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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 snowgirl ( 978879 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @11:27AM (#38902647) Journal

    You're an idiot.

    To clarify, I don't think that the herbicide 2,4,5-T is safe, or not dangerous. The point is that calling it "an ingredient in Agent Orange" is designed for emotional rhetoric, not reasonable inquiry.

    Forget that it was used in Agent Orange, which was an unhealthy mix of numerous toxic chemicals, and rather, focus on the specific effects of 2,4,5-T itself... like "the herbcide 2,4,5-T, which is a known carcinogen".

    This avoids hype and emotional rhetoric, while at the same time educates the person about how the substance is dangerous in its own right, without resorting to mentioning that it was just one part of a large concoction of toxic chemicals. ... and now that I've explained my joke, it's no longer funny...

  • by commodore73 ( 967172 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @11:43AM (#38902777)
    As an American, I don't think we can ever repay our debt to Viet Nam. They're still dealing with the toxins and other leftovers now (especially the children), and they can't sue anyone. The things that are done in the name of our country, our ethnic heritage, our historic religion, our "democracy", our capitalism...sometimes it's hard to live with ourselves.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @11:44AM (#38902793)

    From what I understand, Ron Paul believes that any laws passed by the congress by the people, for the people, should be enforced. He has never stated that any laws that the public deems necessary should go unenforced in the name of the free market. The kind of rhetoric you blindly parrot is what's damaging our nation, not people like Ron Paul. If you honestly believe that Ron Paul is on the same side of the equation as Monsanto, you've been horribly misled and should probably take a break from CNN and Fox News for a while to detox.

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

    by prefect42 ( 141309 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @11:52AM (#38902883)

    A couple of points:
    I thought the claimed reduction in use of pesticides with GM crops was widely questioned. http://www.pan-uk.org/archive/Projects/Food/gmobriefing.html [pan-uk.org]
    Some people object to GM partly on the basis that crops end up being patented. While I agree that's tangling two issues, that still could be a reasonable objection to GM in its current form.

  • Ambulance chasers (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Squidlips ( 1206004 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @12:01PM (#38902993)
    Now that the Ambulance Chasers are involved, it is hard to tell what is fact and what is fiction
  • As an American, I don't think we can ever repay our debt to Viet Nam.

    No, you can't. However, you can come close by using the same chemicals in your country, so at least you can share the pain.

  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @12:08PM (#38903107) Journal

    Free Market includes Courts to address grievances exactly like this. In a Free Market, a company such as Monsanto would and could be sued in perpetuity for hazards it created either intentionally or unintentionally. If bad enough, the entire company could be liquidated to pay for damages, leaving shareholders nothing. Additionally, in MY version of the free market, the CEO (all of them) and anyone sitting on the Board of Directors would be criminally liable for any criminal activity condoned or sanctioned by them.

    In this case, if found guilty, Monsanto would be forced to pay for cleanup, health monitoring and medical bills of all people damaged by their product or the process used to create that product.

    Free market works if the right application is applied. Don't blame the free market when we have no such thing to blame. There is no "free market", because we have government involved in too many places telling businesses how to do business.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @12:22PM (#38903293)

    They used the land, they made a product there, they made a profit. Now the people who lived or worked there suffer and die and your "legal thinking" precludes redress?

    The money went into the coffers of Monsoto the death and misery should be absorbed by someone else?

    I not talking negligence or guilt I just think economic crimes like this one always deserve swift and clean restitution.

  • by snowgirl ( 978879 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @12:29PM (#38903387) Journal

    Okay you're really an idiot. It is one of the two active ingredients [va.gov] in agent orange. Jesus fucking christ people are stupid ... it is half of agent orange ... you don't even produce evidence that water is one of the ingredients of agent orange, you just speculate to make your joke. And you call this fucking hype? Seriously?

    Nothing I said was about the content of their argument, but rather just the presentation of the argument. The article explains NOTHING about how dangerous 2,3,4-T is, and simply replies upon "it's a part of Agent Orange" to assert the harmfulness of the chemical.

    If the article had included any of what you included as information (that it's one of two chemicals in Agent Orange, and that it breaks down into TCDD which is crazy harmful when heated) then there would have been no issue at all with the article.

    This is not a substance argument, it is a FORM argument, and thus attacking me with "but it really is dangerous!" is completely beside the point, because that's not what I was arguing. I knew 2,3,4-T was harmful, the point was that the article doesn't establish WHY it is harmful in its own right.

  • by forkfail ( 228161 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @12:42PM (#38903581)

    You can't have it both ways.

    Courts are by definition a part of the government. And courts are supposed base their decision on law, not Solomon-esque declarations of wisdom off the cuff.

    You argue that the courts are a required part of the free market.

    You then say that free markets don't currently function properly because there's too much government involved in the process.

    Your argument is absolutely contradictory to itself.

    Aside from this, it also ignores the fact that the folks with the money can always influence decision makers, including the justices or judges of a court. So, no, in your case, the little guys suing the big guy would be even more screwed.

    Finally, arguments like this always ignore the fact that power abhors a vacuum. Government may be in some ways fundamentally evil, but it is the bulwark that our societies build against even more evil (private and unaccountable) entities filling that niche. Taking government away will not stop power from being exercised; all it will do is ensure that the people of the land have no protections against that power.

  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @12:48PM (#38903665)

    What good is a court to address grievances when your kids were already born deformed, you've been burned by the agent, and your crops have all failed due to some careless disposal of toxic chemicals? Will you have the money to pay for the court fees before judgment is handed down? Will your kids ever be supported enough by the company to make up for the fact that they were born fully disabled and in permanent pain? If the company is liquidated, who pays for the medicals bills?

    Libertarians never think these things through. To them, a check in the mail is the most that they see necessary to right a wrong. Somehow, I'm convinced that behind every hardcore libertarian is a white male who hasn't had a debilitating accident happen to them, or hasn't gotten shafted hard by someone more powerful than them.

  • by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @01:36PM (#38904295) Homepage Journal

    Out here in the real world the rich can afford better lawyers than we can; y'know, /free market/.

  • by Dhalka226 ( 559740 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @01:46PM (#38904417)

    All the people complaining about companies not being 'persons' in regard to free-speech rights should be careful [. . .] at most, you could find out who made all the decisions and go back and sue their estates.


    The idea that if a corporation isn't a person that it's nothing at all is a false dichotomy. A corporation is a legal construct. We can attach whatever we want to that construct (and technically we do -- corporations exist explicitly to serve the public good in most states, as an example). If we want to cease the illusion of it being a person and yet still attach legal liability for its actions, we can do that.

Lend money to a bad debtor and he will hate you.