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Cereal Killer: Monsanto Put RoundUp in My Kid’s Cheerios?

Posted on Friday, August 9th, 2019 at 5:24 pm by Williams Hart   

Imagine yourself on a Saturday afternoon: you’re at the grocery store, pushing a heavily loaded shopping cart through a maze of long, crowded aisles. You’re anticipating a lengthy receipt. 

Leaving behind a treacherous wall of cookies and other delicious treats, you turn the corner, kids trailing behind you, and at once realize you’ve entered another minefield of questionable choices: the cereal aisle. You try to move quickly but escape proves futile. 

Suddenly, a yellow, family-sized box appears. “Please?” the small voice whines. Sigh.

“Sure”.

 What’s the harm in another week’s worth of Cheerios, anyway?

Poison for Breakfast: Are Those Cheerios Contaminated?

It turns out, there may actually be significant harm in that box on its way to your pantry. 

Since the breakfast cereal was introduced to the American diet in 1863, children and adults alike have enjoyed an estimated 160 bowls, or 10 lbs of cereal, per person–annually. With a U.S. population of nearly 300-million people today, that’s 1.35 billion kilograms a year. That’s a lot of cereal. 

Until recently, devoted consumers have remained blissfully unaware of what may be hiding in those beloved boxes of sugary goodness.

The Study

Independent laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group in 2018, and again in June 2019, revealed that heavy doses of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular herbicide RoundUp®️, have been found in many food products specifically marketed towards children. 

Unsafe levels of glyphosate were detected in all but two of 45 samples of oat-based food products distributed by two major companies, Quaker Oats and General Mills. Among those products, breakfast cereals consistently tested highest for glyphosate contamination. 

 

Product Type Variety Glyphosate (ppb)
Oat breakfast cereal Honey Nut Cheerios 147
Oat breakfast cereal Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal 729
Oat breakfast cereal Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios 400
Oat breakfast cereal Cheerios Oat Crunch Cinnamon 283
Oat breakfast cereal Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch 833
Oat breakfast cereal Multi Grain Cheerios 216
Oat breakfast cereal Nature Valley Baked Oat Bites 389

(Source)

While the companies say there is no reason for concern, tests showed that 26 of the 28 samples revealed amounts of glyphosate higher than EWG’s safe upper limits. 

In another analysis, exposure to glyphosate increased the overall risk for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma by 41%.

“All of the meta-analyses conducted to date, including our own, consistently report the same key finding: exposure to GBHs (glyphosate-based herbicides) are associated with an increased risk of NHL,” the authors wrote in a study published in the journal of Mutation Research

“It is very troubling that cereals children like to eat contain glyphosate,” said Alexis Temkin, an EWG toxicologist and author of the report. “Parents shouldn’t worry about whether feeding their children healthy oat foods will also expose them to a chemical linked to cancer. The government must take steps to protect our most vulnerable populations.” 

Representatives from General Mills and Kelloggs have denied that the levels of glyphosate found in their cereals are above safe limits. 

Who is the Environmental Working Group?

Founded in 1993 by Ken Cook, EWG is an American activist group and nonprofit organization that specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of agricultural subsidies, toxic chemicals, drinking water pollutants, and corporate accountability. Their mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Their key issues include consumer products, cosmetics, farming, food, toxics, and children’s health. 

The Cancer Round-Up

RoundUp is an extremely popular herbicide, originally produced by agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto, and its widespread use has led to understandable concern following increased awareness about its possible carcinogenic effects.

RoundUp: Helpful Herbicide or Dangerous Carcinogen?

RoundUp and other herbicides with the active ingredient glyphosate are probably the most commonly used weed killers among farmers, foresters, gardeners, and biologists trying to control weeds. Since Roundup’s introduction in 1974 more than 9.4 million tons of Roundup have been sprayed into crops, fields, and backyards that pose a direct health risk to people across the country.

According to a report by The Guardian, “US farmers spray about 200m pounds of Roundup each year on their crops, including corn, soybeans, wheat and oats. It can also be used on produce such as spinach and almonds.”

How does it work?

Glyphosate-based herbicides all work on the same biochemical principle — they inhibit a specific enzyme that plants need in order to grow. The specific enzyme is called EPSP synthase. Without that enzyme, plants are unable to produce other proteins essential to growth, so they yellow and die over the course of several days or weeks. A majority of plants use this same enzyme, so almost all plants succumb to RoundUp.

Glyphosate is used mostly as a weedkiller on genetically modified corn and soybeans. But it is also sprayed on oats just before harvest as a drying agent, or desiccant. It kills the crop, drying it out so it can be harvested sooner, which increases the likelihood that glyphosate ends up in foods children love to eat.

Cancer Connection

The failure to warn consumers of the risk involved with RoundUp has continued in spite of the International Agency of Research on Cancer (IARC) listing glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen as early as 2015.  Recent court proceedings and newly published research have highlighted the possible link between Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and heavy use of RoundUp among those hard-at-work in the agricultural industry.

Dewayne “Lee” Johnson filed a lawsuit against Monsanto in 2016 alleging that being exposed to the Roundup herbicide while he worked as a groundskeeper caused him to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). This was a first of its kind case which led to a unanimous verdict that Roundup’s glyphosate-based weedkiller was responsible for Johnson’s cancer.  The trial took over 8 weeks and resulted in a unanimous jury verdict that Monsanto acted with malice and should be punished for its product. 

“I’ve been going through a lot of pain,” Johnson testified weeks earlier. “It really takes everything out of you … I’m not getting any better.” 

Jurors awarded Johnson $289 million. Johnson’s case was the first to go to trial because Johnson’s health is declining and doctors said he didn’t have long to live. Dying plaintiffs in California can be granted expedited trials. 

Since then, more than 18,000 people have filed lawsuits across the country against Monsanto and are expected to go to trial in the coming years.

What is a Genetically Modified Organism? 

Monsanto’s reputation as a controversial agricultural biotechnology corporation holds a dominant position in both herbicides and genetically modified organisms, specifically seeds.. Identified more closely than any other company with the effort to introduce genetically modified organisms into the food supply, Monsanto has been the target of ongoing campaigns for more than 20 years.

A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering or transgenic technology. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.

A Threat to Wildlife 

Because RoundUp is used heavily in the agricultural industry, new studies have also been conducted to examine its effect on wildlife. Recent research has suggested that Roundup compromises the immune systems of bees contributing to a critical decline in bee populations. Roundup also caused bee larva to grow more slowly and die more frequently than normal which is thought to be caused by a disruption in the beneficial gut bacteria within bees’ stomachs.  

“We all know that glyphosate is an antibiotic. It’s very toxic to bacteria. It’s even patented as an antibiotic,” says Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But very few researchers have actually dived into this issue. The good thing is, that’s starting to change.” 

Researchers Nancy Moran, Erick Motta and Kasie Raymann suggest their findings are evidence that glyphosate might be contributing to colony collapse disorder. Colony Collapse Disorder is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen. This phenomenon has been wreaking havoc on both native and farmed honey bees for over a decade.

Cereal Offenders: Monsanto’s Controversial History

While the case against RoundUp is a concerning one, it is certainly not the first, or last, public grievance brought to Monsanto’s rap sheet. From its mistreatment of farmers, to morally questionable government lobbying, manufacturing of Agent Orange, and environmental and workplace safety issues–Monsanto’s disreputable past exudes suspicion and outright mistrust by the public. And rightfully so. 

Beginnings

Founded in 1901 in St. Louis, Missouri by pharmaceutical industry veteran John Francis Queeny, Monsanto began as a chemical company whose first products were commodity food additives, such as the artificial sweetener saccharin, caffeine and vanillin. 

Over a Century of White Collar Crime

Monsanto expanded rapidly throughout the 20th century, making a name for itself as, according to many advocacy groups, “the most evil corporation in the world”.

  • 1940. Monsanto produces polystyrene, the main component in Styrofoam, which creates large amounts of hazardous waste during manufacture.
  • 1945. Monsanto begins manufacturing toxic agricultural chemicals like 2,4-D, later used in Agent Orange. It also produces DDT.
  • 1956. The U.S. Navy refuses to purchase Monsanto’s hydraulic fluid after safety tests associate it with “definite liver damage.”
  • 1976. Monsanto introduces RoundUp, a synthetic chemical herbicide whose overuse soon creates glyphosate-resistant superweeds.
  • 1984. Monsanto pays millions to Vietnam War veterans suffering from exposure to Agent Orange.
  • 1990s. Monsanto takes 5th among U.S. corporations in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory.
  • 1994. Monsanto introduces recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to increase milk production, despite numerous adverse health concerns.
  • 1996. Monsanto introduces Roundup Ready soybeans, the company’s first genetically modified, pesticide-promoting seed, and the first GE insect-resistant cotton, which produces its own insecticide. Scientists find that aspartame, an artificial sweetener developed by a Monsanto subsidiary, could pose health risks to consumers.
  • 1998. Canadian government scientists accuse Monsanto of bribe attempts in obtaining approval of the drug hormone rBGH in Canada.
  • 2002. Monsanto is fined $1.5 million for bribing Indonesian officials to skip an environmental assessment of its GE cotton.
  • 2006. A judge rules that the USDA violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to conduct even minimal investigation into whether GE “pharma crops” could harm endangered species.

 

This is just a brief summary of Monsanto’s list of unjust acts against public health.

David vs. Monsanto: Legal Battles against Farmers

Perhaps one of Monsanto’s most widely publicized controversies was its mistreatment of both domestic and international farmers.

When Monsanto introduced its first genetically modified seeds in the 1990s, it forced farmers to sign contracts prohibiting them from continuing the traditional practice of saving some of the seeds from a harvest for planting the following season. To make sure farmers were compelled to purchase a new supply of the GMO seeds for every season, the company made sure it had the right to inspect and monitor the fields of its customers. It also brought lawsuits against farmers it claimed violated the company’s policies.

This controversy was highlighted in a 2011 documentary, David vs. Monsanto.

Bayer Purchase

Monsanto was purchased in 2018 by Bayer, one of the largest multinational pharmaceutical companies in the world. 

Since then, Bayer‘s stock prices have been hit hard by the recent legal rulings regarding the RoundUp cancer lawsuits. Bayer’s total market value has plummeted to less than the price it paid for Monsanto when they purchased the company last year. People took to the streets to demonstrate against acquiring Monsanto to begin with. “Bayer has choked on Monsanto,” said Ingo Speich of German lender Deka bank. “The company risks being taken over and dismantled.” Mark Tuemmler of investors’ federation DSW said 2018 was “a nightmare for shareholders.”

As of August 9th, 2019, there have been rumors that Bayer is reportedly offering a settlement of $8 billion  for the 18,000 claims filed against the RoundUp manufacturer. That’s in the ballpark of half of $1 million for each claim filed.


Hyland’s stops selling teething products following FDA warning

Posted on Monday, December 5th, 2016 at 10:31 am by Williams Hart   

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about the potential risk of teething tablets and gels to infants and children.

Specifically, the agency urged consumers to temporarily stop using homeopathic tablets and gels after numerous deaths related to the tablets occurred. The products included in the recall were tested by the FDA and found to contain belladonna.

Recently, Hyland’s, a manufacturer of homeopathic teething products, announced it will stop distributing teething tablets and gels in the U.S. following the precautionary warning by the FDA. In a statement released by the company, the manufacturer insisted the products were safe for use because they contained only a tiny amount of belladona, a toxin derived from a poisonous plant. The FDA is urging its consumers to consult with a physician before using any medicine. For a full description of the products included in the recall, you can visit the FDA website.

If your child was affected by Hyland’s homeopathic teething products, we at Williams Hart can help you draft a legal case against them. Get in touch with us at (713) 352-7071 to discuss your situation.


Facts regarding uterine fibroids

Posted on Friday, January 15th, 2016 at 11:46 am by Williams Hart   

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous, smooth muscle tumors that form on the wall of the uterus, and they usually develop after puberty, typically after age 30. While they are usually benign, there are risks of metastasis when a power morcellator is used in surgery to remove these fibroids.

The Center for Innovative Gyn Care listed the following facts regarding uterine fibroids:

  • The development of uterine fibroids in women is common, and approximately 80% of the female population has fibroids.
  • Uterine fibroids, also called leiomyomas, are not relative to the risk of uterine cancer.
  • The growth of uterine fibroids is generally unpredictable. It may be fast or slow or stay the same. They may grow significantly or shrink.
  • About 1 in 1000 women has the risk of leiomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

While uterine fibroids are not dangerous, power morcellation (the breaking down of large tissue into small fragments) may spread these cells throughout the body and put the patient at risk of leiomyosarcoma.

If you think you have suffered from the side effects of a power morcellator, please discuss your case with our lawyers at Williams Hart. Call us today at (713) 352-7071.


Understanding the role of morcellators in leiomyosarcoma

Posted on Monday, November 9th, 2015 at 8:25 am by Williams Hart   

Leiomyosarcoma is a type of cancer that forms from smooth muscle cells in the soft tissues, usually in the gastrointestinal tract or the uterus. When these cells develop in the muscular part of the uterus, it is referred to as uterine leiomyosarcoma. This type of cancer is most common in women who range in age from 40 to 60.

One thing that has been identified as a danger to women who are at risk of developing this cancer is the power morcellator. This tool uses a rotating blade to break up large portions of fibroid tissues into smaller fragments and then vacuum them away from the body. When morcellators are used on fibroids that contain cancer cells, the act of breaking them up can release those cells and allow them to scatter throughout the body. This often leads malignant cells to grow much more rapidly than they would have otherwise, expediting the growth of metastatic leiomyosarcoma in the body.

If you were diagnosed with uterine or metastatic leiomyosarcoma after a procedure involving a power morcellator, please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Williams Hart. We want to fight for you and your rights so that you can focus on your recovery. Call us now at (713) 352-7071 to learn more.


Symptoms of morcellation-induced cancer

Posted on Friday, November 6th, 2015 at 1:41 pm by Williams Hart   

Women who have undiagnosed uterine cancer may be at a higher risk of those cells spreading if they undergo medical procedures in which power morcellators are used. These instruments can cause additional harm by releasing concealed cancerous cells in early developmental stages during the process of breaking up fibroids or other growths. By releasing these cancerous cells, morcellators allow them to grow in new and dangerous areas of the body where they would not have otherwise spread so quickly. Morcellators may actually advance cancers from early stages to later stages.

Women are at a particularly high risk of developing uterine cancer as a result of morcellator procedures. A few symptoms to watch for after this type of procedure are:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Swelling of the abdomen or the pelvis
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting, which may occur after menopause or between monthly periods
  • Weight loss

Other symptoms include back pain and nerve issues if the tumor affects organs or bones such as the spinal cord.

If you or a loved one suffers from cancer that was spread by power morcellators, consult with the legal team at Williams Hart to learn about your legal options. Call us today at (713) 352-7071.


Ethicon power morcellator lawsuits will be consolidated

Posted on Tuesday, October 20th, 2015 at 12:53 pm by Williams Hart   

Following dozens of lawsuits alleging a link between Ethicon Inc.’s power morcellators and the spread of uterine cancer, a federal judicial panel has created a federal docket in the District of Kansas in order to consolidate these cases and accelerate the process of reaching settlements.

One example of a pending lawsuit involves a woman from Colorado who had a laparoscopic procedure in which the surgeon used a morcellator manufactured by Ethicon to treat her uterine fibroids. Soon after her procedure, she was told that one of her fibroids contained leiomyosarcoma. She has been in radiation treatment and chemotherapy, which she claimed to be disabling and painful.

The plaintiff complained that even with Ethicon’s knowledge of the new evidences and safety hazards, the manufacturer still failed to design their power morcellator product in a way that would lessen the risk of uterine cancer.

If your health has been suffering after the use of a power morcellator during your surgery, consider speaking with our legal team at Williams Hart to build a case against the liable party. Call us today at (713) 352-7071.


Smoking increases schizophrenia risk

Posted on Friday, July 17th, 2015 at 12:01 pm by Williams Hart   

A study published in The Lancet Psychiatry reveals a possible link between cigarette smoking and the development of schizophrenia, Forbes reported on July 13.

Researchers from Kings College London learned that daily smokers were two times more likely to develop schizophrenia. They also found that smokers were more likely to have psychosis onset about a year earlier than those who don’t smoke.

The study did not illustrate the causality of smoking as a risk factor of schizophrenia. But because psychotic illnesses have been associated with increased dopamine in the brain, researchers believe that nicotine’s effect to the brain’s dopamine level could trigger the disease.

Individuals are oftentimes prescribed with Risperdal to manage symptoms of schizophrenia. However, this drug has also been associated with adverse health effects, such as gynecomastia and diabetes. If you think taking this drug has caused you or your loved one harm, you might be eligible to take legal action against the manufacturer involved. Speak with us at Williams Hart by calling (713) 352-7071 today.


FDA invites opinion on a birth control with serious side effects

Posted on Thursday, June 25th, 2015 at 3:28 pm by Williams Hart   

Although Essure is the only non-surgical FDA approved permanent birth control method, it is accompanied by a handful of serious risks. One risk is of unintended pregnancy that may result in ectopic pregnancy, an emergency condition when pregnancy occurs outside the uterus. In addition to other reactions like pelvic pain, the FDA recently added perforation of the uterus or Fallopian tubes as a serious and long-term potential side effect.

According to a report by KHOU 11 News on June 24, the FDA plans to hold a hearing about the device, as eight deaths have been reported in association with this birth control method. None of these have yet been proven to have resulted from the birth control, however. The hearing will invite opinions from supporters and critics of the device.

One person who used Essure has since had it removed – after years of back pain, debilitating cramps, heavy bleeding, and weight gain. The surgery cost her $20,000. She has lost 30 pounds since her surgery and her life is looking up now, but she is still suing Bayer.


Reports from Pfizer show possible links between Zoloft and birth defects

Posted on Friday, June 19th, 2015 at 3:12 pm by Williams Hart   

A document from a Pfizer drug-safety official showed that a scientist already alarmed Pfizer execs last year about the link between its anti-depressant drug Zoloft and birth defects, and proposed some changes to the drug’s safety warning, Bloomberg Business reported on June 9.

Apart from the document, a 1998 paper showed that Pfizer researchers acknowledged several reports of birth defects associated with mothers’ use of Zoloft. These documents will make it even more difficult for the company to ward off lawsuits filed by parents whose children were harmed by the drug.

To date, the pharmaceutical giant has to defend against more than 1,000 claims alleging Zoloft’s risk of newborn abnormalities, such as heart malformation and neural tube defects.

If you believe your baby’s congenital defect has been a result of Zoloft use, a lawyer at Williams Hart is willing to help you understand your legal options in seeking justice and compensation. Call us at (713) 352-7071, and tell us more about your situation.


Postmenopausal bleeding a sign of uterine cancer

Posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 at 3:17 pm by Williams Hart   

Postmenopausal bleeding, or menstrual bleeding after more than one year of finishing menopause, can indicate serious medical conditions. One of these conditions is uterine cancer, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the 4th most common cancer among American women.

Apart from bleeding during menopause, other symptoms of uterine cancer include pelvic pain, painful sexual intercourse, and watery vaginal discharge that is sometimes tinged with blood. If you are going through menopause and have experienced bleeding, or even slight spotting, consult with your obstetrician immediately to learn more about your risk of uterine cancer.

You may also be at risk of uterine cancer if you have undergone a laparoscopic procedure involving a power morcellator. If you believe your diagnosis of uterine cancer has resulted from this medical device, a lawyer at Williams Hart might be able to guide you through the process of seeking compensation through a lawsuit. Call us at (713) 352-7071 today.

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