My letter to Scotts Company in regard to Home Depot Roundup sales

 

No genetically modified
My letter to Scotts Company
in regard to Home Depot Roundup sales

By Nathan Batalion, PhD, Naturopath, Triathlete

(Healingtalks) “I have always respected Home Depot for its environmental policies and therefore appreciate your taking my the time and attention to view my correspondence seriously. I am a local contractor who believes in shopping responsibly. I also appreciate the letter from Ed Billmaier, director of Scotts Consumer Service directed to Mike Mahler.

I am aware that Scotts Company LLC, with billion in lawn care product sales, has been the exclusive distributor of Roundup, apparently since 1998, and has been also working with Monsanto on a Roundup Ready turf grass since a little before then. I have heard that Roundup is presumably a biodegradable herbicide that binds to the soil and that the EPA has labeled it with but a “caution” classification. However, this brings up the following issues of much greater concern to me.

First since Scotts obviously has a sizable financial stake in this issue, I think Home Depot would be wiser to get a broader spectrum of opinions. This could  engender further and solid objectivity on this very important issue. May I recommend reviewing the material I will be faxing you and I will aso see if I can get you in touch with Caroline Cox, editor of the Journal for Pesticide Reform who is one of the leading experts on this subject. I can inquire about other experts to give more opinions for your making a sound business decision on Round Up.

Secondly, my concern is not primarily with biodegradability but rather with toxic levels and the overall heath and reverberating environmental impacts. Roundup’s main ingredient has been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in a study published by the American Cancer Society. Some have suggested it is the number one herbicide now implicated in farm-worker illnesses. In my home state of New York, Monsanto was sued by the Attorney General for recklessly claiming their product was “safe and environmentally friendly.” In France it was sued for similarly claiming the product is biodegradable and leaves the soil “clean”, which scientific studies do not bear out. They lost both the French and New York State cases and appeals. Since much the same has happened in NY, this is not something concerning far away overseas affairs where different laws may apply.

Thirdly, as to seeking comfort and refuge via the EPA labeling, I think that was reasonable to say a couple of decades ago. I have friends in Washington DC and things have changed there dramatically, These friends have kept me abreast on how the Bush Administration has unprecedentedly downsized the EPA’s  and ham-stringed regulatory effectiveness, as it did with the financial industry (resulting in near-catastrophic results for our American economy). The Bush Administration originally had private meetings with Monsanto executives to forcefully push their sales agenda without adequate safety testing these products to protect the public, as the literature I am faxing reiterates. The Bush Administration also pushed the closely related notion that genetically modified foods (Roundup Ready) are essentially equivalent to regular foods, requiring no safety testing or labeling at all – even though the EPA’s own scientists substantially disagreed. In short such labeling decisions were political, not science-based and offer little comfort.

My fourth concern is the most paramount. By creating Roundup-Ready genetically modified crops, they can tolerate a vastly increased (several times more) herbicide load that is one of the most growingly polluting factors in our ground waters and rivers. Alarm signals were put out by the World Health Organization in regard to this specific impact of increasing Roundup use. Related to this is also thrust of the major players in the biotech seed industry have been monopolizing staple food seeds (including via buying out competitive companies and destroying their heirloom seed stocks) – the foundation of life in earth – and creating only Roudup-ready genetically modified seeds and the like. Farmers cannot (by contract) have these seeds independently tested for safety, nor can they be saved or replanted except as directed by Monsanto. This ownership of the foundation pillars of life by such means represents a gravest ever political, human health and environmental threat faced by our planet and civilization.

I cannot think of a single greater positive environmental step, dwarfing any energy-saving sales of HD, than taking Roundup fully off of Home Depot’s shelves. It would attract an avalanching explosion of positive consumer response that would dwarf the comparative size of any profit lost from Roundup toxic product sales. It would also, in my opinion, be the truly responsible approach sending a positive message of the high-minded, moral, consumer-oriented stance of the executive leaders of Home Depot, a firm I have always deeply respected. It would tell the herbicide industry that business cannot be conducted as usual at the huge expense of  our health, our children’s health, the health of the consumer, and of farm workers and our environment.

Thank you again for taking this issue not only to heart but with the utmost of seriousness.”

Nathan Batalion, ND

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