The New York Times reported last month that Congressional Republicans have clandestinely inserted a provision into the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reauthorization bill that will give Monsanto permanent immunity from liability for injuries caused by its toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The long awaited and grievously needed bill is now in the Conference Committee for reconciliation with a companion Senate bill. The so-called “Monsanto Rider” would shield the chemical colossus from thousands of lawsuits by cities, towns, school districts and individuals, who have been injured by exposure to PCBs.
PCBs are known human carcinogens and potent endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with physical, intellectual and sexual development in children. PCBs persist in the environment and bio accumulate in animals and humans. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), children exposed to PCBs can suffer damage to their immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems. Two recent publications from U.S. EPA and the National Institute Environmental Health Science Children’s Center at UC Davis report that PCBs can disrupt early brain development, by hijacking the signals that promote normal neuron branching which increase the risk of brain damage, including autism. Between 1935 and 1977, Monsantowas the exclusive manufacturer of PCBs in the U.S. Congress banned the manufacturing of PCBs in 1979 over concerns about its potential to cause severe health and environmental injury.