Monsanto has been declared the most evil company in the world by scientists, bloggers, and on social media. They deserve the title. Protests all over the world have been in support of banning or regulating the use of Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMO’s. The European Union, Australia, and Japan have all either entirely banned their use in food items, or require controls such as food labeling. Chemicals produced by the giant Agro-Culture company have harmed humans, animals, and the environment for years. The first that we knew about was the result of the military’s use of Agent Orange in Vietnam. Produced by Monsanto, it was labeled a ‘defoliating agent,’ designed to destroy much of the heavy jungle in Southeast Asia. Monsanto promised that it was not harmful to humans. Soldiers returning from the war began to experience deadly health problems; the cause; dioxin contained in Agent Orange. The hatred of Monsanto has hidden the fact that DuPont has committed an equal number of evils which have been proven dangerous to man and the earth.
DuPont operated a munitions plant in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, from 1902 until 1994. The plant manufactured ammunition for the federal government. A community was constructed near the plant to house DuPont employees.
Investigations began in the 1980’s of the soil, groundwater, and streams in the area as residents complained of odors and strange taste in the drinking water. The result was devastating. They found lead, mercury, Tetrachloroethene, Trichloroethene, and other dangerous substances in the soil and water. The last two are chlorinated solvents. DuPont was ordered to decontaminate the entire region. The area of the former plant and the community which supported it covers more than 600 acres.
DuPont’s first effort to remove the Tetrachloroethene, (PCE), and Trichloroethene, (TCE), from rivers and streams in the area involved a process whereby microorganisms were mixed with vegetable oil. The idea was that the microorganisms would consume the solvents; the vegetable oil was food. It failed miserably.
Cleanup efforts have started and stopped for more than two decades.
Pompton Lakes has approximately 11,000 residents. Longtime residents report multiple nervous conditions and behavioral problems. The community also suffers an unusually high number of cancers; primarily kidney and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Health Department records from 1979 through 2008 revealed that women from Pompton Lakes and the surrounding area receive treatment for tumorous cancers at a rate 40 percent higher than other communities, and men are hospitalized for numerous causes at a 23 percent higher rate than others.
More than 190 sites have been reported as contaminated. DuPont recently announced that a spinoff company, Chemours, will assume the cleanup project. Residents highly question this move by DuPont. The SEC believes that the cleanup project should cost about $87 million; Chemours estimates the cost at $300 million, but claims that the cost could triple.
DuPont’s beginnings go back to the Civil War when it monopolized the sale of gunpowder. They developed other explosives for military use. Later the company became involved in the development of nuclear weapons. They have also developed caustic herbicides and pesticides comparable to those of Monsanto, including DDT and PCB’s. Just like Monsanto, they also developed and sold Agent Orange.
Monsanto and DuPont spend millions of dollars a year lobbying Congress and protecting their profits.
No company whose entire product line is based on chemicals is entirely safe. Years later after their use and the damage is discovered, the profits will far outweigh the cost of a cleanup. And that cleanup is often stalled for years, allowing the companies to take a large tax deduction. In reality, the profits are great, and the cost of a resulting cleanup is negligible.
Opinion By James Turnage