Poison Papers: Monsanto Knew PCBs Were Toxic for Years But Sold Them Anyway

GR:  Monsanto is facing enormous financial penalties for their continued production and sale of toxic chemicals. This post (and earlier stories) discusses PCBs. Other reports describe similar indefensible production and sale of ecosystem destroying and cancer causing herbicides. I guess that once the company directors decided that profits were more important than the health and life of people and natural systems, they would sell any profitable chemical they could produce. The company strategy includes controlling government regulations and regulators.

“Washington could have an ace up its sleeve in its major lawsuit against Monsanto over PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) contamination throughout the state.

“Before switching operations to agriculture, Monsanto was the primary manufacturer of PCBs, which was used for paints, electrical equipment and other products, from 1935 until 1977. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned PCBs in 1979 due to its link to birth defects and cancer in laboratory animals. PCBs can have adverse skin and liver effects in humans and can also linger in the environment for many decades.

“But according to documents published by The Poison Papers project, a new online archive of more than 20,000 documents obtained from federal agencies and chemical manufacturers, Monsanto possibly knew as early as the 1960s—at least a decade before the federal ban—that PCBs were harmful to public health and the environment but continued to manufacture and sell the widely used product anyway.

“Washington assistant attorney general Bill Sherman told the Guardian that the archive contained information the state was previously unaware of.

“If authentic, these records confirm that Monsanto knew that their PCBs were harmful and pervasive in the environment, and kept selling them in spite of that fact,” he said. “They knew the dangers, but hid them from the public in order to profit.”

“Sherman cited a particular Monsanto pollution abatement plan from October 1969 that was published in the Poison Papers archive. A section of the plan titled, the “damage to the ecological system by contamination from PCBs,” states: “The evidence proving the persistence of these compounds and their universal presence in the environment is beyond questioning.”

“Further, the document says that “direct lawsuits are possible” because “customers using the products have not been officially notified about known effects nor [do] our labels carry this information.” –Lorraine Chow (Continue: Poison Papers: Monsanto Knew PCBs Were Toxic for Years But Sold Them Anyway).

Armed with smartphones, Cameroon forest defenders take on illegal loggers

GR: Around the world, legal and illegal resource use is destroying wildlife habitat, eroding soils, and polluting water. Earth has been no match for humans, either those believing they are practicing sustainable harvest, or those just wanting wealth.

“KADEY, Cameroon, In an innovative push to combat illegal logging and the corruption that enables it, community volunteers in Cameroon are being trained to use smartphones to take geo-tagged images of freshly cut stumps and relay the information to the authorities.

“Under a partnership between the government and environmental groups, young people are using satellite-linked phones to document tree-cutting in areas where logging is not allowed.

“They can then upload the photos and make toll-free calls to report the suspicious activity, not just to the police and forest ministry, but also to the National Anti-Corruption Commission, said Bangya Dieudonne, a forestry and wildlife official in Kadey, in the country’s East Region.

“Getting these three institutions informed makes it difficult for forest exploitation criminals to bribe their way through,” he said.

“Training frontline forest defenders aims to reduce illegal deforestation, which is depriving the government of billions of CFA francs in income, hurting communities that make their living from the forest, and making the country more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, officials said.

“With corruption continuing to hamper forest management, new and stronger measures are needed, Dieudonne said.

“So far, more than 100 people have been trained as community “forest defenders” in the East Region and other areas where logging has been especially prevalent, officials said.” –The Local Africa News (More: Armed with smartphones, Cameroon forest defenders take on illegal loggers • The Local Africa News.)

Why You Should Care: Trump’s Order on the Border Wall

GR:  In the midst of the greatest mass extinction in Earth history, the U. S. government is stepping in to do even more to disrupt wildlife movements and put more pressure on survival.

Wall on the Mexico Border

“Wildlife and habitat are on the line because of impacts of the new administration’s immigration policy.

“Today, President Trump ordered the construction of a Mexican border wall — the first in a series of steps intended to crack down on immigration and bolster national security. The executive order to finish the remaining 1,000 miles will have a huge impact on biological unity, connectivity along the border, and habitat disruption.

“While being constructed to stop people from illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border, the border wall actually does more to prevent wildlife – not humans – from migrating and connecting with different populations across vast natural southwestern habitats.

“Maintaining connected habitats is important for any species, but especially for those struggling to survive in the face of multiple and cumulative threats. For some species, the wall will completely block the corridors – or regularly traveled paths through the landscape – that they have relied on for centuries. If the wall fragments populations and prevents animals from reaching necessary habitat, these species are unlikely to remain healthy and contribute to their ecological landscapes. Imperiled species such as the ocelot, Mexican gray wolf, jaguar and Sonoran pronghorn may not be able to migrate, exchange genes between populations, and or reach vital food sources.

Is There An Alternative?

“There are several scientific and conservation-minded solutions to extending the wall, including virtual fencing and wildlife-friendly vehicle barriers that are passable only to wildlife. There are also short-term measures that can be taken to support wildlife on America’s borders such as increased funding for environmental protection, improved environmental training for Border Patrol agents, and greater commitment to existing environmental laws.” –Hillary Esquina (Continue reading: Why You Should Care: Trump’s Order on the Border Wall – Defenders of Wildlife Blog).

Ring-Tailed Lemur Populations Have Crashed by 95 Percent

GR: Sad times if you care for wildlife. The researchers explain that Ring-Tailed Lemurs declined to this point with no outcry because no one was watching. Around the world at this crucial time for wildlife, there are too few scientists monitoring populations. “The two most prolific Lemur researchers, Alison Jolly and Robert Sussman, have died and we are the only descendants with active research in Madagascar,” said researcher Tara A. Clarke of the organization Lemur Love.

Credit: Eric Kilby Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Madagascar’s beloved ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) have all but disappeared from many of the island nation’s forests. According to two worrying new studies, the species’ population has fallen to between 2,000 and 2,400 animals—a shocking 95 percent decrease since the year 2000.

“To put that number in context, there are now fewer ring-tailed lemurs living in the wild than there are living in zoos around the world.

“Factors driving the decline include rapid habitat loss, hunting, and the illegal pet trade, according to a paper published last month in the journal Primate Conservation and a second paper published today in Folia Primatologica.

“The situation is so bad that many ring-tailed lemur sub-populations now contain fewer than 30 individuals. In addition, the animals have completely disappeared from at least 15 sites they once called home.

“The now-empty forests are “very sad, quiet and dusty,” says Marni LaFleur, lead author of the second paper and a co-director of the conservation organization Lemur Love. “There was a thick layer of crunchy leaf litter on the ground, and dust on top. Some trees were heavy with ripe and rotten fruits. Without birds or mammals to consume them, the untouched fruits just rot in and around the trees. Normal aspects of a forest, which as a biologist I have a fairly keen eye for—footprints, scat, bite marks, sleeping spots, calls—are absent.” John R. Platt

(Continue reading: Ring-Tailed Lemur Populations Have Crashed by 95 Percent – Scientific American Blog Network.)