March Against Monsanto activists gather at Pacific Coast Highway and 2nd Street Saturday. Photo by Magdalena Krutsky, courtesy of the March Against Monsanto Facebook page.
Anti-Monsanto activists in about 400 cities across the world marched against the manufacturer of the banned cancer-producing polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, on Saturday, including a march in Long Beach. Just a few days prior to the Long Beach march, the city filed a lawsuit claiming Monsanto is responsible for contaminating the the city’s bodies of water.
Long Beach environmental activists gathered at Pacific Coast Highway and 2nd Street Saturday afternoon for the fourth annual event against Monsanto, according to organizers. The group also planned to raise awareness about genetically modified food and what they called “predatory and agriculture practices” by Monsanto, a Facebook event page read.
The city filed a lawsuit Thursday against Monsanto Co., joining six other West Coast cities suing the company for similar reasons.
According to the complaint, the affected bodies of water in the city include the Port of Long Beach, Colorado Lagoon and Dominguez Watershed. PCBs can find their way to Long Beach waters during storm runoffs or when they leak causing a threat to fish and wildlife.
The city said it continues to “incur significant costs related to PCBs in its storm water and the sedimentary deposits in the Port of Long Beach and adjacent ocean floor areas,” according to a previous release.
The complaint said Monsanto was the sole manufacturer of PCBs in the U.S. from 1935 until it was banned in 1979.
PCBs were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications such as electrical, heat transfer and hydraulic equipment, in paints, plastics and rubber products, in pigments, and dyes and carbonless copy paper.
Found in bays, oceans, rivers, streams, soil and air, PCBs have been detected in the tissues of all living beings on earth. In humans, exposure can lead to cancer and affect the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, endocrine system, in addition to other health effects. It also destroys populations of fish, birds and other animal life, the complaint stated.
The manufacturer responded to a Post request for comment over the weekend, denying Monsanto's leak to any PCB molecules present in Long Beach waters.
“This lawsuit was instigated by trial lawyers who have been aggressively shopping their services to local government officials," said Scott Partridge, vice president of Global Strategy for Monsanto. "The speculative legal theories being advanced have no basis in the law, and should ultimately be rejected by the courts in California. The facts are clear: There’s no evidence that Monsanto discharged a single PCB molecule into the waters of Long Beach, as Monsanto never had a PCB manufacturing facility in Long Beach or anywhere else in California. Any PCBs that may exist were introduced by unidentified third parties or by the city itself. Monsanto takes seriously its own environmental responsibilities. But in this case, there is no valid claim against Monsanto. If the city wants to deal with these PCBs, it should seek out those who allowed PCBs into the Long Beach water.”