The story of Anniston is a cautionary tale. Monsanto’s internal documents, many of which are being posted here for the first time for the world to finally see, uncover a shocking story of corporate deception and dangerous secrets. As The Washington Post revealed [Monsanto Hid Decades of Pollution” (front page, Jan. 1, 2002) and “In Dirt, Water and Hogs, Town Got Its Fill of PCBs” (Jan. 1, 2002).], Monsanto hid its advanced knowledge of the health effects and vast PCB pollution problems from the public and – most importantly – from its closest neighbors, the people of Anniston. While the documents provide a glimpse into Monsanto’s corporate culture, a spokesperson for a Monsanto spin-off corporation, Solutia, has repeatedly asserted that the company is “really pretty proud of what we did” and that Monsanto “did what any company would do, even today.”
The Monsanto-Solutia public relations propaganda being used to counter these revelations is replete with assertions that press coverage has been unfair, based on comments from its documents “taken out of context.”
Now, the world can read the story of Anniston, in context, and in Monsanto’s own words.
The Monsanto documents posted on this website surfaced from a series of lawsuits brought by Anniston residents, including Owens v. Monsanto, 96-CV-440, (N.D. Ala.). The Owens case settled in April 2001 for $43 million dollars. The current case Abernathy v. Monsanto, CV-2001-832 (now called Bowie v. Monsanto), Etowah County Circuit Court, is in trial now. Besides questions of who will pay to clean up Anniston, these court cases, and the documents emerging from them, raise a more contemporary question:
If Monsanto hid what it knew about its toxic pollution for decades, what is the company hiding from the public now?
This question seems particularly important to us as this powerful company asks the world to trust it with a worldwide, high-stakes gamble with the environmental and human health consequences of its genetically modified foods.
If you go there, you will find a collection of related stories about chemical pollution.
Prepared by Francis Koster Ed.D.