Letters to the Editor - July 2

Letters to the Editor - July 2

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This week's letters included discussions on the settlements of two major class actions and a view on quad bike laws.

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Settlement cheats victims

BAYER's Monsanto division raided its petty cash to settle 95,000 claims with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma sufferers in the US for near $11 billion.

Another $1.25b is for potential future claims from at least 30,000 other Roundup users also suffering the disease.

But despite making the compensation payments, Bayer denies that Plaintiffs' illnesses resulted from long term exposure to Roundup herbicide and its active ingredient glyphosate.

Claimants will receive the miserly sum of US$5000 to $250,000, depending on the strength of each case.

This deal is a travesty of fairness and justice that offers little to Roundup's victims for their pain, suffering and terminal illnesses.

Bayer's total assets at the end of 2019 were about US$140b, including Monsanto which it bought for $66b in 2017.

The payouts are a pittance compared with around $80 million awarded to each of four plaintiffs in three earlier trials, when Dewayne Johnson, the Pilliod couple and Edwin Hardeman successfully brought NHL claims against Bayer/Monsanto.

After weeks of hearing evidence, the juries in those trials all found Monsanto's glyphosate-based herbicides, such as Roundup, caused NHL.

They also awarded large punitive damages after being convinced Monsanto knew for a long time that Roundup was a health hazard but failed to warn users.

Those trial verdicts are now on appeal and Bayer says the plaintiffs in those cases are not included in the present settlement.

The mediated settlement takes any future findings on cancer claims out of juries' hands, Bayer says.

A "Class Science Panel" will determine whether or not Roundup causes NHL and the minimum harmful exposure dose.

The chances of such a panel being stacked are very high and it's a stalling tactic.

Plaintiffs must await the Panel's decisions before making further claims, delaying the process for several years, and the award of any punitive damages will also be ruled out.

BOB PHELPS,

Gene Ethics executive director

Roll-over protection

I remember tractors without roll frames, power take-off shafts without shrouds and even cars without seat belts.

One day I'll be able to also remember quad bikes without roll over protection.

There are still accidents from tractors rolling, PTOs grabbing, and cars crashing. There will still be accidents involving quads.

It is also true that roll frames on tractors create a crush risk and PTO guards can offer a false sense of security and there are accidents recorded where guards have failed.

The issue is the proportion of accidents that lead to injury or fatality.

Seat belts can render whiplash in even low speed accidents. Equally, quad frames will snag on branches or bruise riders.

What matters is the new risks are substantially outweighed by the old. I think a reasonable decision has been reached to mandate roll-over protection on quads when one considers the kind of accidents from rolling this essential farm implement.

PETER COMENSOLI,

Mangrove Mountain, NSW.

Righting the wrongs

WITH the live export class action brought against "the government" by cattlemen in northern Australia being decided in the cattle producers' favour, it is a great relief for them, or should I say, for those who survived.

The facts are that many cattlemen, and their families, did not survive and the knock-on effects of the decision were felt all the way through the cattle industry.

This class action has also been costly to many cattlemen and the end result will also be costly to "the government" - that is you and me.

This could have been avoided if just two people had stuck with their respective electorates' wishes instead of voting with then Prime Minster Julia Gillard and Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig.

Independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott could have brought the Gillard Government to its knees, if they had followed their respective electorates' wishes.

If they had any guts they would now muster up Ms Gillard, former Prime Mister Kevin Rudd, Mr Ludwig, and members of the ABC, and go to northern Australia with their cheque books and pay all the cattlemen who lost millions of dollars because of their decision.

PHIL DOWE,

Zilzie, Qld.

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