When WTVT, a Fox television station in Tampa, Flordia launched an investigative news segment, I’m sure they had no idea how deep their journalists would dig.
Emmy Award winning journalists, Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, created a four-part news series centered around Monsanto’s practice of using Bovine Growth hormones (rbGH or rbST). At the time, 90 percent of the milk in Flordia contained the added hormone. Milk from treated cows was linked to cancer, unbeknownst to consumers. The first segment was scheduled to air on February 24, 1997. Akre and Wilson sought to expose how Monsanto had lied to the public about the harmful effects of rbGH.
Before the segment was aired, the station received threatening faxes from Monsanto urging them not to run the story. The station caved under the pressure from Monsanto’s lawyers. Fox pulled the segment and Akre and Wilson were fired in December. Both were offered six-figure bribes to stay silent about the story. They did not accept.
After a lengthy battle in the courts, Akre won a lawsuit against Fox for her wrongful termination. Both Akre and Wilson received the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2001 for their work. It took five years for Monsanto to cease their use of Bovine Growth Hormone.
This is not the first time Monsanto has prioritized profits over public safety. The controversial company has recently come under fire again for their use of harmful pesticides. Monsanto’s product, RoundUp, contains glyphosate. The company sought to cover up an investigation into the potentially harmful effects of the product by the U.S. Health and Human Service Department.
Jess Rowland, an Environmental Protection Agency officially, allegedly bragged to a Monsanto executive that he deserved a medal for his work covering up the investigation boasting, “If I can kill this I should get a medal.”
Last year, Rowand oversaw a committee Monsanto to stop the investigation into the correlation between their glyphosate-based herbicide and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Zen Honeycutt questioned the EPA Pesticide Review board about how Monsanto could claim that Roundup was safe, despite the fact that no long-term studies have been conducted. She asked, “Then how can you claim that it is safe?” The EPA refused to answer.
Their silence is because they have no idea. The proper scientific research has yet to be conducted to determine if the final formula of Roundup is safe.
When the CEO of Monsanto, Hugh Grant, was questioned about the safety of Roundup, he claimed that “numerous regulatory agencies have assessed glyphosate and all of them have found glyphosate to be safe.”
Notice that “glyphosate” is always used on its own. His verbiage neglects to mention the safety of the product as a whole. Also, the term “safe” is may not mean the same thing to Monsanto as it does to you.
In the realm of chemical companies, the word “safe” is synonymous with “nontoxic,” which means that it “won’t kill a human in 96 hours.”
Despite the fact that 96 hours of not dying after coming into contact with Roundup is a pretty low threshold to clear to be defined as “safe,” other formulations of Roundup and 750 other generic versions are 1000x more toxic.
While journalism is left in the hands of big corporations, Monsanto’s dangerous business practices go unreported. Fox was pressured into pulling the segment out of fear of losing their advertisers, many of which were owned by Monsanto.
Thankfully, journalists like Honeycutt are asking the hard questions to unearth the dark side of Monsanto’s practices.