Monsanto: making billions at our expense

Big corporations like Monsanto record billions in profits but STILL dodge their fair share, forcing everyday Oregonians to subsidize their bad behavior.

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Last week, Portland decided to sue the infamous Monsanto for contaminating waterways with polychlorinated biphenyls. PCBs were widely used as industrial insulators and electrical coolants in the 20th century, and could be found in everyday appliances like TVs and refrigerators … until they were banned in 1979 after evidence showed that PCBs cause cancer and other harmful diseases. What’s even worse is that they stick around in the environment for an alarmingly long time, harming animals all along the food chain.

Here in Oregon, PCBs are one of the most dominant pollutants in the Willamette River, and they have contaminated at least four Superfund sites. (A Superfund site is the federal designation for the most polluted sites in America.) Cleaning up polluted sites is expensive, and it’s taxpayers who are often stuck with the bill — many of the largest corporations in the world refuse to take responsibility for their messes, instead choosing costly litigation over basic obligations. Costs of cleaning polluted sites can range from hundreds of millions of dollars to upwards of $1 billion, depending on the size of the project. Portland has already spent close to $1 billion cleaning up industrial pollution in the Willamette from Monsanto and others , and there’s still a lot more to do.

For more than 40 years, pesticide-giant Monsanto was the only U.S. company manufacturing PCBs — they produced nearly 1.5 billion pounds of PCBs between 1935 and 1979. During peak production in the 1960s, Monsanto raked in $22 million a year (that’s $142 million in today’s dollars) selling the toxic chemicals, even though they were aware of how dangerous they were as early as 1938.

Monsanto made (and continues to make) a lot of money selling dangerous chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Now they’re trying get off the hook for cleaning up the damages caused by their products, claiming third parties that purchased them should bear responsibility. We know they can afford to pay: The company reported $2.3 billion in net profits last year. But we also know that accepting the bill for cleaning up contaminants would be the same as admitting to their toxic legacy — and admitting wrongdoing, especially on this scale, is not something big business is usually willing to do. That’s why it’s important that we do all what we can to hold big corporations accountable.

Unfortunately, Monsanto ignoring their pollution problems is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to large and out-of-state corporations failing to do their part. Not only do many leave behind a legacy of toxic pollution, but they’re paying lower corporate taxes here in Oregon than anywhere else in the country — and they’re just one of many large corporations to benefit from Oregon’s lowest-in-the-nation corporate taxes.

One way we can be sure to hold Monsanto accountable is to sign the petition for A Better Oregon, the campaign to make sure the largest corporations in the world do their part to pay for Oregon’s schools, healthcare and senior services.

Because if Monsanto is going to pollute our water, the least they can do is help pay for the health care costs associated with their bad behavior. Sign the petition today to hold Monsanto and other large and out-of-state corporations accountable so that we can win A Better Oregon for everyone!

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