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Biotech Medicine The Courts Science

In Small WV Town, Monsanto Faces Class-Action Suit Over Agent Orange Chemical 185

eldavojohn writes "Agricultural biotechnology company Monsanto is now at the receiving end of a lawsuit from representatives of anyone who lived in the small town of Nitro, WV from 1949 on. This suit alleges that Monsanto spread chemical toxins all over town — most notably the carcinogenic dioxins. The plant in question produced herbicide 2,4,5-T, which was used in Vietnam as an ingredient for 'Agent Orange.' [Note: link contains some disturbing images; click cautiously.] From the article: 'Originally the suit called for Monsanto to both monitor people's health and clean up polluted property. The court rejected the property claims last year, leaving just the medical monitoring.' Strange that the suit is only allowed to address the symptom and not the root cause."
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In Small WV Town, Monsanto Faces Class-Action Suit Over Agent Orange Chemical

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  • by uigrad_2000 ( 398500 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @11:51AM (#38902871) Homepage Journal

    In defense of the article: Agent Orange was a 50:50 mix of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D.

    In your defense: 2,4,5-T is only moderately toxic, as long as it is not contaminated with TCDD.

    It was legal in the U.S. to use it on crops until 1970. Even the 1970 ban had an exception: It could be used on rice crops.

    In 1985, it was finally completely outlawed.

    Basically, the lawsuit is saying that even though Monsanto had the right to make the chemical, sell the chemical, and use the chemical until 1970, the damage done to the land is bad enough that they should be sued anyway.

    I think that the sentence should require the current Monsanto CEO to purchase a ticket to use a time machine, and go back and tell the previous CEO not to pursue 2,4,5-T.

  • by thrich81 ( 1357561 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @11:53AM (#38902895)

    A quick check on Wikipedia shows that 2,4,5-T made up about 50% of Agent Orange (the other 50% was another herbicide), and 2,4,5-T is considered the more hazardous of the two, so in this case the reference as a component of Agent Orange seems quite legitimate and so is linking the emotional connotations of Agent Orange to the compound in question.

  • by anotheryak ( 1823894 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @12:40PM (#38903553)


    First of all, Agent Orange was not a chemical weapon. It was a nasty chemical and it injured my father-in-law and his children--my wife included--but that was collateral damage from what was intended as a defoliant. It was intended to clear tree cover and/or destroy food crops (though that was more Blue than Orange).

    The really nasty chemical in Agent Orange was actually a contaminant; ,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. It was not supposed to be there at all.

    Agent Orange was supposed to be a 50:50 mixture of (2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxy)acetic acid and (2,4-dichlorophenoxy)acetic acid.

    I agree with snowgirl, the article title was for emotional impact. It's like saying "KNOWN CHEMOTHERAPY INGREDIENT "NORMAL SALINE" FOUND DUMPED NEAR SCHOOL!"

  • I grew up in Nitro (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bryan_Casto ( 68979 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @12:43PM (#38903595)

    The sad part is that this is barely news in WV. Oh, there have been numerous lawsuits over the years challenging each of the companies mentioned above for various abuses, often with commercials and mailers asking you to contact Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe, attorneys at law or some such nonsense. I moved away six years ago and I still get mailers today for class-action suits from my time there.

    I played baseball at the parks across Viscose Road from the industrial park mentioned in the story. My mom worked in Nitro along that same road where there was an EPA Superfund cleanup site for Fike Chemical. They found all kinds of junk there, including hydrogen cyanide and methanethiol. There was also a tremendous tire warehouse fire about five years ago near the industrial park mentioned in the story. The story goes on and on, and has ever since the nitrocellulose plant was built in 1917 for World War I.

    It's unfortunate, but coal and chemicals (and medical services for those dealing with coal and chemicals) are the only kind of work that is generally available in that area. It provided a good living for the time, but left a pretty awful legacy now that those jobs are packing up and leaving.

  • by asherlev ( 2499 ) <jeffreyd@gm a i l . c om> on Thursday February 02, 2012 @12:56PM (#38903799)

    Since we're besting each other, I also have a box full of my grandfather's diaries after he found FMC(right down the street from the Monsanto plant in question) dumping barrels of cyanide in the Kanawha River in the 70's. The management threatened to kill him and his daughters.
    You're right though, it's no better now. Despite the fact that the Nitro area(don't even get me started on Manilla Creek) had one of the highest concentrations of marker cancers in the world before the plants closed down, if you say anything negative about the chemical industry in town you're immediately attacked.

  • Re:You know what ? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rary ( 566291 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @01:41PM (#38904357)

    'GMO' and 'organic' are not two mutually exclusive categories of food.

    In order to be certified organic in the United States, food cannot be genetically modified. This is true of most (although not all) countries.

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