Monsanto’s Criminal Record For Environmental Contamination
Monsanto has been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as
being the "potentially responsible party" for no fewer than 93 contaminated
sites (Superfund Sites) in the U.S.
Monsanto has also admitted: "There are various other lawsuits, claims and
proceedings that state agencies and others have asserted against the company
seeking remediation of alleged environmental impairment".
1986 - A US District Court found Monsanto liable in the death of a Texas
employee from leukemia caused by exposure to the carcinogen benzene. The
plaintiff’s family contended that Monsanto had neglected to monitor benzene
emissions at the plant and had failed to instruct workers about the risks of
handling benzene-tainted compounds. The court awarded the plaintiff’s family
1988 - Monsanto agreed to a $1.5 million settlement in a chemical poisoning
case filed by over 170 former employees of the company’s Nitro, West Virginia
facility. Six workers said they had been exposed to chemicals which gave them
a rare form of bladder cancer.
1990 - Monsanto paid $648,000 to settle charges that it allegedly failed to
report significant risk findings from health studies to the EPA as required
under the Toxic Substance Control Act.
1991 - The Massachusetts Attorney General’s office fined Monsanto $1
million--the largest ever assessed in Massachusetts for violation of a state
environmental law--for illegally discharging 200,000 gallons of acid-laden
wastewater from a plant and failing to report the release immediately as well
as understating the volume of the release. According to the state’s
Department of Environmental Protection, Monsanto, which paid a $35,000 fine
in 1988 for failing to report an acid spill at the same facility, had a
history of violating spill-reporting laws.
1992 - Monsanto agreed to pay $39 million of a $208 million Superfund
settlement with 1700 Houston residents who claimed injuries as a result of
living near a former toxic waste dump, labeled one of the worst such sites in
Texas. Plaintiffs argued that Monsanto deposited 519 million pounds of
hazardous compounds into unlined holes in the ground. Children in the area
suffer health problems including immune deficiency disorders, cancer, and
facial deformities allegedly due to exposure to toxins leaking from the site.
1996 - Monsanto agreed to pay $50,000 in legal costs and to alter advertising
in New York after complaints from the state’s attorney general that
advertisements for Monsanto’s Roundup brand herbicide were misleading. In
their advertisements, Monsanto had claimed that Roundup was safer than table
salt and "practically non-toxic" to mammals, birds and fish. New York had
been challenging the ads since 1991.
The Mississippi River
The Mississippi River has suffered especially from Monsanto’s pollution.
Monsanto’s Sauget, Illinois plant discharges an estimated 34 million pounds
of toxins into the river. The facility is a major producer of
chloronitrobenzenes, bioaccumulative teratogens detected at levels as high as
1000 parts per billion in fish over 100 miles downstream. Before they were
banned in the 1970s, the Sauget plant was the world’s only manufacturer of
PCBs. Besides being present at high levels in Mississippi fish, PCBs are
ubiquitous in the global ecosystem.
Monsanto’s Muscatine, Iowa plant, which produces alachlor, butachlor and
other highly toxic compounds, releases at least 265,000 pounds of chemicals
per year directly into the Mississippi.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service: "[T]he combined effect of the
Monsanto discharge with other discharges may severely stress and degrade the
[aquatic] habitat." Agricultural chemicals in the discharge were of
Monsanto's Pseudo Science Dioxin
"There are numerous...flaws in the Monsanto health studies. Each of these
misrepresentations and falsifications served to negate any conclusions of
adverse health effects from dioxins."
Dr. Cate Jenkins, US EPA Regulatory Development Branch, 1990.
"There is a clear pattern of fraudulent misconduct in the dioxin science
performed by the chemical industry and its indentured academics."
Dr. Samuel Epstein, Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine,
University of Illinois, 1990.
"For better or worse, we’re deeper into ‘dioxin[s]’ than anyone, even
though the public links them more to Dow."
Monsanto internal memo made public in 1987.
*As the third largest US chemical company and the inventor of PCBs, Monsanto
manufactures, uses, and disposes of vast quantities of chemicals associated
with the generation and dispersal of dioxins. Dioxins are among the most
notorious toxins ever made, and are present in the general population and
widespread in the environment.
*A 1991 study by the National Institute of Occupation Health and Safety
(NIOSH) found a statistically significant increase in cancers in the workers
at all sites when dioxin-exposed workers at Monsanto’s plant and elsewhere
were examined as an aggregate group. That is, NIOSH indicated that dioxin
exposure did increase the likelihood of cancer. Moreover, recent (1992-94)
documents by the US EPA itself suggest that the weight of evidence indicates
that dioxin can be considered a human carcinogen. EPA researchers have
estimated that dioxin exposure currently poses cancer hazards which are 100
to 1000 times greater than the standard "acceptable" risk of one cancer per
million. According to such risk estimates, dioxin would cause 350-3500
cancers annually in the US, or up to three percent of all cancers.
Bovine Growth Hormone
In 1991, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the company’s
materials on BGH "go beyond the legitimate exchange of scientific
information" and ordered Monsanto to stop making unsubstantiated claims about
Monsanto also produces butachlor (trade names Machete, Lambast), an
herbicide which poses both acute and chronic health risks and can contaminate
water supplies. Although Monsanto manufactures butachlor in Iowa, the
herbicide has never been registered in the US or gained a food residue
tolerance. In 1984, the EPA rejected Monsanto’s registration applications due
to "environmental, residue, fish and wildlife, and toxicological concerns."
Monsanto has refused to submit additional data requested by the EPA. Despite
its recognized dangers, Monsanto sells butachlor abroad. Dozens of countries
in Latin America, Asia, and Africa use the product, primarily on the paddy
rice which constitutes almost all of US rice imports.
GREENPEACE, April 1997 1436 U St. NW, Washington DC 20009