In this edition, recorded on May 16, 2018, we interview three of the producers of INVENTING TOMORROW, an inspiring documentary that features six passionate teenage scientists from Indonesia, Hawaii, India and Mexico, creating cutting-edge solutions to the world’s environmental threats-right in their own backyards. It follows them, as they eventually journey to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018.
(L-R) Producer Diane Becker, director Laura Nix and producer Melanie Miller
Laura Nix is known for her films The Yes Men Are Revolting (2014) as well as The Yes Men Fix the World (2009), The Light In Her Eyes (2011) about Houda al-Habash, a conservative Muslim preacher, founded a Qur’an school for girls in Damascus, Syria when she was just 17 years old. Her work in film goes back to 1997.
Melanie Miller is known for her work on Detour (2013), and Alaska Is a Drag (2017). Her film work goes all the way back to 2001 as associate producer on the Liars Club
Diane Becker has films going back to 2006, including Five Came Back(2017), Homegrown: The Counter-Terror Dilemma (2016), Legion of Brothers (2017), Jaco (2015) and many more.
(L-R) Melanie Miller, Laura Nix, Jose Manuel Elizade Esparanza, Fernando Miguel Sanchez Villalobos, Sahithi Pingali, Shofi Latifa Nuha Anfaresi, Jared Goodwin, Diane Becker, Jesus Alfonso Martinez Aranda
Project ENEV063T: Bangka’s Tin Sea Sand-Fe3O4 as a Removal of Heavy Metals in By-Product of Tin Ore Processing (above): Intan Utami Putri Shofi Latifa Nuha Anfaresi Banka, Indonesia
Project EAEV008 – An Innovative Crowdsourcing Approach to Monitoring Freshwater Bodies
above: Sahithi Pingali in Bangalore, India
Project EAEV018 – Arsenic Contamination through Tsunami Wave Movement in Hawaii: Investigating the Concentration of Heavy Metals in the Soil from the 1960 Hilo, Hawaii Tsunami
Jared Goodwin is from Hilo, Hawaii
Project CHEM059T: Photocatalytic Ceramic Paint to Purify Air
Fernando Miguel Sanchez Villalobos Jesus Alfonso Martinez Aranda Jose Manuel Elizade Esparaza above: in Monterrey, Mexico
When not producing films, Diane, Laura and Melanie can be found promoting science in other ways.
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.