Life moves too quickly- in wonderful and tragic ways.
Just last weekend we were in Nitro, West Virginia, beginning a new documentary on Monsanto’s shameless exploitation of the land and the human lives that inhabit it. We spoke with many residents of the town and found that there was a strong divide between the people who felt like they’d been taken advantage of and ignored, versus the people that felt that Monsanto was responsible for the food on their tables and the roof over their heads for over 60 years.
I was deeply impacted by two people in particular, a husband and wife, who were part of a class action lawsuit against Monsanto.They’ve both had cancer and have lost many family members.. they owe tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses so far this year, with more chemo treatments and hospital visits looming in the near future.
While interviewing them in their home, I asked if they thought anything would happen with the lawsuit.
They said, “I think there’s a very slim chance that we’ll get anything.”
I asked, “If you do- how much would they have to give to make this okay for you and the town?”
The wife responded, “I don’t know if any amount of money could make it right- the lives lost, and the Dioxin that is still in the soil and homes to this day.. I’m not sure that people would want to let Monsanto into their homes to check for the poison, anyways. If they do find Dioxin in our homes, they’ll be worth nothing. People don’t have enough money to purchase new homes, to start over.”
Today Monsanto settled the class action lawsuit, offering to pay $90,000,000.00 in reparations.. which gives me joy, and hope! Not because I feel like Monsanto is finally confessing to their crimes, or that this symbolizes the end of their corrupt practices. I know that Monsanto was responding to the gravity of this lawsuit and that this was just an intelligent business decision: to pay as little money as they could get away with to silence these people- and that’s exactly what this is- a gag in the mouths of the sick, the homeless and the grieving.
They cannot take credit for my joy.
It comes from my small glimpse into these people’s lives- to see their suffering and the fear of their increasing debt load, and then to see it temporarily lifted from their shoulders. To know that Bonnie and Mike are home tonight, together, celebrating.
But there’s tomorrow- and the fact that Mike’s face will continue to be deformed from the invasive and radical reconstructive surgery, that Bonnie still has a rare and deadly form of breast cancer, the medications, the loss of their siblings, their parents and the friends they made in high school. The poison in their furniture, walls and the floorboards beneath their feet- the poison which has lain dormant in their children their entire lives.
Wonderful things have happened today, yet they’re tragic. We should not have to celebrate the fact that Monsanto is finally agreeing to clean the poison from the soil that these people live off of, from the homes that they built and have cared for for generations and the bodies that have already been ravaged by illness and sorrow.
We have to keep caring, challenging and fighting! Don’t forget the losses these people have encountered, and that they only represent a tiny degree of what the people of our country experience every single day because of Monsanto and other greedy corporations.
I’m going to continue this documentary- only to show Monsanto that this will not be swept under the rug.