good for?

Image  —  Posted: July 6, 2012 in Uncategorized