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A Cancer on Society: Monsanto Claims Right Not to Speak About Roundup

Monsanto doesn’t want the world to know their product is labeled a "probable carcinogen."

"Reminiscent of Big Tobacco and Big Oil companies' tactics, they set in motion a plan to discredit the international agency's study in order to continue selling their dangerous product." (Photo: Occupy Monsanto/@gmo917/Twitter)

"Reminiscent of Big Tobacco and Big Oil companies' tactics, they set in motion a plan to discredit the international agency's study in order to continue selling their dangerous product." (Photo: Occupy Monsanto/@gmo917/Twitter)

It's no secret that Monsanto Corporation's trademarked pesticide Ready Roundup has become one of the most widely used herbicides in agriculture since its introduction in the mid-1970s. What might be a surprise to most is that, according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), glyphosate, the principal ingredient in the herbicide, is a "probable carcinogen." Acting to protect its public, as governments should do, the State of California required that food labels indicate the presence of glyphosate. Problem sorta solved… except for Monsanto’s ill-gotten and ill-considered constitutional rights.

Obviously, Monsanto doesn’t want the world to know that it is highly likely their product is a carcinogen, so Monsanto took California to court — and won. Despite the IARC's findings, a U.S. District Judge has temporarily suspended the labeling of food products that contain traces of the herbicide, because it violates Monsanto’s First Amendment “right not to speak”.

"We are pleased Judge Shubb granted our request," said Chandler Goule, the chief executive officer for the National Assn. of Wheat Growers after the ruling. Goule went on to say that this is the first step in preventing California environmental officials "from forcing farmers, growers, and manufacturers to place false and misleading labels on agricultural products.”

As long as we fail to fix the Constitution by establishing once and for all that human beings, not corporations like Monsanto, are entitled to constitutional rights, and that political money is not free speech, more corporate-funded shills will ascend to power to assert corporate interests over environmental sustainability and human wellbeing.

Back in 2015, when the WHO brought together 17 oncology experts from 11 countries to review the long-suspected link between glyphosate and kidney disease in farm workers, they concluded and published, that glyphosate is a "probable carcinogen." However, the WHO conclusion stirred an international controversy: European pesticide regulators and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency alleged that contrary evidence was ignored or omitted.

It should come as no surprise that Monsanto also rejected the WHO's findings, which predicted the IARC would find carcinogens in its weed killer. Reminiscent of Big Tobacco and Big Oil companies' tactics, they set in motion a plan to discredit the international agency's study in order to continue selling their dangerous product. And thanks to its corporate constitutional rights and deep pockets, Monsanto found a willing shill in climate-change-denier and, ironically, the chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee: Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas).

Throughout his 32 years in Congress, Rep. Smith has received large monetary contributions from fossil fuel, automobile, and pharmaceutical/health industries, including Monsanto. Rep. Smith lashed out against the IARC during a hearing last February, accusing it of conducting “cherry-picked science” and even threatening retaliation by cutting off the U.S. contribution to the international agency. Such biased behavior has been a constant throughout his 5-year tenure as the science committee chairman, while Rep. Smith has made it his personal mission to relentlessly attack the integrity of individual scientists and the scientific community at large.

It is outrageous for an elected official to willingly jeopardize his constituents' health and safety to protect Monsanto's profits. Citizen backlash exploded; thousands expressed their anger online as a petition to tell Congress not to defund cancer research had reached over 42,800 signatures. After 16 terms of loyally supporting his campaign contributors, Smith announced last year that he won’t seek re-election when his term ends in 2018.

The congressman’s departure may be good riddance, but the root problem does not lie with any individual political figure or party. It lies with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of constitutional “personhood.” As long as we fail to fix the Constitution by establishing once and for all that human beings, not corporations like Monsanto, are entitled to constitutional rights, and that political money is not free speech, more corporate-funded shills will ascend to power to assert corporate interests over environmental sustainability and human wellbeing.

To prevent this cancerous process from metastasizing, take action now! Join the hundreds of organizations and over 450,000 individuals all across the nation working with the [Move to Amend to pass the We the People Amendment. It is the only amendment bill before Congress that will address both doctrines undermining democratic self-governance: money as speech and corporate constitutional rights. It’s high time to demand government serves We the People, not corporate donors. Sign the petition at: MoveToAmend.org/motion.

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Alfonso Saldaña

Alfonso Saldaña joined Move to Amend in 2018, where he put his English Degree with an emphasis in creative writing and his bilingualism to work. Alfonso lives mostly in his head but resides in Brownsville, Texas where he freelances and is an activist.

Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap

Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap serves on the Executive Committee Move to Amend. She is Field Organizing Coordinator for the campaign. She can be reached at kaitlin@MoveToAmend.org.

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