Monsanto, Blackwater, Pesticides, and Spies

Someone sent me a link to an interesting article about Blackwater, the well-known defense contracting firm in the Iraq war (now called Xe Services LLC). They’ve diversified into corporate Intelligence. Said The Nation article by Jeremy Scahill:

“Over the past several years, entities closely linked to the private security firm Blackwater have provided intelligence, training and security services to US and foreign governments as well as several multinational corporations, including Monsanto, Chevron, the Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and banking giants Deutsche Bank and Barclays, according to documents obtained by The Nation. Blackwater’s work for corporations and government agencies was contracted using two companies owned by Blackwater’s owner and founder, Erik Prince: Total Intelligence Solutions and the Terrorism Research Center (TRC).”

The person who sent it quoted a line from the article: “One of the most incendiary details in the documents is that Blackwater sought to become the “intel arm” of Monsanto, offering to provide operatives to infiltrate activist groups.”

I guess now we better watch for spies reporting our objections to Roundup in Sutro Forest discussions,” the sender adds, tongue in cheek.

NEUROTOXINS AND THE EPA

On a more somber note, someone also sent us a story from online publication Care2 about a $23.5 million jury award to the Ebling family whose childrens’ neurological health was destroyed by toxic pesticides. The pesticide was Diazinon, and in 1994, it was legal for household use. According to the article by Jessica Pieklo, the family lived in a treated apartment for a year, during which their small children developed neurological problems and had seizures. The family moved out as soon as they could, but it was too late. Their now 20-year old daughter has a developmental age of two years old; their son, not so badly affected, still “struggles academically and socially.” The Eblings, now divorced, sued the apartment owner and management company.

The Environmental Protection Agency did not ban the pesticide for household use until 2004 – ten years later. Clearly it either had inadequate information or it did not do enough to protect people.

Stories like this make us appreciate even more the pesticide-free space we have on Mount Sutro. UCSF tells us no herbicides have been used on the mountain since 2008; and none in the Aldea campus since September 2009. Thanks, UCSF. Let’s keep it that way.

Edited to Add:

GARLON IN THE GREENBELT

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We’ve just learned, unfortunately, that Rec & Park has no such compunctions about pesticides in the Interior Green Belt (managed by the Natural Areas Program). It’s using Garlon on the stumps of trees – presumably chopped down because they were hazardous. We don’t see the point of preventing resprouting here. Especially with toxic herbicides. This is near where the Mount Sutro Stewards plan to open a new trail through the Interior Green Belt, starting work on October 2, 2010.

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