DEAR READERS: After I posted warnings in this column about some pet foods being contaminated with Monsanto’s herbicide glyphosate (via the widely used Roundup), the company was quick to demand that I post a retraction. Not only will Monsanto not get a retraction, it now appears that the company may be starting to pay for producing and distributing glyphosate, which the World Health Organization has designated a probable carcinogen.
This August, a San Francisco jury awarded groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson -- who had used Roundup for years at his job, and developed what his doctors consider fatal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma -- the sum of $250 million in punitive damages and $39 million in compensatory damages.
“The jury found Monsanto acted with malice and oppression because they knew what they were doing was wrong, and doing it with reckless disregard for human life,” said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., one of Johnson’s attorneys, according to the Associated Press. This is the first of hundreds of cancer-patient cases against Monsanto, and could be a bellwether of what lies ahead for the company. Monsanto still claims this product is safe.
For decades, some government regulators and legislators have colluded to shield such companies from the mounting scientific evidence of the harmful public health and environmental consequences of pesticides. Company lawyers and paid scientists have sought to discredit studies that put their products in a bad light. One example: former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt’s March 2017 denial of a petition by environmental groups to halt the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops.
Dow Chemical’s chlorpyrifos is a highly toxic organophosphate, a class of insecticides once approved to kill fleas on pets, but that also poisoned dogs and cats. Some 5 million pounds of chlorpyrifos are used annually in the U.S. on soybean, fruit and nut crops. It is implicated in causing neurological, cognitive and other health problems, especially in children -- not to mention its impact on biodiversity, as it eliminates nontarget beneficial insects and insectivorous birds and bats. Manatees, dolphins and other warm-blooded marine animals can’t break down organophosphates due to genetic mutations that occurred long ago, making them especially vulnerable.
Thankfully, Pruitt’s decision has now been overruled in a Seattle-based appeals court. Judge Jed Rakoff has directed the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos within 60 days, saying the agency failed to counteract “scientific evidence that its residue on food causes neurodevelopmental damage to children.”
DEAR DR. FOX: I have two cats and a dog. One of my cats lives to eat and is overweight. He knows when I am fixing food for them even when I am quiet as a mouse. There he comes, tail in the air and ready to eat. I swear he is psychic. He will come from another room where he was sleeping and I made no noise in the kitchen. I do feed on schedule generally, but even when I am off schedule, there he comes. What is your opinion? -- A.L., Fort Myers, Florida
DEAR A.L.: Cats have excellent hearing, and your cat may hear you from another room opening a can of cat food or opening the fridge door. They also have a sense of time/daily routines, and anyone who keeps animals should try to stick to a set routine. This can help you spot when an animal is feeling “off” when there is suddenly no interest in the regular meal or play session (ideally early evening for cats).
But the possible clincher for “psychic” behavior, or remote sensing, in your case, is when you are putting food out off-schedule. I am impressed by similar behavior from one of our cats, who also lives to eat. He can be seemingly asleep on his bed, but appears when I am fixing extra food for the new cat we have taken in. I may have been absolutely quiet, but there he comes regardless. Also, it seems more than mere coincidence when this cat, Pinto Bean, comes and flops over to be groomed when I am in another room, very quietly grooming our dog Kota.
I must add that the new cat has been challenged and bullied by Pinto Bean, who is 19 pounds heavier. When this happens, Kota steps in and makes the peace. The emotional intelligence and empathy of nonhuman species have been scientifically documented as non-anthropomorphic aspects of consciousness. For many instances of pets’ remote feeling and sensing, see my essay about “The Empathosphere” on my website.
CLASS-ACTION LAWSUITS AGAINST PET FOOD MANUFACTURERS
Rachael Ray Nutrish Pet Food is facing a $5 million class-action lawsuit for deceptive advertising. Solid Gold Pet Food is facing a class-action lawsuit regarding contamination of “heavy metals, chemicals, and/or toxins.”
For details about both, visit truthaboutpetfood.com.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxVet.net.)