Monsanto has a bad reputation for a wide variety of reasons, but a new federal study of their worst crime scene has provided substantial evidence of the harm this corporation is capable of producing.
Anniston, Alabama, is small town with a population of just under 23,000 people. It is also home to one of the worst examples of PCB contamination that the world has ever seen, thanks to Monsanto. The pollution from the infamous corporation's plant was so bad that it produced the largest effect on a population via a single contaminant, and Monsanto ended up having to purchase and demolish 100 PCB-contaminated homes within the area.
PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls are a group of 209 chemicals which share a common structure but differ in the number of attached chlorine atoms. PCBs are a probable human carcinogen, and have been linked to a myriad of adverse health effects, including cancers of the liver, gallbladder, brain and gastrointestinal tract. People exposed to high amounts of PCBs in the air, through consumption or through skin contact, often experience respiratory irritations, skin irritations (severe acne and rashes are common) and eye problems.
Women exposed to PCBs during pregnancy can give birth to children with severe neurological and motor-control problems, including low IQ and poor short term memory. Exposure to PCBs may also lead to disruption of key bodily systems, such as the endocrine system and the immune system.
To put it simply, PCBs are incredibly toxic. And in Anniston, this fact became desperately evident after a 16-year-old died from a brain tumor and lung cancer. Thirteen years ago, Terry Baker's death prompted a lawsuit to be filed on behalf of 20,000 town residents. Monsanto was eventually forced to pay a $700 million legal settlement.
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