By Nick Meyer
While Monsanto does everything in its power to gloss over its dark history which includes the poisoning of numerous towns and ecosystems, as well as supplying the materials for deadly chemical weapons including white phosphorus and Agent Orange, those who are educated know the company is about far more than just agriculture.
One of Monsanto’s worst crime scenes is in the small town of Anniston, Alabama (population 22,666), one of the worst examples of PCB contamination the world has ever seen.
It was here that pollution from the Monsanto Plant resulted in the largest effect on a population via a single toxic contamination — so bad that 100 PCB contaminated houses were bought and demolished by Monsanto. The company was forced to pay a legal settlement of $700 million resulting from a lawsuit on behalf over 20,000 of the town’s residents; spurred by the tragic story of 16-year-old resident Terry Baker, who died of a brain tumor and lung cancer.
Now, more than 13 years since the Monsanto settlement, Anniston residents are discovering that Monsanto’s toxic PCBs may still be wreaking havoc on their health.
Two-Year Study Confirms Massive Liver Damage
According to the results of a two-year federal study, the residents of Anniston are still suffering from potentially life-threatening health problems due to PCB exposure.
For the study, researchers analyzed blood and other health information from 738 Anniston residents in 2013, and again in 2014 from 352 of those same residents, according to this report from the Anniston Star website.
What they found was eye-opening:
-The Anniston residents had higher rates of fatty liver disease than the general U.S. population
-Residents had a rate of liver injury of more than 60 percent compared to just 24.3% of the general U.S. population
-A level of toxic PCBs were present in the body above the general population, although the amount dropped from 2007 to 2014
-A connection between higher PCB levels and diabetes, as well as high blood pressure and liver disease
For those affected, the liver damage statistics are especially troublesome, considering that liver failure or cancer may potentially result from the type of chronic liver inflammation experienced by the town’s residents, the study showed.
The connection between diabetes and PCBs was shown to be less than before, but it remains a concern.
“That may be expected as the population ages, ”
said researcher Dr. Marian Pavuk, senior epidemiologist for the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances. “More people already have diabetes and as people get older, they develop it.”
The chemicals responsible for the mass poisoning of Anniston were produced by the Monsanto plant, which is now the Eastman Chemical Company after Eastman bought it from Solutia, Inc. Monsanto had spun off its industrial chemicals division to Solutia previously.
The Monsanto plant at the time routinely discharged toxic waste into a West Anniston creek and dumped millions of pounds of the toxic PCBs, now-banned industrial coolants, into oozing open-pit landfalls, according to journalist Mathieu Asselin who shot this haunting photo gallery of the town and other Monsanto waste sites. Monsanto concealed what it did and what it knew over nearly 40 years in thousands of pages of documents that read “CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy,” Asselin said.
In April 2001 in Monsanto’s opening statement for the trial of Owens v. Monsanto, the company’s lawyers acknowledged one health threat posed by PCB exposure: chloracne, a serious skin condition, which they said was the only significant problem the chemicals are capable of causing.
But as the science has shown since then, including this new federal study, Monsanto’s assertions have yet again proven to be untrue. Activist Terry Baker, whose brother Terry mentioned above passed away at age 16, said that Anniston residents have experienced many liver problems and often find themselves checking into the local hospital for treatment. Others have been dealt an even worse hand.
“I never drank and I never smoked,” said Anniston resident Brenda Cook, who lived most of her life in a house about a block away from the Monsanto plant. “But I got cancer.”
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