Pattern of Denial: Corporations Hide Pesticide, Consumer Product Risks

From pesticides to consumer products, manufacturers are known to go to great lengths to limit and control what the public knows about the safety of their products. Recent incidents in Europe and the United States underscore some of the ways corporations wield their power at the expense of consumer safety.

A Heavy Corporate Hand Suppressing Product Safety Information

In Europe, EU regulators charge that pesticide manufacturers failed to disclose the results from a series of brain toxicity studies. The omissions were described as “outrageous,” leaving regulators to conclude that “non-disclosure is a problem that is not rare.”

Meanwhile in Mississippi, emails unsealed in cancer litigation against Johnson & Johnson detail how Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier hand-picked a team of scientists researching the safety of talc-based products like Johnson’s Baby Powder. According to the emails, J&J was able to influence the researchers to the extent that they rewrote their executive summary. In one case, the FDA chose to forgo a cancer risk warning label on talc-based powders based on one of the industry-commissioned reports.

In addition, industry lobbyists rely on such reports to exert pro-business pressure on the FDA. Emails like those unsealed in Mississippi highlight how the efforts are launched, how they are bankrolled, and who has a hand in delivering the final reports to regulators.

“This is just another example of industry not being transparent about where the science is coming from,” Peter Doshi, a University of Maryland professor who specializes in the drug approval process, told Insurance Journal. “Consumers rely on the FDA to make independent decisions on the benefits and harms of products they use every day. Submitting ghostwritten materials subverts that process.”

EU Learns Too Late About Product Dangers

In Europe, The Guardian reported that pesticide manufacturers failed to report nine medical studies examining developmental neurotoxicity (DNT) in chemicals commonly found in pesticides. Researchers say full access to all available scientific information is critical for them to make informed decisions about product safety.

Changes in brain sizes, delayed sexual maturation, and reduced weight gain in laboratory rat offspring were among the findings in the suppressed studies. Pesticides identified in the new study include abamectin, ethoprophos and pyridaben, as well as the fungicide fluazinam. The chemicals are used on crops such as tomatoes, strawberries, potatoes, and aubergines.

“Brains are unbelievably complex and so central for us being humans, and damage to brain development is immensely costly to societies,” said Dr. Axel Mie of Stockholm University. “So, it’s really important for us to make sure that the chemical products we use are not damaging the brains of our kids and grandchildren.”

Pesticide dossiers should “include a full and unbiased report of the studies conducted,” Dr. Mie added.

What Is Developmental Neurotoxicity?

DNT occurs when toxic chemicals disrupt or kill neurons, which are key cells that transmit and process brain and nervous system signals. Damage can occur at any time during the development of the central nervous system, from birth through adolescence.

Symptoms may appear immediately after exposure or be delayed. They include:

  • Limb weakness or numbness
  • Memory loss
  • Vision loss
  • Headache
  • Cognitive problems
  • Behavioral problems
  • Sexual dysfunctions

Treatment for developmental neurotoxicity includes eliminating or reducing exposure to the substance(s) followed by symptomatic and supportive therapy. An individual’s prognosis depends on the length and degree of exposure and the severity of neurological injury. While many individuals recover completely after treatment, in some instances, neurotoxicant exposure can be fatal.

How We Help Victims of Pesticide Exposure

With a national presence and a wealth of experience prosecuting pesticide exposure cases, Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel has battled corporate giants on behalf of individuals like you for 20 years, aggressively fighting to hold them responsible for failing to keep workers safe. If you have suffered catastrophic injury or cancer caused by Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer or other harmful chemicals, we can help.

What are my chances?

That’s the first question everyone asks. The truth is it’s impossible to know. But we can tell you this. Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel has what it takes to fight against big corporate interests and win. That’s why we’ve taken more mesothelioma trials to verdict than any other firm. And that’s why we’ve recovered more than $1.3 billion for clients like you. Do you think you have a case? Contact us now to speak with an attorney.

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