Category Archives: Farmers

Qld LNP and ALP controlled by ‘Big 4’ banks

Party duopoly throw farmers to the wolves

The Queensland Government’s Farm Business Debt Mediation Act, which it is spruiking in a media release today, is a ruse to cover the fact it has completely failed to address the farm debt crisis.

“It’s another frightening example of a government putting ambulances at the bottom of the cliff,” Member for Mount Isa Robbie Katter said.

Rural Debt Chairman Robbie Katter says the ALP and LNP have denied farmers a development bank suitable for primary production to alleviate crippling debt levels of much of the industry

Robbie is warning people not to be fooled by the Government’s ‘solution’ which comes into play next month. “A farm debt mediation mechanism doesn’t solve the debt problem, it just means that when the farmer is finally completely crippled by debt, they can shut their business efficiently. It’s a complete slap in the face to the entire agriculture industry,” Robbie said.

In March this year, the government and LNP refused to support KAP’s Rural Debt Bill, which would have addressed the unsustainable levels of farm debt, which is bringing Queensland’s agriculture industry to its knees.

“Through the Rural Debt and Drought Taskforce that I chaired in this parliament, it was clear that the debt problem is massive and that a significant response from the Government was required to address it,” Robbie said.

“In 2015, I thought the Palaszczuk Government was serious about identifying solutions to address rural debt issues with the formation of a Rural Debt and Drought Taskforce. I was wrong. Just like the opposition they prefer to leave it to the market. This approach has delivered a declining sugar industry, a decimated dairy industry and some of the most expensive gas and electricity in the world.”

“Governments intervene in markets all the time. Between the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, there’s about $5 billion worth of low-interest loans to help stimulate the industry. However, when it comes to supporting agriculture, and particularly family enterprises, the Government doesn’t want to touch it”.

“Instead of supporting KAP’s Rural Debt Bill, which was created off the back of extensive investigation and consultation, and would have made a real difference to fixing the rural debt problem, the government pushed through its mediation act to make it look like it was doing something,” Robbie said.

“It’s a disgrace. It’s just another example of how little the major parties care about anything that’s happening outside of Brisbane.”

Qld Govt at war with itself over $7m cattle property purchase

More jaundiced reporting from the ABC about Springvale Station west of Cooktown that the Queensland Environment Department bought for $7 million to prevent sediment runoff into the ocean.

The only problem is that bogus data was used to base the purchase, when in fact the Government’s own previously published scientific data clearly showed Springvale Station was responsible for less than one per cent runoff into Princess Charlotte Bay.

See story Cairns News: ‘Lakefield National Park contributes more reef runoff than all combined cattle properties in the catchment’

from ABC

In what could be a storyline from the satirical TV series Yes Minister, the Queensland Government has gone to war with itself.

Key points:

  • The Mines Department is considering an application to mine a river on state-owned land for gold and tin
  • The Environment Department bought the land in a bid to halt sediment reaching the reef
  • The two departments are in a legal fight in the Land Court

The ABC has learned one Queensland Government department has lodged a legal objection to another department over a plan to mine a river on state-owned land.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is taking on the Department of Natural Resources and Mines in a stoush in the Land Court over Springvale Station on Cape York.

The Queensland Government bought the massive cattle station for $7 million last year.

The idea was to stop, or at least reduce, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sediment from the property washing from the West Normanby River into the Great Barrier Reef.

But it seems — in the best traditions of Yes Minister — the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing.

At the same time the Environment Department was buying the property to prevent damaging sediment flowing down the river, the Natural Resources Department was considering an application to mine the river at Springvale Station for gold and tin ore.

Now the case is before the Queensland Land Court.

In its objection, the Environment Department argues “the public right and interest will be prejudiced by the proposed mining activity as it will directly and negatively impact the biodiversity values for which the property was acquired”.

It says research suggests that “Springvale Station is the source of approximately 460,000 tonnes of sediment runoff every year, which is around 40 per cent of all gully erosion-derived sediment in the Normanby River catchment”.

The West Normanby River joins the eastern branch of the river before draining into Princess Charlotte Bay and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

“The proposed mining activity will likely further destabilise the alluvial and colluvial soils of the West Normanby River and increase soil erosion and sediment loss,” the Environment Department said in its objection.

“… The long-term economic benefits of enhancing environmental outcomes through this acquisition will far exceed the economic and employment benefits of this small mining operation.”

The department also warns sedimentation blocks light for coral, smothers marine organisms and reduces coral and seagrass growth.

It states the northern section of the reef has been significantly affected by coral bleaching, with “high levels of coral mortality”.

“For those corals to have the best chance of recovery, the water quality needs to be as good as possible,” the Environment Department wrote.

Endangered plants, animals on land: Environment Department

The State Government has already begun removing cattle from Springvale Station in a bid to reduce sediment run-off.

The Environment Department said it would invest a substantial amount of public money for conservation work on the property to further reduce run-off, with the price tag set at $30,000 a hectare.

The department also said the property was home to endangered or vulnerable flora and fauna species, including the northern quoll, red goshawk, brown antelope orchid and spectacled flying fox.

In a statement to the ABC, the Environment Department said it was the Government’s “intention that Springvale Station be declared a nature refuge”.

But it said such a declaration would “not necessarily preclude the commencement of activities proposed under the mining lease application”.

A spokesman for the Land Court said the objection to the proposed mine would be heard in August.

Lakefield National Park contributes more reef runoff than all combined cattle properties in the catchment

The $7 million purchase of Springvale Station at Lakeland last year by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to prevent sediment runoff onto the Great Barrier Reef derives from incorrect data and is a waste of a viable, developed grazing property.

The adjoining property owner and former Mayor of Cook Shire, Graham Elmes said Lakefield National Park, not Springvale, according to government data was responsible for 86 per cent of sediment runoff into Princes Charlotte Bay.

A spokesman for EHS Minister Stephen Miles said Springvale “reportedly was responsible for up to 40 per cent of gully-derived sediment in the Normanby catchment, which is a significant upper catchment draining onto the northern Great Barrier Reef.

“The Queensland Government aims to manage and conserve Springvale’s significant biophysical values, and contribute to improved water quality in the Normanby River catchment by reducing sediment runoff from the property.”

Former Cook Shire Mayor Graham Elmes says Springvale Station was bought under false pretences by the Qld Environment Dept. Lakefield National Park contributes 86 per cent of runoff onto the Great Barrier Reef, according to government data

In late March Mr Elmes met with EHP staff at Lakeland where he pointed out, according to a report from the Cape York Local Marine Park Authority, that 86 per cent of tested sediment levels found on the bed of Princes Charlotte Bay originated from the Bizant River system that runs through the destocked, 5370 square kilometre Lakefield National Park and not from the Normanby River catchment.

He said gravel pits and 40 kilometres of gravel road running through the Kalpowar section of the national park were major sources of soil sediment runoff.

“After every wet season the national parks have to re-sheet their gravel roads with thousands of tonnes of gravel extracted from their own open gravel pits on the park,” Mr Elmes said.

“Where do they think the runoff from the pits and all this gravel from the roads ends up after floods?

“The report says the Marrett River that runs through Kalpowar puts 19 per cent and the North Kennedy 21 per cent into the Bizant River that contributes another 46 per cent of sediment that empties into Princes Charlotte Bay.”

The report states runoff from Springvale Station and the 11 other cattle properties in the(Normanby) catchment above the coastal plains represents only nine per cent of the total sediment found on the bed of Princes Charlotte Bay.

“This nine percent of runoff is spread across 11 former or existing cattle properties including Springvale in the Normanby catchment,” Mr Elmes explained.

“If it is averaged across all 11 places then Springvale’s runoff contribution is less than one per cent.”

Section 1.3.6 of the report says: ‘…riverine delivered sediments from the upper catchment (ie sourced from above the coastal plain) only represent about nine per cent of the sediment present on the bed of Princes Charlotte Bay.’

It goes on to say: ‘It is clear that a great deal more research is required to unravel the interaction with sediment delivered to the near shore zone in Princes Charlotte Bay by tidal currents, and sediment delivered to the reef in flood plumes…’

The spokesman said the former cattle station would be destocked of cattle by October 31, 2017, when it would be declared a Nature Refuge under the Nature Conservation Act.

“The longer-term intent is to dedicate the property as a higher class of protected area as a conservation park. This process will be subject to a negotiated native title outcome through the Cape York Tenure Resolution Program,” he said.

“Implementation of a program of works to manage and reduce erosion on the property will commence in 2017.

“Research does indicate that sediment flowing into Princess Charlotte Bay comes from a range of sources including Lakefield National Park, which is a natural source.

“We know feral animals can cause soil erosion, which is why the Queensland Government has feral animal control programs in place in national parks including Lakefield.

“These activities aim to reduce the impacts of hard hoofed pests, particularly cattle and pigs that adversely impact on watercourses, and subsequently sediment erosion.”

Mr Elmes said: “The government’s own data shows they have wasted a lot of money buying this property and now they want to turn it into a conservation park, which most locals are dead against.

“It has over 4000 acres of cultivation paddocks and large dams suitable for irrigation and I don’t know where the so-called biophysical values are on the property.

“We agreed they could turn it into a nature reserve which allows cattle grazing but we do not want another huge area of wasteland which will be an enormous problem to manage.

“We will see the shire lose more of its small rate base and lose 4000 cattle from the local economy.

“When I showed staff at the meeting these are sediment figures from their own data, there was stunned silence.”

The 2013 study by the Cape York Local Marine Park Authority titled ‘An Empirically-based Sediment Budget for the Normanby Basin’ was funded by the Federal Government as a part of Caring for Our Country Reef Rescue Initiative.

Contributed

Etheridge Shire Council trying to nominate shire with United Nations for back door heritage listing

Geo-park plan rings alarm bells for North Qld graziers

A plan to declare the entire Etheridge Shire in Far North Queensland as a ‘global geo-park’ is ringing alarm bells for local graziers, AgForce said today.

AgForce Northern President Russell Lethbridge, who lives in the Etheridge Shire, said cattle production was the predominant industry in the shire and graziers wanted to know how a geo-park declaration would impact on their businesses.

Primary producers in Etheridge Shire are suspicious of a plan to nominate the shire for a possible UN world heritage listing. Mayor Warren Devlin(front), Cr’s Norm Garsden; Troy Barnes; Will Attwood reportedly support the application.

“The Etheridge Shire Council has announced they will seek a geo-park registration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), but haven’t properly explained what it all means and how it will affect development opportunities,” he said.

“Graziers have seen how the Queensland Government have used UNESCO as a justification for tougher vegetation management restrictions, so are understandably suspicious about a plan to declare a UNESCO ‘Global Geopark’ over an area of some 40,000 square kilometres.

“AgForce has been inundated with calls from Far North graziers who want to know how a geo-park registration would impact on what they can and can’t do on their land, while there are also concerns about how this will affect the Gilbert River irrigated agricultural precinct.

“This issue is generating a lot of heat and has united graziers in the Etheridge Shire like no other issue I’ve seen before, so it is important the council and proponents of the geopark explain the motivation behind the proposal.

” Mr Lethbridge said AgForce had responded to the groundswell of concern by organising a meeting at the Georgetown Town Hall from 2pm on Friday 16th June to discuss the geo-park proposal.

“All landholders in the Etheridge Shire are invited to attend to tell us their views about the geo-park proposal, and to ask questions of council representatives,” he said.

“Graziers currently have more questions than answers and the meeting is an opportunity for everyone to learn more about the proposal and for proponents to outline their case.

“AgForce is committed to getting all the information to landholders so they can better understand the issue and make an informed decision based on all the facts.”

Prawn farmers slugged $36m to clean up LNP/ALP free trade disaster

Queensland prawn farmers, stricken by white spot virus, deliberately introduced into the farmed prawn industry by Chinese importers will be slugged with a $36 million levy by the federal government to clean up the disaster of free trade.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce has not ever once mentioned that the flawed LNP ideology of free trade which demands Asian produce be allowed into Australia, has caused the obliteration of the $358m prawn industry.

The sacrificial altar of free trade, a policy of the LNP and ALP, has killed off the Queensland farmed and wild prawn industry. Katter warns it will eventually decimate Far North Qld wild stocks

Today he said the industry would be charged with a levy to clean up the LNP mess.

Chinese prawn importer, Sino, has had its import licence revoked and will face serious criminal charges for breaching Australian quarantine laws.

Sino and four other companies allegedly were caught providing samples of non-infected green prawns for biosecurity testing by the Federal Agriculture department when their imported consignments were known to be infected.

Four more foreign importers are in the government sights allegedly for deliberately breaching biosecurity rules.

Today the Queensland Government has confirmed white spot virus has been found in wild prawns in Moreton Bay off Brisbane and now cannot be stopped.

KAP Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter said, “I congratulate the Government of the Australia with their free trade policies and no quarantine.

“Our prawn industry has been sacrificed on the altar of free trade.”

Union to push for determined Mareeba meat workers

A determined display of solidarity among a large number of Mareeba residents who want jobs at the local Steggles chicken factory was the outcome of a packed public meeting on Monday night.

More than 160 previous and prospective employees demanded they be employed in preference to the large number of 417 Holiday Visa and 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) workers employed at the factory.

Organised by the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union Assistant Secretary Ian McLauchlan and  Mareeba AMIEU delegate Fred Brunjes the rally was addressed by the  General Secretary of the Queensland Council of Unions, Ros McLennan.

Steggles, owned by Sydney company Baiada, was accused by workers of employing temporary visa workers in preference to locals.

Mr McLauchlan told the meeting that the large roll-up at the racecourse venue was ample proof Mareeba people wanted to work.

More than 50 potential employees lined up to fill out Steggles work application forms which would be handed to the company’s HR department at the Mareeba plant.

Solidarity among Mareeba workers demanding an end to 457 visa workers taking their jobs at the local Steggles chicken abattoir. front: Ros McLennan, Secretary Qld Council of Unions; Ian McLauchlan ,Assistant Secretary AMIEU; Fred Brunjes, local AMIEU delegate; Member for Cook, Billy Gordon

“We are fair dinkum, we want to work but local people who hand in applications at the security gate say the forms never make it to the office,” Mr McLauchlan claimed.

“Somehow they get lost between the gate and the HR department.”

The Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter said he has been long opposed to the 200,000 overseas workers arriving in Australia every year on 457 visas.

“‘They are taking our jobs and undermining our pay and conditions,” Mr Katter said, apologising for not attending, due to commitments in Parliament.

Addressing the Steggles situation, he asked: “Who will you take as a worker, the bloke overseas used to working for $5 a day and 60 hour week and has a deportation order at your discretion?; or would you take an Australian who you have to pay a fair days pay for a fair days work?”

Member for Cook Billy Gordon told the meeting he remembered the problems of getting a job when he was a young man growing up in the Mareeba area.

“I picked mangoes at local farms and did other farm jobs years ago working around the area and being a young Blackfella in those days it was hard to get work when I was just out of school,” Mr Gordon said.

“It inspires me at the turnout here tonight with people standing up for families.

“There is 25 per cent youth unemployment here and it irks me there are companies out there not prepared to do the right thing by the community.”

Mr McLauchlan said Steggles job application forms were available at Mr Gordon’s office and urged applicants to fill them out then hand them to AMIEU delegate Fred Brunjes.

Mareeba Shire Council had been invited to the meeting, but Mr McLauchlan said he was unaware of any representatives in attendance.

He said Baiada senior management had agreed to meet with the union in Brisbane on Thursday to sort out the issues.

‘Heroic’ farmer dies in jail after serving just one year of a 24 year sentence for shooting a government tree policeman

A Moree district farmer has told Cairns News other farmers in the north of NSW claimed they wanted to ‘do a job’ on NSW Environment Department tree policeman, Glen Turner, for ‘harassing them to the point of distraction,’ about tree clearing on their freehold properties prior to his death.

Last week the 82 year old farmer convicted of Mr Turner’s murder in July 2014, died in hospital as a result of a heart attack after being rushed from Long Bay Prison where he was serving a 24 year sentence.

This NSW Environment Dept tree policeman Glen Turner, was shot by a distressed wheat farmer for stopping him from clearing regrowth on his wheat farm and threating to prosecute him in 2014

Cairns News, at the time of Mr Turner’s death received several comments from NSW readers claiming that an extremely ‘officious’ Mr Turner ‘ got what he deserved,’ and that Mr Turnbull was a ‘hero.’

Cairns News does not condone the murder of any person, however when a farmer’s livelihood is under threat by unlawful policies of a corporation namely the NSW Government, then Mr Turnbull’s actions could be forgiven by food producers.

The article below was published by Cairns News the day after Mr Turner was shot:

“It had to happen sooner or later. A prying government official was shot dead on private property by an angry landowner yesterday(July 30, 2014) near Moree in the north of New South Wales.

This 79 year old farmer, Ian Turnbull was driven to murder by the UN-driven unlawful vegetation policies of NSW Govt Inc. Mr Turnbull died last week while serving a 24 year sentence.

He was found on farmland assessing the actual number of trees that allegedly had been ‘illegally’ cleared by dryland wheat farmer, Ian Turnbull, aged 79.

The now deceased Environment Department employee, aged 51, had pushed Mr Turnbull too far.

A nearby neighbour told Cairns News soon after the shooting that Ian Turnbull was well respected in the community but had become embroiled in a long-running dispute with the State Government over vegetation management laws.

The neighbour said the elderly farmer “had enough” and was in effect forced into a corner because he was unable to clear his land to protect his livelihood.

Mr Turnbull has been taken into custody by police and will appear in court in September.

This festering sore infecting all farmland in the nation has been allowed to creep through the agricultural industry since former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard forced his Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 onto the states.

Labor state governments had a ball. They amended their environment acts allowing their socialist regimes to halt forthwith any new agricultural development or vegetation management under the guise of biodiversity protection.

The ALP/Green nexus had a win of nuclear proportions, prosecuting farmers for the most minor infringement of their native vegetation statutes. Their victory in sterilising farmland was delivered to them by a supposedly conservative Liberal National Party Government.

The Queensland socialists had waited for years to take revenge on the National Party’s token squattocracy.

The owner of one of Queensland’s largest family run cattle operations, the late Graham Acton was fined $110,000 for allegedly clearing brigalow regrowth without a permit.

Hundreds of others were mercilessly hounded by ‘compliance officers,’ usually disgraced, former police officers whose bent was to trespass on private land and apply entrapment to catch hapless primary producers whose only indiscretion was to protect their property by clearing regrowth and noxious woody weeds.

Reminiscent of scenes of a Gestapo interrogation in Nazi Germany, a refusal by a landowner or any person present on the property to answer questions from these thugs resulted in immediate arrest and prosecution.

This is the modus operandi of a Labor Government and the dumbed-down city populace of the Sunshine State want to elect another bunch of international socialists?

It should be noted the present Queensland Liberal National Party Government disbanded the ‘tree police’ in 2013.”

 

Katter’s bank bill opposed by Liberals and Nationals; Christensen to cross floor

The Liberals and Nationals are trying every devious trick in the book to stop this banking inquiry bill from getting passed in federal parliament. Renegade LNP Member for Dawson in Central Queensland, George Christensen, confirmed today he will cross the floor to support Bob Katter who has led the charge against the unlawful and unethical conduct of banks.  Every small businessman and farmer in Australia will benefit from this inquiry.

The People of Australia’s Commission of Inquiry (Banking and Financial Services) Bill 2017

The bill provides for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry. The Bill invests the People of Australia’s’ Commission of Inquiry with the full powers of a Royal Commission as laid out in the Royal Commissions Act 1902. The Commission of Inquiry will inquire into unethical, unlawful and improper conduct in the banking, financial services and related sectors.

LNP Federal Member George Christensen will cross the floor of parliament to support Katter’s bill for a bank  Commission of Inquiry

Bob Katter presents his bank bill today

The purpose of the Bill is to fully expose and shine the light of public scrutiny on the unethical and unlawful conduct/practices in the banking and financial services industries and to put forward recommendations for reform.

Particular concern has been raised in relation to the conduct of service providers in the banking, superannuation, insurance and other financial services sectors.

Responding to numerous media reports, whistleblower disclosures and cases raised with Members of Parliament and Senators, there have been 37 reviews and inquiries into banking and financial services since 2010. However, none of these past reviews/inquiries have had the level of powers of a Royal Commission. These past reviews/inquiries have often not been independent, have been politicised and have had limited scopes of inquiry. This has led to little, or no, reform to the sector, nor justice for the victims. Nor has this led to the spotlighting of the malpractices, shortcomings and injustices of current financial practices.

The Commission of Inquiry will have the full powers of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 plus additional powers related to protecting whistleblowers. The Commission of Inquiry will report to the Parliament, as opposed to a Royal Commission which reports to the Executive arm of Government.

Read the documents:

  1. Explanatory Notes

2. Copy of the bill

Liberals join Labor to let banks screw farmers even more

Liberals join with Labor at the behest of the banks to kill Robbie Katter’s Development Bank bill

LNP VOTE WITH LABOR TO KILL RURAL DEBT REFORM

State Member for Mount Isa Robbie Katter has slammed the LNP for supporting Labor to vote against a real solution to address rural debt.

In a parliamentary session that went into the early hours of Wednesday morning the KAP’s Rural and Regional Adjustment (Development Assistance) Amendment Bill was denied a vote in the House through the blocking of a motion put forward by Robbie Katter.

“The motion was put forward to enable the Parliament to adequately consider and vote on a solution that would’ve seen a new lending mechanism established to address the shortcomings in QRAA’s current activities”

“Each member of the crossbench voted to allow the motion to be heard but it was the major parties who didn’t allow it. It’s unbelievable that they would so blatantly work together to stifle a minor party Bill.”

“With so much public disappointment in partisan politics it’s ironic that the only thing the major parties can agree on is limiting consideration of minor party Bills”

Mr Katter highlighted the amount of consultation and analysis that went into the KAP’s Bill and expressed his disappointment at the behaviour of the major parties.

“The LNP not only supported Labor’s Bill over the KAP alternative, they actively worked to restrict debate and consideration of the KAP Bill”

“The LNP and Government used every excuse in the book to avoid undertaking a difficult reform. They even used banking regulations as an excuse. Do they forget where here to change laws and regulations? If I told my constituents that I wasn’t prepared to undertake legislative reform because of a regulation I wouldn’t deserve to represent them”

“For me, the genesis of this Bill was during the term of the Newman Government, which shows that this has taken years of stakeholder discussions, industry forums, community and local leader’s input,” Mr Katter said.

“Through the Rural Debt and Drought Taskforce that I chaired in this parliament it was clear that the debt problem is massive and that a significant response from the Government was required to address it”

“However what the Parliament has achieved is an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. A farm debt mediation mechanism doesn’t solve the debt problem it just ensures that when the problem has finally caught up with a producer they can shut their business efficiently”

KAP’s legislation was designed to address not only the cattle industry, but also the viability of our rural towns.

“We need ways of stimulating the economies of the rural towns that rely on agriculture. Rather than using blunt funding programs to create short term employment, why not invest in reconstructing the core industry so longer term organic growth can be delivered”

Mr Katter expressed disappointment at the Government and Opposition’s “hands-off” approach to supporting a key Queensland industry.

“In 2015, I thought the Palaszczuk Government was serious about identifying solutions to address rural debt issues with the formation of a Rural Debt and Drought Taskforce. I was wrong. Just like the Opposition they prefer to leave it to the “market”. This approach has delivered a declining sugar industry, a decimated dairy industry and some of the most expensive gas and electricity in the world.”

“Government’s “intervene” in markets all the time. Between the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency there’s about $5 billion worth of low interest loans to help stimulate the industry. However when it comes to supporting agriculture, and particularly family enterprises, the Government doesn’t want to touch it”.

“The rural community right throughout the State should be angry that a significant proposal to benefit people doing it tough and earning a living in regional Queensland would be stymied and watered down by both major parties.”

 

Monsanto working with EPA concealing deadly pesticide

The EPA May Have Been in Bed With Big Pesticide for Years

By Charles Pierce, Esquire – 20 March 17

The miracles of the discovery process, part infinity.

There is, at the moment, a massive lawsuit against the Monsanto company regarding Roundup, its most popular pesticide. The company is being sued by citizens who maintain that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is responsible for their cancers. On Tuesday, the judge overseeing the case unsealed some of the documents that have been filed related to the case, and nobody comes out clean—not the company and, sadly, not the EPA, either.

From The New York Times:

The court documents included Monsanto’s internal emails and email traffic between the company and federal regulators. The records suggested that Monsanto had ghostwritten research that was later attributed to academics and indicated that a senior official at the Environmental Protection Agency had worked to quash a review of Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, that was to have been conducted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The documents also revealed that there was some disagreement within the E.P.A. over its own safety assessment. In one email unsealed Tuesday, William F. Heydens, a Monsanto executive, told other company officials that they could ghostwrite research on glyphosate by hiring academics to put their names on papers that were actually written by Monsanto. “We would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and they would just edit & sign their names so to speak,” Mr. Heydens wrote, citing a previous instance in which he said the company had done this.

Bloomberg has focused in on one particular phone conversation that makes nobody look good.

The boast was made during an April 2015 phone conversation, according to farmers and others who say they’ve been sickened by the weed killer. After leaving his job as a manager in the EPA’s pesticide division last year, Jess Rowland has become a central figure in more than 20 lawsuits in the U.S. accusing the company of failing to warn consumers and regulators of the risk that its glyphosate-based herbicide can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “If I can kill this I should get a medal,” Rowland told a Monsanto regulatory affairs manager who recounted the conversation in an email to his colleagues, according to a court filing made public Tuesday. The company was seeking Rowland’s help stopping an investigation of glyphosate by a separate office, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, that is part of the U.S. Health and Human Service Department, according to the filing.

The good people at DeSmog Blog have a solid review of the curious history that the EPA has with glyphosate, about which the EPA seems curiously ambivalent as regards classifying it as a carcinogen.

For example, why did the EPA determine in 1985 that glyphosate should be classified as a group C carcinogen — possibly cancer-causing in humans but lacking sufficient studies of humans and animals — only to reverse that decision six years later? Did it have anything to do with Monsanto’s influence over the agency, or did new studies emerge that cast doubt on previous conclusions? The latter seems less likely considering the fact that the bulk of independent research has reached the same conclusions about the existence of a probable link between Roundup’s glyphosate and cancers. Another question that these documents could finally answer is why the EPA has been constantly at odds with the majority of the scientific community over the potential dangers of glyphosate. If, in fact, Monsanto was submitting ghostwritten research to the agency, which then failed to do its own testing, that might explain why the EPA has never found a link (beyond the original determination in the 1980s). The answers to those questions may appear during the ongoing trials against Monsanto and as more documents are released from the trial.

This behaviour seems bizarre at best, and ethically dubious at worst, and it happened under the stewardship of the previous administration. I am not optimistic that things will improve under Scott Pruitt, the new EPA administrator, whose campaigns back in Oklahoma were into Monsanto for considerable dough. The discovery process can be a wonderful—if terrifying—thing.

Source: www.sosnews.org

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