WASHINGTON - January 2002 - Roughly four thousand pages of internal Monsanto documents were posted today on the website of Environmental Working Group, (www.ewg.org). The documents explain how Monsanto kept the public, especially the residents of Anniston, Alabama who lived closest to Monsanto's factory, in the dark for decades regarding what the company knew about PCBs.
This week, Monsanto and Solutia defend themselves in a lawsuit by 3,500 plaintiffs seeking compensation for health and environmental damage left behind by the company's production of PCBs in Anniston, Alabama.
On January 1, The Washington Post published an article detailing the decades-long cover-up of the PCB poisoning in Anniston. The article was based on an archive of internal company documents, many of which are posted on this website.
The Database and the Report
The documents now posted consist of internal Monsanto company documents, memoranda, meeting minutes and other communications discussing PCBs among the employees and leadership of the company. EWG obtained the documents from trial exhibits, court pleadings, and other discovery documents unearthed in the Anniston cases. The documents clearly reveal Monsanto's growing anxiety over the years about keeping knowledge of the toxic effects and environmental impacts of PCBs away from the media and the public.
The thousands of pages of documents are in a searchable format, enabling the public to find specific information of interest. The posting allows people to judge for themselves whether Monsanto acted responsibly or whether news accounts using the documents have taken information "out of context," as Monsanto has claimed repeatedly.
Along with the searchable database of thousands of pages of internal Monsanto documents, EWG has also released a report synthesizing the most revealing language from the documents and boiling down 50 years of paperwork into one, easy-to-use interactive report.
The report details Monsanto's advanced knowledge of the health effects and environmental contamination problems and shows that the company knew about the dangers of PCBs long before the public found out.
The Environmental Working Group thinks the Anniston story is a cautionary tale. If Monsanto hid what it knew about its toxic pollution for decades, what is the company hiding from the public now? This question seems particularly important as this powerful company asks the world to trust it with a worldwide, high-stakes gamble with the environmental consequences of its genetically modified organisms.