Eco News Round Up August 2018

  • 31st August 2018

Is this the end of Monsanto?

The agriculture bio chemical giant has been found liable for a terminally ill man’s cancer. The former groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, won $289m in damages in a landmark case with the jury determining that Monsanto Roundup weed killer caused his cancer and that the corporation failed to warn him of the health hazards from exposure.

Johnson’s lawyers showed documents that prove Monsanto has known for decades that Roundup could cause cancer. They presented internal emails from Monsanto executives that showed the corporation repeatedly ignored experts’ warnings, sought favourable scientific analyses and helped to “ghostwrite” research that encouraged continued usage.

This case sets a precedent for the thousands of similar lawsuits pending against the company, with another Roundup cancer trial is scheduled to begin in Autumn could this mean a wakeup call for other companies using Monsanto products? UK DIY and garden store’s Homebase and B&Q have already begun to review the sale of Roundup, together the two companies have nearly 600 stores. Wilko is another store which is reviewing the product.

Past evidence shows that Monsanto’s questionable ethics play their role in conducting testing whether products are safe for humans from rBGH to the lies peddled about GMO’s. Yet they continue to thrive, especially with the merger of Monsanto and Bayer, the pharmaceuticals and chemicals giant.   

The Privatisation of Public Spaces

If you’ve noticed more and more of the parks in your city being closed off to the general public to hold ticketed events such as musical festivals and concerts, you’re not alone.

Recent research has shown that access to parks, especially those in London, are being restricted by corporate events. The findings which were presented by the Royal Geographical Soceity’s annual conference show that there has been a massive increase in the amount parks are being rented out. The reason for this is for good reason, to boost revenue to fund key services, by councils under pressure to generate income under austerity.

It’s the parks in London which have been worse hit, not surprisingly, with the majority of events being held in the capital, but arguably they are the parks which are needed by the public the most. Parks and green spaces improve quality of life and provide spaces for community events as well as homes for birds and other animals. In London especially, a bustling metropolis, being able to access a park is a welcome break.

The cost of using these public spaces is not only to humans, but to animals and their habitats too. There have been less sightings of birds and other creatures in parks where events are held. Displacing these animals so they are forced to find other places to live, which may not be suitable. The constant footfall also causes degradation of the ground, without the proper time for the ground to recuperate, many parks resemble muddy deserts.  

Dr Andrew Smith, the researcher who presented the findings, said financial gain was being prioritised over community benefit. “You could link it to a creeping privatisation – it seems publicly palatable, but the effect is just damaging,” he said. 

Bees ‘Nicotine like’ addiction to pesticides/

British researchers have found more evidence that Bumblebees not only enjoy consuming certain pesticides, they experience addiction when they do. This could be a problem as these chemicals have been linked to bees dyeing.

The researchers gave bumblebees in ten colonies a choice of two different food sources. The source that contained neonicotinoid pesticides caused the bees to behave much like a human with a substance addiction. Neonicotinoids hold a very close chemical relationship to nicotine and target similar nerve receptors that nicotine targets in humans.

Neonicotinoids are a highly controversial group of chemicals that have recently been the target of a near-total EU ban, but are nevertheless still the most widely used pesticides in the world. This poses a problem for the bees; an 18 year study has found evidence linking neonicotinoid pesticides with large-scale population extinctions of wild bees.