Not this time. I can find no evidence of having written about the bottom-feeding lawyer race to the bottom that has been going on over the weed killer Roundup.
Yesterday at Townhall, occasional columnist Angela Logomasini passed on the news that the bottom feeders seem to be moving on to something else to sue over. It's an interesting story, if you know the background that no carefully controlled study has ever concluded that Roundup (glyphosate) causes cancer, nor has any country declared it a carcinogen. Even the EPA hasn't ruled Roundup to be dangerous and you've got to know the EPA would love to regulate as much as they possibly can. Ms. Logomasini put it this way:
All these cases are built on a single, discredited hazard assessment produced by a United Nations outfit known as the International Agency for Research on Cancer or IARC. IARC classified Roundup’s active ingredient—glyphosate—as a known carcinogen despite contrary findings by most governmental and nongovernmental entities around the world.I'm sure you know what's referred to as the First Law of Toxicology, which is "the dose makes the poison," right? IARC totally ignores that. If you look into IARC rulings, it's even more bizarre. IARC places plutonium in their Group 1, the same cancer category as Chinese-style salty fish, leather and wood dusts. I think everyone considers plutonium a carcinogen; the salty fish and sawdust, not so much. They're hard to take seriously.
Yet IARC does not even attempt to determine if real-world exposures pose risks, they just consider the theoretical possibility of risk at some unspecified level.
The reason there's a feeding frenzy over suing Bayer AgroSciences, parent company of Monsanto, is that in some jury case a suit was successful and thus became a legal precedent. In an attempt at self-preservation, Bayer established a policy of just paying out on these claims, but that sent the message to the lawyers that the gravy train had arrived. All they had to do was file and Bayer would pay out.
As the money has been paying out and the number of new cases is going down, the sharks are looking for a new place to feed. They've found one. Again, to Ms. Logomasini:
As Roundup cases hopefully winds down, there are a growing number of lawsuits focused on ethylene oxide (EO) on the horizon. EO is a chemical used to sterilize more than 50 percent of the nation’s medical supplies—including masks, bandages, ventilators, and more. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency aided and abetted the trial lawyers on this one in 2016 by producing an absurd assessment on the chemical’s risk.I've long considered the EPA to be the High Priests of Junk Science, and this time it's Junk Science in the extreme. The EPA has a program called the Integrated Risk Information System or (IRIS) (pdf warning on the link), and IRIS assigned a safe exposure limit of 0.1 parts per trillion for EO. For perspective, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) says this is the equivalent of taking one drop of water and spreading it into 200 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Must be powerful stuff, right?
Here's where the EPA really screwed the pooch on this subject. See, your body produces EO at levels 19,000 times greater than the EPA's 0.1 ppt. All day, everyday. Further, since this is part of the intricately regulated biochemistry of our bodies, the body clears EO quickly, with a half life (that is, levels falling by 50%) of 42 minutes. If the EPA was right, people would be dropping like flies from the EO in their own bodies, inhaling it in the air, and more.
Since the EPA declared it such a ridiculously potent poison, the lawyers have followed.
Despite these realities, EPA’s air quality office used the IRIS number in a 2018 report that suggested people in communities near medical sterilization plants might face elevated cancer risks. Sensationalist news headlines followed, whipping up panic in several communities leading local and state governments to shut down several plants during 2019 and into 2020.The problem, I'm sure you can see, is that if the EPA doesn't reclassify EO, the lawyers may get lucky and get into a court with a dumb enough jury to award money, which will trigger a Roundup-like feeding frenzy that could shut down all the medical production that relies on it. Instead of hurting one corporation (and the millions that depend on Bayer), they'll hurt everyone dependent on the medical facilities that sterilize with EO. Which hurts everyone, especially in the days of the Rona.
These closures exacerbated medical supply shortages (pdf warning) just when the novel corona virus crisis started. Fortunately, in March and April of 2020, the Food and Drug Administration was able to get states and localities to open all but one of the facilities to help address shortages, but this issue is far from over.
Typical lawyer attempt at trolling.