March Against Monsanto in Akron, Ohio (April 8, 2011).
Photo Credit: Bill Baker/Flickr
I was recently informed by a former California public health employee, that CalPERS, the state’s pension and health care fund, the largest in the nation, has invested $136 million in Monsanto.
As a California activist committed to healthy communities, I see this investment as a huge conflict of interest. For its health plan subscribers, the CalPERS mission to “advance the financial and health security” of the participants does not align with the detrimental effects of the toxic herbicide Roundup, Monsanto’s number-one product.
The day after finding out about this ill-advised investment, I sent a letter to CalPERS urging it to divest from Monsanto. It hasn’t responded.
Concerned Californians should be outraged by this investment by CalPERS in Monsanto and the harm that inevitably impacts the very retirees CalPERS is responsible to protect.
We listed several items for the board to review which will hopefully initiate a decision by CalPERS to divest from any investment in Monsanto.
In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the World Health Organization’s cancer agency, deemed that glyphosate, Roundup’s key ingredient, is a probable carcinogen. In addition to this, the California EPA decided that glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) like Roundup must be labeled as containing a carcinogen.
Roundup has been proven to cause liver disease at levels lower than what is allowed in our food. One out of 10 Americans now suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Due to the spraying of this herbicide on crops as a drying agent and on GMO crops for weed control, glyphosate is now found in the majority of our food, streams, rain, tapwater and even our urine. It’s also been detected in breast milk, vaccines and pregnant mothers.
Glyphosate is a patented antimicrobial, causing gut dysbiosis and inflammation, which can lead to diabetes, obesity, autoimmune diseases and dementia.
Glyphosate-based herbicides are also endocrine disruptors, which can lead to miscarriages, infertility and infant death. The U.S. has 50 percent more babies who die on the first day of life than all of the industrialized nations combined.
Glyphosate-based herbicides are also neurotoxins, which can lead to learning disabilities, mental illness, addiction, depression and even acts of violence. 1 in 6 U.S. children have developmental delays.
Glyphosate also acts a chelator, which causes mineral deficiency, which can lead to cancer.
According to the California State Department of Public Health, 1,382,200 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2014, and 155,920 Californians are diagnosed with new cases of cancer every year. This is equivalent to nearly 18 new cases every single hour.
Monsanto’s products have also been shown to kill bees. One third of our nation’s food is dependent on bees, many of which are now on the endangered list. Without California’s agriculture industry, the United States will be unable to feed its own citizens.
It’s a matter of national security to divest from a company that manufactures chemicals that kill bees.
It is critical to inform and educate all investors in Monsanto of the dangers of glyphosate in their food and the environment. In the past, my organization, Moms Across America, has sent over 100 letters to the top hedge fund investors of Monsanto requesting divestment. Investing in a company that causes tremendous harm to our country is immoral and self sabotaging.
We understand Monsanto was once considered a safe investment. But times have changed and new studies and discoveries have emerged. These new developments do not bode well for Monsanto. They are legitimate reasons for divesting.
Monsanto’s Roundup and hundreds of other brands containing glyphosate will soon be labeled as carcinogens in California’s Prop 65 list, according to a newly passed California state ruling.
An EPA staffer, Jess Rowland, has been accused of colluding with Monsanto to downgrade carcinogenic effects of glyphosate. And Monsanto has been accused of ghostwriting the Roundup cancer studies, which show “safety.”
New studies show that Roundup causes liver disease and glyphosate-based herbicides are decisively linked to cancer in Argentina. Another study shows endocrine disruptors, such as those found in Roundup and glyphosate-based herbicides, are the major contributing factor to the drastic decline in the quality of men’s sperm.
In a groundbreaking turn of events, Moms Across America has been informed that the EPA has confirmed that the National Toxicology Program will assess the final formulation of glyphosate-based herbicides and the EPA will take its assessment into consideration for its review and decision on whether to renew or revoke the license of glyphosate.
Investing in a company that sells toxic products is counter to CalPERS’ mission. CalPERS should fully divest from Monsanto immediately.