GENTECH archive 8.96-97

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Monsanto:Roundup not environmentally friendly!




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Date:    Fri, 10 Jan 97 16:02:59 -0800 
From:    PANNA InfoPubs <paninfopubs@igc.apc.org>
To:      Recipients of conference <panups@igc.apc.org>
Subject: PANUPS: Agribusiness News

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January 10, 1997

Monsanto Agrees to Change Ads and 
EPA Fines Northrup King

Monsanto Co. agreed to change its advertising for glyphosate-
based products, including Roundup, in response to complaints 
by the New York Attorney General's office that the ads were 
misleading. Based on their investigation, the Attorney 
General's office felt that the advertising inaccurately 
portrayed Monsanto's glyphosate-containing products as safe 
and as not causing any harmful effects to people or the 
environment. According to the state, the ads also implied 
that the risks of products such as Roundup are the same as 
those of the active ingredient, glyphosate, and do not take 
into account the possible risks associated with the product's 
inert ingredients. 

As part of the agreement, Monsanto will discontinue the use 
of terms such as "biodegradable" and "environmentally 
friendly" in all advertising of glyphosate-containing 
products in New York state and will pay $50,000 toward the 
state's costs of pursuing the case. The Attorney General has 
been challenging the ads since 1991.

Monsanto maintains that it did not violate any federal, state 
or local law and that its claims were "true and not 
misleading in any way." The company states that they entered 
into the agreement for settlement purposes only in order to 
avoid costly litigation. 

According to a 1993 report published by the School of Public 
Health at the University of California, Berkeley, glyphosate 
was the third most commonly-reported cause of pesticide 
illness among agricultural workers. Another study from the 
School of Public Health found that glyphosate was the most 
commonly reported cause of pesticide illness among landscape 
maintenance workers. (Both studies were based on data 
collected between 1984 and 1990.)

In the first nine months of 1996, Monsanto's worldwide 
agrochemical sales increased by 21% to US$2.48 billion, due 
largely to increased sales of Roundup.

EPA Fines Northrup King 

Also in November 1996, Northrup King Co. agreed to pay a 
US$165,200 fine to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 
(EPA) for importing, producing, selling and distributing an 
unregistered pesticide P genetically engineered corn 
containing Bacillus thurgiensis (Bt). This was EPA's first 
legal action involving a genetically engineered plant 
pesticide. 

According to EPA, the company's activities violated the U.S. 
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and 
included failing to file with EPA the required paperwork for 
importing the Bt corn, and producing the pesticide at eight 
unregistered facilities during 1994-95.

Northrup King, a Sandoz Seeds subsidiary based in Minnesota, 
maintains that they had been working with the EPA to obtain 
registration for their Bt corn and expected approval last 
spring. However, in order to have as much seed as possible to 
sell to U.S. growers, the company shipped seed to Chile for 
winter production and brought the increased volumes back to 
the U.S. for packaging and sale. A company spokesperson 
stated that the federal process took longer than expected, 
and therefore Northrup King was in "technical violation" by 
letting its production get ahead of registration. The 
originally proposed fine of US$208,500 was reduced by 20% 
because of what EPA officials called the company's 
"cooperation and good faith efforts to come into compliance." 

Northrup King's Bt corn, developed in collaboration with 
Monsanto using its Yieldgard technology, was registered on 
August 5, 1996, and the company has been selling seed to U.S. 
farmers since then for next season's plantings. According to 
reports, the company expected to sell out by the end of the 
1996, and is projecting 500,000 to one million acres planted 
with the company's seed by next spring.

Sources: Agrow: World Crop Protection News, November 15, 
November 29 & December 13, 1996; EPA News Release, Region 5, 
November 4, 1996; Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 7, 1996; 
The Gene Exchange, December 1996; Preventing Pesticide-
related Illness in California Agriculture, William Pease, et 
al., 1993; Pesticides in the Home and Community: Health risks 
and policy alternatives, J.C. Robinson et al., 1994.

Contact: PANNA (see below).

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