I am delighted to welcome back to Forthright Radio, award winning author, journalist, David Quammen. He was our guest 5 years ago after his book, SPILLOVER: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic was published. His latest book, THE TANGLED TREE: A RADICAL NEW HISTORY OF LIFE, published by Simon & Schuster came out a couple of weeks ago. And lest you think this book, being about science – the research and theorizing – isn’t something you’d be interested in – let me tell you, this recent research reveals just how bacteria become resistant to our most potent antibiotics so quickly and fatally to so many, or how Horizontal Gene Transfer not only allowed for evolution, but may explain how certain cancers develop – as well as questioning our most basic concepts of ourselves as a species and individuals. And this puts a new meaning on “Tree Huggers” and “Tree Cutters”.
David Quammen has won many awards for his books and magazine articles, including from the National Association of Science Writers, and the Society of Biology (UK) Book Award in General Biology. His work with National Geographic is particularly noteworthy, and has taken him on myriad, lengthy difficult treks, which distinguish him from most authors, such as chronicling J. Michael Fay’s 2,000 mile survey hike through the forests of Central Africa, The Megatransect.
Charles Darwin speculated on the evolution of life as a tree, with “I think” written on top.
A popular 20th century version based on Darwin’s idea of a tree of evolution. At least this one, doesn’t place humans explicitly above other species.
In the 20th century there has been a tumultuous debate as to how best to characterize the concept of evolution. Is it a tree? Is it a web? Is it a net? A mosaic?
In David Quammen’s book, Carl Woese’s work was crucial to the debate, pioneering molecular phylogenetics, using (at the time) dangerous, innovative techniques to study RNA as a basis to determine species and evolution.
After demonstrating that there was a third “kingdom”, the Archaea, different from Bacteria, Carl Woese proposed a new Tree of Life pictured above.LynnMargulis, married Carl Sagan when she was 19. After bearing 2 sons with him, she moved on. She took her second husband’s name, Margulis while making her revolutionary mark on biology. After juggling the three jobs of scientist, mother and wife, she decided to forego that last job, wife.
Her work synthesized earlier ideas, which she coined, endosymbiosis, that organelles, crucial to more complex life forms – including humans – were based on “infective heredity” by bacteria, that established essential organelles such as mitochondria, chloroplasts and centrioles.
In the first sement, we speak with researcher and author, Larry Hancock, about his very timely book, CREATING CHAOS: COVERT POLITICAL WARFARE FROM TRUMAN TO PUTIN. In our second segment, we welcomed back researcher and award winning author of the also very timely book, WHITE WASH: THE STORY OF A WEED KILLER, CANCER, AND THE CORRUPTION OF SCIENCE, Carey Gillam, to get her impressions of the historic jury verdict on August 10, 2018 ordering Monsanto to pay $289 million dollars to former Benicia School District groundskeeper, Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, for it’s negligence and acting with malice or oppression regarding their herbicides, Roundup Pro and Ranger Pro.
Following service in the U.S. Air Force, Larry Hancock’s career in computer/communications and technology marketing allowed him to become a consultant on strategic analysis and planning studies. With seven books in print, Larry Hancock’s most recent works include an exploration of long term patterns in covert action and deniable warfare (Shadow Warfare), the effectiveness of national command authority and command and control practices (Surprise Attack) and (together with Stuart Wexler) the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (The Awful Grace of God: Religious Terrorism, White Supremacy, and the Unsolved Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr.). His latest book, CREATING CHAOS: COVERT POLITICAL WARFARE FROM TRUMAN TO PUTIN, published by OR Books. Our interview ends at 32:23.
Carey Gillam is a veteran journalist, researcher and author, who has more than twenty-five years’ experience in the news industry covering corporate America. Since 1998, Carey Gillam’s work has focused on digging into the big business of food and agriculture. As a former senior correspondent for Reuters’ international news service, and a current contract researcher and freelance writer, she specializes in finding the story behind the spin–uncovering both the risks and rewards of the evolving new age of agriculture. Her areas of expertise include biotech crop technology, agrichemicals and pesticide product development, and the environmental impacts of American food production. She is currently Research Director for the nonprofit U.S. Right to Know. Her book, WHITE WASH: THE STORY OF A WEED KILLER, CANCER, AND THE CORRUPTION OF SCIENCE, is published by Island Press.
She has been awarded this year’s Rachel Carson Book Award by the Society of Environmental Journalists, as well as the 2018 Independent Book Publishers Award.
Congratulations to Carey Gillam for receiving the prestigious Rachel Carson Book Award by the Society of Environmental Journalists, as well as the 2018 Independent Book Publishers Award.
Dewayne “Lee” Johnson with his two sons.
On Friday August 10, 2018, a jury in San Francisco’s Superior Court of California rendered an historic verdict in the civil trial of Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto, finding that Monsanto’s glyphosate based weedkillers, including Roundup, caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and that the corporation failed to warn him of the health hazards from exposure. Additionally, the jury found that Monsanto “acted with malice or oppression, and that its weed killers contributed “substantially” to Mr Johnson’s terminal illness..”
The jury deliberated for three days before finding that Monsanto had failed to warn Johnson and other consumers of the cancer risks posed by its weedkillers. It ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million – $39 million in compensatory and $250 million in punitive damages. Monsanto has said it would appeal the verdict.
Johnson’s case, filed in 2016, was fast-tracked for trial, due to the severity of his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system, that he alleges was caused by Roundup and Ranger Pro, another Monsanto glyphosate herbicide.
A former pest control manager for a California county school system, Johnson, 46, applied the weedkiller up to 30 times per year.
Johnson was the first of more than 4 ,000 people suing Monsanto in state and federal courts around the country, claiming their cancers were caused by glyphosate-based Roundup. Johnson’s case was particularly significant, because a judge allowed his team to present scientific arguments. The verdict came a month after a federal judge ruled that cancer survivors, or relatives of the deceased, could bring similar claims forward in another trial. Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used herbicide.
Over the course of the four-week trial, jurors heard testimony by statisticians, doctors, public health researchers and epidemiologists, who disagreed on whether glyphosate can cause cancer.
Brent Wisner, a lawyer for Johnson, said jurors for the first time had seen internal company documents “proving that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate, and specifically Roundup, could cause cancer.”
Jurors saw internal emails from Monsanto executives that demonstrated the corporation repeatedly ignored experts’ warnings, sought favorable scientific analyses, and helped to “ghostwrite” research that encouraged continued usage.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in September 2017 concluded a decades-long assessment of glyphosate risks and found the chemical not likely carcinogenic to humans. But the World Health Organization’s cancer arm in 2015 classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
In a written statement, the company said it was “sympathetic to Mr Johnson and his family” but it would “continue to vigorously defend this product, which has a 40-year history of safe use”.
“Today’s decision does not change the fact that more than 800 scientific studies and reviews – and conclusions by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US National Institutes of Health and regulatory authorities around the world – support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer, and did not cause Mr Johnson’s cancer,” it added.
Pharmaceutical group, Bayer, completed it’s $66 billion takeover of Monsanto in June.
In this edition of Forthright Radio, originally broadcast in March 2018, and then rebroadcast in late June as the trial was about to begin, researcher and author, Carey Gillam, discusses what her years of investigation reveals about Glyphosate and how science is done in determining the safety of agricultural products.
Our guest today is veteran journalist, researcher and author, Carey Gillam, who has more than twenty-five years’ experience in the news industry covering corporate America. Since 1998, Carey Gillam’s work has focused on digging into the big business of food and agriculture. As a former senior correspondent for Reuters’ international news service, and a current contract researcher and freelance writer, she specializes in finding the story behind the spin — uncovering both the risks and rewards of the evolving new age of agriculture. Her areas of expertise include biotech crop technology, agrochemicals and pesticide product development, and the environmental impacts of American food production. She is currently Research Director for the nonprofit U.S. Right to Know. Her book, WHITE WASH: THE STORY OF A WEED KILLER, CANCER, AND THE CORRUPTION OF SCIENCE, is published by Island Press.
In his latest book, OUT OF THE WRECKAGE: A NEW POLITICS FOR AN AGE OF CRISIS, and drawing from many decades of a very interesting life in many different parts of the world, George Monbiot explores the question, how can we rebuild our society, outlining how both democracy and economic life can be radically reorganized from the bottom up.
OUT OF THE WRECKAGE: A NEW POLITICS FOR AN AGE OF CRISIS is published by Verso.
These are some of his articles cited in this interview:
Maya Dusenbery is a journalist, editor and author of the book, DOING HARM: THE TRUTH ABOUT HOW BAD MEDICINE AND LAZY SCIENCE LEAVE WOMEN DISMISSED, MISDIAGNOSED, AND SICK. It’s published by the Harper One imprint of Harper Collins. Maya Dusenbery has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and an online columnist at Pacific Standard. In 2013, she became editorial director of the trailblazing site Feministing.com. Her work has appeared in many other diverse publications from the Atlantic.com to Teen Vogue. I became aware of her work from an article in BBC.com’s Health Gap series of May 29, 2018, ‘Everybody was telling me there was nothing wrong’. Before becoming a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health.
Maya Dusenbery reveals how women receive sub-par medical care because the medical community knows comparatively less about their bodies, diseases, and too often doesn’t trust women’s reports of their symptoms.
In this edition of Radio Goes to the Movies, we speak with Bozeman resident, Christi Cooper, about her years of work documenting the increasingly powerful movement of young people, who are challenging the U.S. Government and the fossil fuel industry for violation of their Constitutional rights under the Fifth Amendment to Life, Liberty and Property.
Her film, a work in progress, YOUTH V. GOV, screens at the BZN International Film Festival on June 9 at the Willson Auditorium at 7:45 p.m. Victoria Barrett, a 19-year-old college student from White Plains, NY, who is one of 21 youth plaintiffs suing the U.S. government in the landmark constitutional climate change lawsuit, will also be attending for a discussion afterwards.
In this groundbreaking civil rights lawsuit, guided by Julia Olson, their lead attorney, 21 American youth take the US government and the fossil fuel industry to court for creating a climate emergency that threatens the future of the youngest generations.
This is not the typical climate change film. YOUTH V GOV brings a new perspective not yet explored. And in the end, YOUTH V GOV will activate youth, millennials, and adults to engage as citizens and to lean heavily on the pillars of democracy that we rely on for the future of our country and the world.
Quinn Costello, editor & co-producer of the documentary, RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE, share his thoughts & experiences in creating this joyful exploration of the “Giant Swamp Rats Are Literally Eating Louisiana”.
Hard headed Louisiana fisherman Thomas Gonzales doesn’t know what will hit him next. After decades of hurricanes and oil spills he faces a new threat – hordes of monstrous 20 pound swamp rats. Known as “nutria”, these invasive South American rodents breed faster than the roving squads of hunters can control them. And with their orange teeth and voracious appetite they are eating up the coastal wetlands that protects Thomas and his town of Delacroix Island from hurricanes. But the people who have lived here for generations are not the type of folks who will give up without a fight. Thomas and a pack of lively bounty hunters are hellbent on saving Louisiana before it dissolves beneath their feet. It is man vs. rodent. May the best mammal win.
Award winning non-fiction filmmakers Quinn Costello, Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer have traveled to many corners of the world in search of unique stories highlighting the important environmental, scientific and cultural issues of contemporary society. With the success of documentary projects as varied as PLAGUES & PLEASURES ON THE SALTON SEA, THE NEW ENVIRONMENTALISTS and EVERYDAY SUNSHINE: THE STORY OF FISHBONE they have gone on to screen their work at SXSW and Tribeca along with national TV broadcasts on PBS and the Sundance Channel. Along the way they have continued to pursue other sub-cultural documentary subjects, including: rogue economists, lucha libre wrestlers, ganja-preneurs and evangelical Christian surfers.
The filmmakers of RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE grew up in different parts of the country, but a passion for the swamp sealed their pact. Cajun Reeboks were donned and the journey began in search of the notorious “nutria rat”. Four years after first setting sail for Louisiana they emerged from the bayou covered in mosquito bites and an unwavering love for a place at the “End of the World” that is bursting with joy.
One person’s pest is another person’s pet.
Native to South America, nuria were introduced to the Bayou to be farmed for fur production during the Great Depression. Some escaped, and with no natural predators, they out-populated the native muskrats. Their numbers were kept somewhat in check until the anti-fur movement of the 1980s wiped out the fur market.
The population soon sky-rocketed to more than 25 million, literally eating the wetlands & causing tremendous environmental destruction. The state of Louisiana instituted the Nutria Control Program, which pays $5/tail.
Righteous Furs, a collective of fashion designers, prides themselves in utilizing nutria pelts. Their motto is “Save Our Wetlands. Wear more nutria.”
Efforts to create a nutria cuisine have been less successful.