“The blood run out of their noses and out their mouths…. They’re trying to cover this stuff up. But it’s not going to be covered up, because I’m going to bring it out in the open for people to see” (Shutmatt 3). Sounding like a biblical scene or one from a sci-fi horror movie, Wilbur Tennant’s farm was a strong and real case of the impact of fluoropolymers and the unregulated chemical industry.
“The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare” by Brian Shutmatt has so many levels of shock and horror. I find the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act to be particularly disturbing. “Under the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, the E.P.A. can test chemicals only when it has been provided evidence of harm. This arrangement, which largely allows chemical companies to regulate themselves, is the reason that the E.P.A. has restricted only five chemicals, out of tens of thousands on the market, in the last 40 years” (12).
With globalization’s neoliberal policies of free trade, privatization, and deregulation, companies, including DuPont, 3M, and so many more giant powers are able to reap the benefits of these policies solely to make more profit. They use their agency to overrule small court cases. Even large cases, such as the fine DuPont had to pay for its concealment of knowledge of PFOA’s toxicity and presence in the environment, only cost pennies compared to their profit.
“The fine represented less than 2 percent of the profits earned by DuPont on PFOA that year” (12). With the seemingly innumerable profits corporations have, one wonders why that money is not used to create a better world.
Such megacorporations reap the benefits of unaware Americans as well. “Corporations could rely upon the public misperception that if a chemical was dangerous, it was regulated’ (12). But, unfortunately, as this article explains, the E.P.A. and other local and federal government environmental agencies have and use little control over mega-corporations.
Whether the government does not provide enough funding for environmental agencies or whether economic policies simply promote privatization and deregulation, policy must be adjusted for the environment to be salvaged.
Millennials and Generation Z hold true voices when it comes to the future we will live in. We must use our capacity to share ideals of sustainable practices, transparency, and regulation to make this world a safer and healthier place for us and for all mankind.
Like Rob Bilott, we must fight for “the right thing,” even if it takes decades. Bilott’s devotion to uncovering the truth and making substantial change serves as inspiration to us all to find something we are passionate about and take the time and resources to fully develop an argument and change the way citizens look at the world.
Like Rob Bilott, EarthJustice works to represent class actions and citizens affected by the local impact corporations have on the environment and health. EarthJustice is a resource citizens can use to get legal protection and aid in uncovering truths corporations try to hide and in enacting policies and laws to fix the issues.
“How the West Was Lost: Ranchers Devastated by Fossil Fuel Boom” by Emily J. Gertz similarly reiterates the way the government currently works in relation to energy corporations.
Quoting Walter Merschat, a Casper-based geologist, Gertz writes, “‘The underlying reason is that they [Wyoming environmental officials who failed to take the boom’s impacts on groundwater seriously] were tied to the state,’ he said, ‘and the state is tied to the economy, and the economy is tied to oil, coal, and gas wealth, and they were told, “Don’t rock the boat”’” (Gertz 7).
As I grasped from both articles, often times local communities are tied to corporations so much so that the government, economy, and everything else related to the town’s functioning relies on corporations.
In Wyoming, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and so many more places, corporations can control the people, the government, the education, and the laws of the community. This power and control must be challenged so that innocent Americans, such as L.J. and Karen Turner, can continue living the American dream of opportunity.
Without a healthy environment, life cannot sustain itself. Soon enough, our natural resources will be consumed, and only then, it seems, when the damage has been done will the government make corporations liable and responsible.
I also chose to read “GM Seed Firm Monsanto Dismisses ‘Moral Trial’ as a Staged Stunt” by John Vidal. With my interest in sustainable fashion, Monsanto’s cotton seed developments and patents have been of much controversy within the industry. With illness, cancer, deformities, and all sorts of health and environmental issues being blamed on these “unnatural” seeds and products to grow them, this article is very relevant in my studies.
The True Cost, a recent documentary on sustainable fashion, focuses partly on the controversy of GMOs and organic cotton and Monsanto’s impact in Texas and India. Without explicitly blaming Monsanto, the documentary pairs images of deformed children and adults dying of cancer with Monsanto commercials and footage of farmers spraying Monsanto pesticides on the patented seeds.
It is unlikely, I suspect, that Monsanto’s chemicals and seeds don’t impact humans and the environment. Like DuPont, tobacco companies, and so many more industries, I suspect that Monsanto has similar studies and data that they have neglected to share with the public that prove the detrimental consequences of its products.
I find this topic hard to research because of the many biases that exist, and this article certainly documents Monsanto’s opinion on the “Moral Trial.”
“‘It is a staged event, a mock trial where anti-agriculture technology and anti-Monsanto critics play organisers, judge and jury, and where the outcome is pre-determined,’ wrote Martha Burmaster, Monsanto’s director of human rights” (Vidal 2).
And while this may be true, I still subliminally find it to be false. Whenever I read a Monsanto statement, my mind automatically reads it in an uncanny tone, giving me goosebumps and questioning its validity. I expect that the language used is meant to calm readers and trick them into thinking the statements are true and accurate, when in fact they may not be.
In the coming weeks and months, I hope that this “Moral Trial” being held in The Hague will provide a forum for possible victims of Monsanto to safely express their experiences. Additionally, I hope it will help develop international law, bring more international attention and coverage to the controversies, and serve as a basis for the fight forward.