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In Small WV Town, Monsanto Faces Class-Action Suit Over Agent Orange Chemical

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the don't-drink-the-water-don't-breathe-the-air dept.

Biotech 185

eldavojohn writes "Agricultural biotechnology company Monsanto is now at the receiving end of a lawsuit from representatives of anyone who lived in the small town of Nitro, WV from 1949 on. This suit alleges that Monsanto spread chemical toxins all over town — most notably the carcinogenic dioxins. The plant in question produced herbicide 2,4,5-T, which was used in Vietnam as an ingredient for 'Agent Orange.' [Note: link contains some disturbing images; click cautiously.] From the article: 'Originally the suit called for Monsanto to both monitor people's health and clean up polluted property. The court rejected the property claims last year, leaving just the medical monitoring.' Strange that the suit is only allowed to address the symptom and not the root cause."

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185 comments

What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (5, Funny)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902575)

Dihydrogen monoxide. They should really ban the stuff....

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38902593)

You're an idiot.

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (5, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902647)

You're an idiot.

To clarify, I don't think that the herbicide 2,4,5-T is safe, or not dangerous. The point is that calling it "an ingredient in Agent Orange" is designed for emotional rhetoric, not reasonable inquiry.

Forget that it was used in Agent Orange, which was an unhealthy mix of numerous toxic chemicals, and rather, focus on the specific effects of 2,4,5-T itself... like "the herbcide 2,4,5-T, which is a known carcinogen".

This avoids hype and emotional rhetoric, while at the same time educates the person about how the substance is dangerous in its own right, without resorting to mentioning that it was just one part of a large concoction of toxic chemicals. ... and now that I've explained my joke, it's no longer funny...

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902705)

ya but it doesn't get the headline attention that agent orange does.

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (2)

Garth Smith (1720052) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902835)

This plant specifically made chemicals for Agent Orange. Yes they made herbicides too but production was done here with the specific intent to make chemical weapons. (Hint: The town's name is NITRO.) This gives the reader an idea how bad these chemicals are. They are bad enough for warfare. Considering we are a nation at war, it is good to be reminded of the collateral damage that war brings back home.

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903075)

Yes they made herbicides too but production was done here with the specific intent to make chemical weapons.

Huh, WHAT?! The suit is only about a herbicide, and Agent Orange is AN HERBICIDE, was not intended as a chemical weapon.

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903531)

Incorrect; Agent Orange was a herbicide, and was used to defoliate forests in VietNam to make it harder for the Viet Cong to hide. Its danger wasn't known publicly then, and it's not a direct poison like "drop it from a plane and everybody dies."They used carpet bombing munitions, mortars, grenades, and M-16 rifles for that.

Dioxin, Agen Orange's effective ingredient, was used commercially in the US as a herbicide for decades until its danger became known and it was banned.

The Agent Orange was dropped on our own soldiers as well as the Vietnamese. I used to know several combat veterans from that war who died in their 30s from cancers that chemical caused.

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (5, Informative)

anotheryak (1823894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903553)

Huh?

First of all, Agent Orange was not a chemical weapon. It was a nasty chemical and it injured my father-in-law and his children--my wife included--but that was collateral damage from what was intended as a defoliant. It was intended to clear tree cover and/or destroy food crops (though that was more Blue than Orange).

The really nasty chemical in Agent Orange was actually a contaminant; ,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. It was not supposed to be there at all.

Agent Orange was supposed to be a 50:50 mixture of (2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxy)acetic acid and (2,4-dichlorophenoxy)acetic acid.

I agree with snowgirl, the article title was for emotional impact. It's like saying "KNOWN CHEMOTHERAPY INGREDIENT "NORMAL SALINE" FOUND DUMPED NEAR SCHOOL!"

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (1)

anotheryak (1823894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903635)

Also what does the name "NITRO" have to do with this in anyway? The original plant was set up to make nitrocellulose, also known as gun cotton. What does that have to do with chemical weapons, Agent Orange, or herbicides?

Nitrocellulose was gun powder. It was also used to make cue balls, movie film, and wood coatings.

So what? Aside from being very flammable, it's not even that dangerous, nor is it an explosive...

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (5, Informative)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902871)

In defense of the article: Agent Orange was a 50:50 mix of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D.

In your defense: 2,4,5-T is only moderately toxic, as long as it is not contaminated with TCDD.

It was legal in the U.S. to use it on crops until 1970. Even the 1970 ban had an exception: It could be used on rice crops.

In 1985, it was finally completely outlawed.

Basically, the lawsuit is saying that even though Monsanto had the right to make the chemical, sell the chemical, and use the chemical until 1970, the damage done to the land is bad enough that they should be sued anyway.

I think that the sentence should require the current Monsanto CEO to purchase a ticket to use a time machine, and go back and tell the previous CEO not to pursue 2,4,5-T.

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38903293)

They used the land, they made a product there, they made a profit. Now the people who lived or worked there suffer and die and your "legal thinking" precludes redress?

The money went into the coffers of Monsoto the death and misery should be absorbed by someone else?

I not talking negligence or guilt I just think economic crimes like this one always deserve swift and clean restitution.

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (2)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904193)

They used the land, they made a product there, they made a profit.

Actually, if you read the lawsuit, you'll find that this isn't true. Part of "Old Monsanto" used the land, made a product there, and made a profit. That part of Old Monsanto split off as Solutia, and continued to make products under that name for 6 years, and eventually filed Chapter 11.

The agricultural part of "Old Monsanto" never used the land, and never made a profit off of Agent Orange. It is currently called Monsanto, and is actually unconnected to all this. They are the ones being sued.

Now the people who lived or worked there suffer and die and your "legal thinking" precludes redress?

Wrong again. The class action lawsuit identifies 9 families who are affected. Added together, there are 9 counts of "property damage" and 9 requests for "medical monitoring". This means that no one has gotten sick. No one is suffering adverse effects. No one has died. But, their property has probably lost value, due to its location. The chemical plant closing probably hurt their value as much the chemicals.

The money went into the coffers of Monsoto the death and misery should be absorbed by someone else?

I not talking negligence or guilt I just think economic crimes like this one always deserve swift and clean restitution.

I can understand frustration and anger. This land was probably perfectly fine for living on with the minimal amount of chemical pollutants, but it will be impossible to sell (partially because of the EPA, and partially because of fears of buyers). It makes sense that the people who decided to start the chemical plant could be sued, but most of those people are retired, if not dead today. The company they worked for has already been sued out of existence. So, now they're pulling at straws, trying to find someone else with money to pay for the damages.

TBH, I understand why the lawsuit was filed. It's frustrating to see your property lose value for reasons outside your control (just ask all the property owners of Wetlands, who lost all value when FEMA declared them unusable). If your property suddenly loses value, it makes sense to sue anyone you can think of that has money (it's how our lawyer-driven society operates). Unfortunately, I don't see any easy answers here. I don't see this lawsuit going anywhere (for reasons mentioned above).

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904215)

"The money went into the coffers of Monsoto the death and misery should be absorbed by someone else?"

Of course. It's Monsanto. Monsanto does not absorb anything other than profits.

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (3, Informative)

thrich81 (1357561) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902895)

A quick check on Wikipedia shows that 2,4,5-T made up about 50% of Agent Orange (the other 50% was another herbicide), and 2,4,5-T is considered the more hazardous of the two, so in this case the reference as a component of Agent Orange seems quite legitimate and so is linking the emotional connotations of Agent Orange to the compound in question.

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (2)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903417)

A quick check on Wikipedia shows that 2,4,5-T made up about 50% of Agent Orange (the other 50% was another herbicide), and 2,4,5-T is considered the more hazardous of the two, so in this case the reference as a component of Agent Orange seems quite legitimate and so is linking the emotional connotations of Agent Orange to the compound in question.

But the article doesn't EXPLAIN any of this. That's the issue I had with the article. It doesn't explain why it's harmful on its own, and just relies upon "it's a part of Agent Orange" to establish that it is harmful. Well, big fucking whoop. I want to know why the chemical itself is harmful, you know, like if it were any other chemical in the world, the press about the chemical would be explaining just why the chemical is toxic, and why it's dangerous. Instead, this article sees a shortcut, and just jumps on it: "It's a part of Agent Orange!"

So You're a COMPLETE Idiot? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38902899)

Okay you're really an idiot. It is one of the two active ingredients [va.gov] in agent orange. Jesus fucking christ people are stupid ... it is half of agent orange ... you don't even produce evidence that water is one of the ingredients of agent orange, you just speculate to make your joke. And you call this fucking hype? Seriously?

Re:So You're a COMPLETE Idiot? (0)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903255)

He learned it by watching a show called "bullshit", made by two magicians. They also showed how cigarette smoke is harmless, and global climate change is a "hoax".

Re:So You're a COMPLETE Idiot? (5, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903387)

Okay you're really an idiot. It is one of the two active ingredients [va.gov] in agent orange. Jesus fucking christ people are stupid ... it is half of agent orange ... you don't even produce evidence that water is one of the ingredients of agent orange, you just speculate to make your joke. And you call this fucking hype? Seriously?

Nothing I said was about the content of their argument, but rather just the presentation of the argument. The article explains NOTHING about how dangerous 2,3,4-T is, and simply replies upon "it's a part of Agent Orange" to assert the harmfulness of the chemical.

If the article had included any of what you included as information (that it's one of two chemicals in Agent Orange, and that it breaks down into TCDD which is crazy harmful when heated) then there would have been no issue at all with the article.

This is not a substance argument, it is a FORM argument, and thus attacking me with "but it really is dangerous!" is completely beside the point, because that's not what I was arguing. I knew 2,3,4-T was harmful, the point was that the article doesn't establish WHY it is harmful in its own right.

Re:So You're a COMPLETE Idiot? (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903841)

This is not a substance argument, it is a FORM argument, and thus attacking me with "but it really is dangerous!" is completely beside the point, because that's not what I was arguing. I knew 2,3,4-T was harmful, the point was that the article doesn't establish WHY it is harmful in its own right.

I don't disagree with you, but going into that level of chemistry is probably going to make even NPR listeners/readers glaze over. Using the AO shortcut might not be the best way to present the argument from a scientific point, but since they're presenting to a popular audience I don't personally have a huge issue with it.

Re:So You're a COMPLETE Idiot? (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904035)

I don't disagree with you, but going into that level of chemistry is probably going to make even NPR listeners/readers glaze over. Using the AO shortcut might not be the best way to present the argument from a scientific point, but since they're presenting to a popular audience I don't personally have a huge issue with it.

It would cause their listeners/readers to glaze over to say "2,4,5-T is one of the two herbicides in Agent Orange, and the one that breaks down into the extremely toxic dioxins that made Agent Orange so much more harmful than it was original designed to be"?

I have heard some people say that NPR listeners/readers are retarded idiots, but that would have to take the cake. I mean, we're not talking about explaining complicated chemistry here, we're talking "there are two active chemical ingredients" and "when heated chemical A turns into chemical B, which is even more toxic". That's the kind of chemistry that anyone can actually understand.

And even then, it works out to be one sentence of content in an entire article. I've heard deeper explanations for how infectious beetles kill trees on NPR...

Re:So You're a COMPLETE Idiot? (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904003)

It's harmful because it causes some of the same problems that Agent Orange caused?

Re:So You're a COMPLETE Idiot? (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904101)

It's harmful because it causes some of the same problems that Agent Orange caused?

Exactly, and the TCDD that 2,4,5-T turns into under heat was responsible for Agent Orange being so dangerously toxic (as opposed to "reasonably" toxic). But there is no explanation that an all but ubiquitous 2,4,5-T contaminant was the principle chemical for why Agent Orange was so dangerous.

Just explaining that it was the principle cause of why Agent Orange was so toxic would have been better than the simple and uninformative, "it's a part of Agent Orange".

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38902911)

But 2,4,5-T is one of only two active ingredients. Dihydrogen monoxide is not an active ingredient. Both active ingredients, on their own, are harmful. The entire suit is about ingredients being manufactured specifically for use in Agent Orange. It is perfectly reasonable, and contextually accurate, to refer to it as an Agent Orange Chemical. In fact, to leave out that fact would be somewhat misleading, since the actions that spawned the lawsuit had little to do with herbicides, and lots to do with chemical warfare.

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (2)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903351)

But 2,4,5-T is one of only two active ingredients.

Which the article never says.

Dihydrogen monoxide is not an active ingredient.

Not the point that it's an inactive ingredient. The article never explained by 2,3,4-T alone is dangerous.

Both active ingredients, on their own, are harmful.

I already noted that, but "harmful" is a gradient. Things can be more harmful than others. There is no explanation in the article about why 2,3,4-T is so harmful on its own. It's just "it's a chemical in Agent Orange!"

The entire suit is about ingredients being manufactured specifically for use in Agent Orange. It is perfectly reasonable, and contextually accurate, to refer to it as an Agent Orange Chemical.

I agree, it's totally poignant to mention that it was one of the two active ingredients in Agent Orange, and that when it breaks down under heat it turns into TCDD, which is many times more toxic than either of the two intentional active ingredients. ... But the article didn't explain any of this. It just says "It's a chemical from Agent Orange!" Which is just emotional rhetoric.

As I've already explained in the comment you replied to: my issue is not with their argument being counterfactual, but rather that the presentation is uninformative, and meaningless rhetoric.

In fact, to leave out that fact would be somewhat misleading, since the actions that spawned the lawsuit had little to do with herbicides, and lots to do with chemical warfare.

Agent Orange was not chemical warfare. It was a defoliant, which we even occasionally sprayed it on our own troops, because we didn't expect it to be as dangerous as it turns out it was. If Agent Orange were a chemical weapon, then we would not have ever used it where it could expose our troops to harm.

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (2)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902933)

Not only that, but 2,4,5-T is only moderately toxic and is not a dioxin. The greater problem is that it often is contaminated with the dioxin TCDD, which is highly toxic. TCDD is thought to be responsible for most of the ill effects of Agent Orange.

While mentioning Agent Orange here is a certainly an emotional appeal, it's not entirely inappropriate. Agent Orange was a mixture of two herbicides, used as an herbicide. It caused health problems in people. Here, one of the two herbicides that made up Agent Orange is being used as an herbicide. It's the one that was, more or less, responsible for Agent Orange's health problems. The lawsuit is about health problems as a result of the use of this chemical. The comparison to Agent Orange is apt.

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (2)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903215)

While mentioning Agent Orange here is a certainly an emotional appeal, it's not entirely inappropriate. Agent Orange was a mixture of two herbicides, used as an herbicide. It caused health problems in people. Here, one of the two herbicides that made up Agent Orange is being used as an herbicide. It's the one that was, more or less, responsible for Agent Orange's health problems. The lawsuit is about health problems as a result of the use of this chemical. The comparison to Agent Orange is apt.

After reading a bit, it would be reasonable to say "2,3,4-T is one of the two herbicides of Agent Orange, and that when heated it can produce TCDD, which is extremely toxic." However, no one actually says that they, just kind of say the vague "it's a chemical in Agent Orange!" Which again, gives no background or information about how dangerous it is in its own right.

Nothing about my statement required 2,3,4-T to be safe and inert or even anything less than the most dangerous chemical of Agent Orange. Rather, I was simply noting that saying "it was a part of Agent Orange!" is done for rhetorical effect, and devoid of any meaningful information.

If I have to pull up Wikipedia, and read about it in order to have any idea of how toxic it is, why it's usually even more toxic than the chemical all by itself, the article isn't providing any useful information about why I should care about 2,3,4-T, beyond rhetoric, and that's simply unconvincing to any skeptical person. All it takes is a sentence to explain why 2,3,4-T is so bad, (and then a parenthetical aside as to why that made Agent Orange so bad).

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38903307)

So let me get this straight ... you are demanding that in the summary we are supposed to break everything down to it's basic cause and effect explanation? We get away with summarizing about computer viruses without having to explain why they're called viruses every time or even what a 'bit' is. Yet you criticize calling this chemical a part of Agent Orange (which is factually correct) because we didn't get into the chemical implications with heating it up -- which is where, in your "expert" opinion, the real danger lies? It's either this or you're attempting to run the Tour de France backward.

We should really write NPR to stop with the rhetorical "it was part of Agent Orange!" because saying that it was a herbicide used in Agent Orange is wrong. In fact, we should correct the title to say "2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) which contained traces of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD)" instead of "Agent Orange Chemical." Is that what you're suggesting? I mean, we wouldn't want to spread hype and emotional rhetoric!

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (2)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903503)

Gr... NO! That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that if this were an article about ANY OTHER CHEMICAL, there would be a short sentence IN THE ARTICLE (which I've already read... SCARY ME! I RTFA'ed) explaining why the chemical is harmful and why it is harmful. This article short-circuits all of that with: "it's a part of Agent Orange!"

Of course herbicides are toxic, they're kind of designed to be. But just how toxic is it? What makes it such a big deal? Why is it that this chemical made Agent Orange so toxic in the first place?

We're not all fucking chemical experts who understand and know everything about Agent Orange before we even read the article. Give us BACKGROUND, give us EXPLANATIONS. It takes one god-damn sentence out of an entire article to explain this shit to someone who has never actually learned anything about Agent Orange beyond "it was used in Vietnam to defoliate, and ended up causing serious harm to our soldiers."

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904089)

Doesn't that give enough info for a summary though? The average reader knows it was harmful - caused cancer. Most people don't know a whole lot about chemistry or Agent Orange. So by linking it to Agent Orange (and its a good link not a bogus link) people understand that its dangerous and can go look up if they want details.

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (2)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904141)

Doesn't that give enough info for a summary though? The average reader knows it was harmful - caused cancer. Most people don't know a whole lot about chemistry or Agent Orange. So by linking it to Agent Orange (and its a good link not a bogus link) people understand that its dangerous and can go look up if they want details.

But just because it was "a part of Agent Orange" does not mean that it was the reason why Agent Orange was so toxic in the first place. Water is "a part of Agent Orange", and thus my satirical comment that kicked off this thread. The fact that Agent Orange was so toxic and dangerous does not mean that each and every individual part of Agent Orange were harmful.

Explaining that it is the principle reason WHY Agent Orange was so toxic, would have been far better, and would have just been a few more words additional, rather than even the whole sentence that I've called for earlier.

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903645)

We should really write NPR to stop with the rhetorical "it was part of Agent Orange!"

Yes. It's the same as If they wrote an article on petroleum and headlined it by saying it was an ingredient in napalm that was used in Vietnam.

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (1)

Troyusrex (2446430) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903265)

According to Wikipedia TCDD is of questionable toxicity even at "huge doses". So if it's the most toxic thing in the mix this lawsuit is bunk. "Unequivocal evidence of the toxic effects on dioxins on human beings have been shown by surprisingly few studies. The best proven is chloracne.[1] Even in poisonings with huge doses of TCDD, the only persistent effects after the initial malaise have been chloracne and amenorrhea."

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (1)

muser8 (201526) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903431)

I'm pretty sure snow girl isn't pro cancer... IMO the point being made is that use of inflammatory rhetorical devices such as 'Agent Orange" are, in fact, counter productive: a certain portion of the audience immediate tunes out instead of actually reading the article. In fact, those predisposed to be influenced by the rhetorical device used would have most likely read the article in the first place: Monsanto Spreads Known Carcinogen on Town is effective all my its self. What you have after this are two polarized side ready to fight... a real shame when there is something that needs to be addressed.

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38902619)

On multiple occasions, I've experience uncontrollable caughing after breathing DiHydrogen Monoxide...

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (1)

jamiesan (715069) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902679)

On multiple occasions, I've experience uncontrollable laughing after breathing DiNitrogen Monoxide

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38902715)

On multiple occasions, I've died of smugness after mentioning Dihydrogen Monoxide.

Sincerely,

The average Slashdotter

Re:What else ..? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38902773)

Another fine british company which is poisoning America's soil. Go Tea Party, Go Patriots, Go NeoCons, Go Royal loot and pillage the land the natives are feeble minded.

Re:What else ..? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38902909)

Monsanto is American - started in St. Louis, MO in 1901.

Re:What else ..? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38903285)

Founded in America yet controlled by the british.{Like President Bush)

Soon we will figure out a way to charge for the air people breathe.
http://wesmantoddshaw.hubpages.com/hub/Monsanto-The-Most-Evil-Corporation-In-The-World

What we http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1fHxPY3TJo

Re:What else was an ingredient in Agent Orange? (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903689)

No! You can't ban dihydrogen monoxide! I'm addicted to the stuff so badly that withdrawal would certainly be fatal!

You know what ? (4, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902625)

Those fucks recently applied to whatever regulatory agency that regulates those stuff in the u.s., to permit usage of base elements used in agent orange, for agricultural pesticide applications again.......... it seems superbugs adapting to afflict their genetically modified corps have come too much for them. (was in slashdot news recently too)

Re:You know what ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38902659)

their genetically modified corps

Too bad you weren't just slightly more off with your typo, or it would have made a good Freudian slip.

Re:You know what ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38902775)

I imagine the regulatory body you're referring to is the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) although I suppose it *could* be the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) but I feel like it's probably the FDA.

Having said that, your argument seems a bit biased. The information available suggests it was the other compound of Agent Orange (2,4,5-T) was responsible for the horror of the chemical - the one they want to try again is 2,4-D. Even then, military strength chemicals tend to be that - military strength. When's the last time you bought a thing of C4 (keep in mind, plenty of consumer goods can explode) at a supply store? I can respect that many people aren't comfortable with GMO's, but try to be a little more rational in your arguments. Some of these crops help fight world hunger you know - it shouldn't be simply cast aside as some conspiracy of big industry.

Besides, it's not like an organism building resistance is new. We've done it as a species, antibiotic-resistant diseases are another hot topic right now... That's the thing about evolution - it's not always to our benefit. Doesn't mean you scrap a method of dealing with something. Particularly - you're railing so much against genetically modified crops but that same gene-splicing allows to use FAR less chemicals to deal with pests than we once had to. We can either play Frankenstein or drown our crop sorrows in chemicals (which doesn't help with the drought resistance or anything) - I'd rather toy with DNA myself.

Seriously, I will never understand what some people have against GMOs. Don't want them? Go organic.

Re:You know what ? (1)

WilyCoder (736280) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902863)

"Seriously, I will never understand what some people have against GMOs. Don't want them? Go organic"

'GMO' and 'organic' are not two mutually exclusive categories of food.

Re:You know what ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38903769)

The problem is that the GMO plants are spreading by seeds and actually taking out the organic, orignal, natural seeds.

Monsanto is suing organic farmers because they can find some of the gmo plants on their fields.

So GMO and organic are mutually exclusive in a practical sense.

Re:You know what ? (0)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904223)

Monsanto is suing organic farmers because they can find some of the gmo plants on their fields.

Monsanto has not sued anyone who has not intentionally exploited GMO genetic material in their plants. The primary example was a guy who was growing something, and when he suspected that some GMO round-up resistance had pollinated his crop, HE SPRAYED THE WHOLE CROP with RoundUp, and low and behold, only the GMO contaminant survived, which he then used to plant his next crop.

Monsanto does not sue farmers who have incidental cross-pollination.

Re:You know what ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38903221)

They want to use the base elements of Agent Orange in pesticides? So that would be Carbon, and Hydrogen, and Oxygen, and *gasp* Chlorine? Holy shit! My body is full of those elements! Quick, someone throw me in a nuclear reactor. It's the only way to be sure they are destroyed.

Re:You know what ? (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903473)

While normally I might take issue with the rhetorical usage of "base elements use in agent orange" as hyperbole meant to generate an emotional response against chemicals which are, by themselves, not nearly as dangerous as Agent Orange itself (albeit still moderately toxic), in this case I will make an exception, because FUCK MONSANTO.

Evil filthy scumbag bastards who sue farmers after the cross-pollination from Monsanto corn caused their patented genes to show up in the farmers crops. Yes, they will sue a farmer because of an act of nature. If the devil founded a company, it would probably look something like Monsanto.

Re:You know what ? (0)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904265)

Evil filthy scumbag bastards who sue farmers after the cross-pollination from Monsanto corn caused their patented genes to show up in the farmers crops. Yes, they will sue a farmer because of an act of nature. If the devil founded a company, it would probably look something like Monsanto.

Yeah, fuck Monsanto for suing a farmer for spraying his whole crop with RoundUp after a cross-pollination incident, which resulted in only the RoundUp resistant cross-pollinated stock surviving... That farmer was just practicing selective breeding, right?! Right?!

Monsanto has not sued any farmer for unintentional cross-pollination that they have not unreasonably exploited.

If we would just allow free market (3, Interesting)

Are You Kidding (1734126) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902673)

to function without interference, we would not have such problems. Right? Maybe Ron Paul, or one of his disciples will explain how that works in a case like this.

Re:If we would just allow free market (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38902793)

From what I understand, Ron Paul believes that any laws passed by the congress by the people, for the people, should be enforced. He has never stated that any laws that the public deems necessary should go unenforced in the name of the free market. The kind of rhetoric you blindly parrot is what's damaging our nation, not people like Ron Paul. If you honestly believe that Ron Paul is on the same side of the equation as Monsanto, you've been horribly misled and should probably take a break from CNN and Fox News for a while to detox.

Re:If we would just allow free market (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38903069)

Rhetoric? You're hallucinating. Try reading the OP again. It's a simple question. Your defensive posture indicates you aren't 100% comfortable with your own position -- you have self doubt. Like a paranoid alcoholic, you everyone is out to get you.

Re:If we would just allow free market (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38903133)

The only problem is that in a Ron Paul world there would be no EPA and there would be no laws against pollution.

Re:If we would just allow free market (2)

Vaphell (1489021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903775)

and the problem with state level EPAs is what exactly? If I am not mistaken many states have their own regulations that are stricter than the federal ones.

RP is pretty much the only guy who plays by the rules written in the constitution. Everybody else bends it to suit his needs because after all it's for the greater good and it's the right thing to do. It's not. Well intentioned ends don't justify the means of wiping the ass with the constitution.
If you want federal level EPA, amend the fucking law of the land to be crystal clear and be done with it. Same thing with education, healthcare and whatnot. Don't hide your ass behind the ambiguous general welfare and commerce clauses.

Re:If we would just allow free market (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904275)

Because clearly pollutants are polite enough to stop at state lines.

Fuckwit.

Re:If we would just allow free market (0)

thelexx (237096) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902801)

Seems like it's functioning perfectly. Company screwed up and people are seeking redress through the legal system. What is your point besides being a snarky fuckface?

Re:If we would just allow free market (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902915)

No, the directors screwed up, and they will not be punished. (The whole point of incorporating) Punishing an abstract corporation does nothing except become part of the cost of doing business. You're right about one thing, the system is working perfectly.

Re:If we would just allow free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38903011)

We should send corporations to some form of jail like regular people. Shutting down the business for a few years would make management think twice.

Re:If we would just allow free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38903085)

No it's not, stupid. If it were functioning perfectly, then the company wouldn't have screwed up in the first place.

Re:If we would just allow free market (1)

ZFox (860519) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903401)

So your goal is to prevent people from screwing up? And you call the GP stupid???

Re:If we would just allow free market (1)

jahudabudy (714731) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903805)

Company screwed up for the last 60 years. And are now (possibly) being taken to task for the last round of victims - I see nothing that will punish the company for the previous generations of people killed by their negligence (at best - at worst, malicious indifference). I'd hardly call that "functioning perfectly".

Re:If we would just allow free market (5, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902807)

Well it's quite simple, if Monsanto releases dangerous chemicals over a town, the residents will boycott the Monsanto chemicals they were never buying, and when news of this boycott gets to the megacorps using these chemicals, they will stop using them and the shareholders will absorb the higher operating costs out of the goodness of their hearts, then Monsanto will go out of business.

Re:If we would just allow free market (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38902887)

Idiot, that is not what Ron Paul says. Ron Paul wants limited government not NO government. Unfortunately you are too stupid to know the difference so there's no point in explaining it.

Re:If we would just allow free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38902913)

to function without interference, we would not have such problems. Right? Maybe Ron Paul, or one of his disciples will explain how that works in a case like this.

If you are damaged by the actions of another, you take them to court. It's pretty simple. That is what is happening in this case. The problem is when government interferes in the process and passes laws to limit damages or make companies immune to lawsuits.

Re:If we would just allow free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38904189)

So, you're content with a reactive approach when it comes to companies poisoning people for profit?

Re:If we would just allow free market (4, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903107)

Free Market includes Courts to address grievances exactly like this. In a Free Market, a company such as Monsanto would and could be sued in perpetuity for hazards it created either intentionally or unintentionally. If bad enough, the entire company could be liquidated to pay for damages, leaving shareholders nothing. Additionally, in MY version of the free market, the CEO (all of them) and anyone sitting on the Board of Directors would be criminally liable for any criminal activity condoned or sanctioned by them.

In this case, if found guilty, Monsanto would be forced to pay for cleanup, health monitoring and medical bills of all people damaged by their product or the process used to create that product.

Free market works if the right application is applied. Don't blame the free market when we have no such thing to blame. There is no "free market", because we have government involved in too many places telling businesses how to do business.

Re:If we would just allow free market (4, Insightful)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903581)

You can't have it both ways.

Courts are by definition a part of the government. And courts are supposed base their decision on law, not Solomon-esque declarations of wisdom off the cuff.

You argue that the courts are a required part of the free market.

You then say that free markets don't currently function properly because there's too much government involved in the process.

Your argument is absolutely contradictory to itself.

Aside from this, it also ignores the fact that the folks with the money can always influence decision makers, including the justices or judges of a court. So, no, in your case, the little guys suing the big guy would be even more screwed.

Finally, arguments like this always ignore the fact that power abhors a vacuum. Government may be in some ways fundamentally evil, but it is the bulwark that our societies build against even more evil (private and unaccountable) entities filling that niche. Taking government away will not stop power from being exercised; all it will do is ensure that the people of the land have no protections against that power.

Re:If we would just allow free market (0)

Vaphell (1489021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904043)

it is not contradictory.

baseline is 'you have a right to protect yourself and your property' and courts follow that
upgrade that with government intervention to 'you have a right to protect yourself and your property.... unless arbitrary thresholds set by a government agency say otherwise' and courts follow that, dismissing some cases.
upgrade that even more and suddenly you are in China with 'you have no rights at all because some bureaucrat feels like it' and judges outright laugh you out of court.

also do you really believe that any of these government agencies setting the rules, like FDA or EPA, manned by the industry insiders, really protects your peasant interests? They are giving absolution to corporations as long as the stink is not big enough to get to the national TV stations.

Re:If we would just allow free market (2)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904253)

Let's say I'm a factory owner. I make widgets. My factory dumps poison into the sky and into the water. After all, it's my air and water, too, right? And it's next to my factory. If you stop me from dumping the waste, you are imposing on my property rights; you are decreasing the value of my factory. If I change this, I will have to cut back payment of my workers, thus impacting their property rights.

Now, let us switch positions. Let's say that I'm the guy who lives downwind and downstream. The factory has destroyed my farm. My kids are sickly. You are imposing on my property rights (my farm), and also, upon other inalienable rights (I don't own my kids, but the factory has absolutely done them permanent harm).

In order to protect your property rights, the factory would need to be left to continue to operate as it is. In order to protect mine, it needs to clean up after itself.

This is why we need set laws and limits. This is why we need to be able to say, here is the law that determines how much person A's rights are allowed to impose on person B's.

Furthermore, having laws that determine where your rights end and mine start allow me to prevent you from doing harm before hand. If I have to wait until my children have birth defects and my land and health are ruined, it is really too late. You cannot make up for that with money or property.

Finally, yes, let us look at China. They've poisoned their air, their water and their land. Yes, they have a massive concentration of power in their government, which is one and the same with their private enterprise for the most part (though, this is changing to some extent). However, here's the bit you're still missing: power will be exercised no matter what.

In China, there are no controls on power. Our government is in many ways designed to be a control on power - on it's own, on private power. If you remove those controls, then you have no justice. But you won't make the exercise of power go away. Corporations will continue to exercise power, and there will be no way to mitigate the results. And so, to return back to our original example of a factory and a river, the factory will continue to dump its poisons; the factory owner would be the sole exerciser of power, and the folks downstream could do nothing enforceable about it. It would be just like China, but it would be a corporation instead of a government exercising power.

In closing, you will never stop the exercise of power. All you can do is ensure that you chose the lesser of evils, that there is no single, overbearing concentration of power, and that power is structured so that it cannot act in its own interests without at least some benefit to the people. It is naive and dangerous to think that removing government will stop the wielding of power in harmful ways; quite the opposite.

Re:If we would just allow free market (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903665)

What good is a court to address grievances when your kids were already born deformed, you've been burned by the agent, and your crops have all failed due to some careless disposal of toxic chemicals? Will you have the money to pay for the court fees before judgment is handed down? Will your kids ever be supported enough by the company to make up for the fact that they were born fully disabled and in permanent pain? If the company is liquidated, who pays for the medicals bills?

Libertarians never think these things through. To them, a check in the mail is the most that they see necessary to right a wrong. Somehow, I'm convinced that behind every hardcore libertarian is a white male who hasn't had a debilitating accident happen to them, or hasn't gotten shafted hard by someone more powerful than them.

Re:If we would just allow free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38903955)

Monsanto would be forced to pay for cleanup, health monitoring and medical bills of all people damaged by their product or the process used to create that product

And who would enforce this? That's right, some evil, interfering government agency.

Re:If we would just allow free market (1)

Sentrion (964745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904259)

I thought the courts were bad for the free market since left wing radical activist judges were legislating from the bench.

Re:If we would just allow free market (3, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904295)

Out here in the real world the rich can afford better lawyers than we can; y'know, /free market/.

Re:If we would just allow free market (1)

Rhacman (1528815) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903227)

I was doing a little reading about the history of asbestos use and I've found that a common response to that seems to be one of three things:
1) A cherry picked example of why the material isn't really that harmful after all.
2) A selectively framed explaination of how much worse off we would be overall if said material were not so economically produced and readily available.
3) Stating that regulations don't work and that therefore we should never even try to regulate anything.

Can't touch this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38902685)

Monsanto is like Microsoft, you don't touch it.

WV?? (0)

Paul Slocum (598127) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902745)

I don't think "WV" is a commonly known abbreviation for West Virginia.

Re:WV?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38902859)

Ummmm. The USPS thinks it is: http://goo.gl/o6wKI

Re:WV?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38902897)

I don't think

No, apparently not. Stupid fuck.

Re:WV?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38902961)

Fairly standard [wikipedia.org] . I would think that people in the US are at least mildly familiar with the postal abbreviations.

Re:WV?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38903407)

I thought it was VolksWagen... in reverse.

war museums in Viet Nam are incredibly depressing (3, Insightful)

commodore73 (967172) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902777)

As an American, I don't think we can ever repay our debt to Viet Nam. They're still dealing with the toxins and other leftovers now (especially the children), and they can't sue anyone. The things that are done in the name of our country, our ethnic heritage, our historic religion, our "democracy", our capitalism...sometimes it's hard to live with ourselves.

Re:war museums in Viet Nam are incredibly depressi (2, Insightful)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903051)

As an American, I don't think we can ever repay our debt to Viet Nam.

No, you can't. However, you can come close by using the same chemicals in your country, so at least you can share the pain.

Re:war museums in Viet Nam are incredibly depressi (1)

commodore73 (967172) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903201)

I really don't see how that's in anyone's best interest (I would prefer wholesale population reduction without deformities and pain), but I respect your right to an opinion. I personally think that something like that episode of the original star trek where drafted people walk into a room of death and call that a war is probably one of the best solutions.

Re:war museums in Viet Nam are incredibly depressi (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904011)

If you saw the episode, then you'd remember that such a "war room" approach was shown to be more evil than "real" war, because it killed, but hid the killing, but didn't stop it. And death is death. Sanitizing and hiding it is a far cry from ending it.

And if you think about it, from the American point of view, we have in large hidden it away. When Bush took us to war against Iraq, the press was embedded - a control mechanism to ensure that there wasn't a repeat of the media footage of Vietnam. There was no showing of the dead returning, let alone the dead and mutilated over there. We were told to shop, not to share in the pain of war. It was sanitized... right up to the point where you looked into what was actually happening, or listened to the returning Vets.

I'd also note that war, hate, fear - it's all cyclical. Your father's father's father stole my great grandpappy's land; your ancestors took my ancestor's holy city; your ancestors brought this plague upon mine. It goes on and on. Hiding it doesn't end it; it just propagates it further and in an interest bearing manner that someday will absolutely come due.

I grew up across the river from there (2)

Xian97 (714198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902973)

in Saint Albans. That entire Charleston area is full of chemical plants - the nickname for the area is the Chemical Valley. Dow, Dupont, FMC, Bayer, Rhone Poluenc, and many others to name some present and past companies that have been there. The biggest was Union Carbide with several locations - the Institute plant was where MIC was produced in the US, the gas involved in the Bhopal tragedy.

I knew a lot of people that had or developed cancer that lived in the area and I remember seeing a study showing the rate was noticeably higher than the national norm.

I grew up in Nitro (4, Informative)

Bryan_Casto (68979) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903595)

The sad part is that this is barely news in WV. Oh, there have been numerous lawsuits over the years challenging each of the companies mentioned above for various abuses, often with commercials and mailers asking you to contact Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe, attorneys at law or some such nonsense. I moved away six years ago and I still get mailers today for class-action suits from my time there.

I played baseball at the parks across Viscose Road from the industrial park mentioned in the story. My mom worked in Nitro along that same road where there was an EPA Superfund cleanup site for Fike Chemical. They found all kinds of junk there, including hydrogen cyanide and methanethiol. There was also a tremendous tire warehouse fire about five years ago near the industrial park mentioned in the story. The story goes on and on, and has ever since the nitrocellulose plant was built in 1917 for World War I.

It's unfortunate, but coal and chemicals (and medical services for those dealing with coal and chemicals) are the only kind of work that is generally available in that area. It provided a good living for the time, but left a pretty awful legacy now that those jobs are packing up and leaving.

I grew up in and still live in Nitro (5, Informative)

asherlev (2499) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903799)

Since we're besting each other, I also have a box full of my grandfather's diaries after he found FMC(right down the street from the Monsanto plant in question) dumping barrels of cyanide in the Kanawha River in the 70's. The management threatened to kill him and his daughters.
You're right though, it's no better now. Despite the fact that the Nitro area(don't even get me started on Manilla Creek) had one of the highest concentrations of marker cancers in the world before the plants closed down, if you say anything negative about the chemical industry in town you're immediately attacked.

Ambulance chasers (1, Insightful)

Squidlips (1206004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38902993)

Now that the Ambulance Chasers are involved, it is hard to tell what is fact and what is fiction

Long dead . . . 1949 & corporate personhood (3, Interesting)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903143)

So, I can pretty much guarantee that anybody who was involved in Monsanto's decisions 63 years ago is no longer at the company and, in fact, may no longer be alive. Why does it make sense to sue the current company and injure its current stockholders for something that those people did all that time ago?

The answer? The legal fiction that the company is a 'person' that, among other things, has to be responsible for its actions.

All the people complaining about companies not being 'persons' in regard to free-speech rights should be careful, because if they're not persons, then they're just collections of people. And in the US, we only hold people liable for things they're personally responsible for. For example, if your parents die owing a lot of money, you don't inherit their debt. If corporations are just collections of persons, then there's no sense in suing Monsanto for this today -- they weren't involved. At most, you could find out who made all the decisions and go back and sue their estates.

Washington Lawyers (3, Interesting)

Tokolosh (1256448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903463)

Agent Orange and its emotive supporters want to keep the revenue pump primed. Together with asbestos, this is productive government teat:

http://www.washingtonwatch.com/bills/show/112_HR_812.html [washingtonwatch.com]
http://www.washingtonwatch.com/bills/show/112_SN_1629.html [washingtonwatch.com]
http://www.washingtonwatch.com/bills/show/111_HR_2254.html [washingtonwatch.com]
http://www.washingtonwatch.com/bills/show/111_HR_637.html [washingtonwatch.com]
http://www.washingtonwatch.com/bills/show/111_HR_3491.html [washingtonwatch.com]
http://www.washingtonwatch.com/bills/show/110_HR_972.html [washingtonwatch.com]
etc., etc.

Regarding free markets. My city used to dump raw sewage in the river, until it was sued in 1925 by a downstream town for polluting the water. After a court case, a treatment plant was built - no EPA or federal government required, common law is sufficient.

Re:Washington Lawyers (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903737)

If your city was sued, it means that there was a law that the courts ruled on a law.

Which means that a government made a law that said, no, dumping sewage into the river is a no-no because there was a law that said it was a no-no.

Unless you are proponing that the courts legislate from the bench with declarations of Solomon-esque wisdom. In which case, the courts become the government, and you've gone full circle.

Not to mention that in your fantasy system that you can ever stop someone from doing something harmful before they do it. If you can only sue someone after they dump the sewage and cause your children to be born with three arms, two heads and no intestine (see the linked wikipedia article in TFA), then you've already suffered non-recoverable harm.

Finally, why do free market purists think that if you get rid of government that it will get rid of people exercising power? Governments may be evil, but at least they are answerable in the end to the people, unlike the private fiefdoms known as corporations. (See also Jefferson on inalienable rights and men forming governments to protect them.) Governments are supposed to fill that niche, and be less evil than that which will fill them if they don't exist. The whole Ayn Rand free markets lead to paradise idea is naive and dangerous.

Re:Washington Lawyers (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38903745)

Interesting. Did the lawsuit somehow pay money to the people affected by the sewage dump? How much? What about the people farther downstream than the town that sued?

Also, note that it took a town to sue, not individuals. Are you saying that only those wealthy enough to afford a lawsuit should be able to sue? What if the town administration would just have been paid a lump sum by the town upstream, and the town administration downstream just said "Keep on dumping!"?

Lots of questions, few answers.

Re:Washington Lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38903943)

Free market libertarianism is the perfect answer to a whole set of questions as long as you don't fully understand the questions in the first place.

MS Dangerous (1)

marcroelofs (797176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904263)

I think, just like the other MS, this company is doing everything it can to completely pwn the field in which they operate and use every means available. In Monsanto's case it is far more dangerous even, because the 'code' they are meddling with is not the OS software for 75% of desktops, but the very system of 100% of life on this planet. This is not just about freedom of information, but about life and evolution.

A company like that should be scrutinized to the highest standards. Instead it is one of the dirtiest and most cynical companies in history. Their dossier reads like a bad villain movie, only worse.
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