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---December 30, 1993---
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As the controversy over the toxicity of dioxin mounts, a respected environmental writer on the subject is finding himself defending a $4 million libel lawsuit filed by a retired Monsanto Co. scientist. [1] Dr. Peter Montague, founder and director of the grassroots-oriented Environmental Research Foundation, was sued by Monsanto epidemiologist William Gaffey who claims he was libeled in an article Montague wrote in the March 1990 issue [RHWN #171] of RACHEL'S HAZARDOUS WASTE NEWS. The subject of the article was alleged fraud in dioxin studies conducted by Gaffey and his Monsanto colleagues.

Montague's supporters say the case is a classic SLAPP, a lawsuit filed by a corporation to stifle citizen opposition (the acronym stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). Prior to the lawsuit against Montague, Monsanto's alleged fraud was receiving widespread attention and even created momentum for expanding payments to Vietnam veterans exposed to dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange....

Montague based his article on a memo, "Newly revealed Fraud by Monsanto," prepared by EPA scientist Dr. Cate Jenkins. Montague's article also quoted documents from a lawsuit brought by Missouri residents against Monsanto, which revealed numerous discrepancies in the Monsanto studies.

The lawsuit could help resolve some of the controversy over dioxin, since the key issue at trial is expected to be whether what Montague wrote (and Jenkins alleged) is true or not....

Reached at his home in St. Louis, Gaffey said, "I'm afraid we're completely unable to talk until [the trial] is completely finished or much further along."

[This lawsuit is now pending in federal district court in St. Louis; a trial date has not yet been set.]

[Happy New Year.]
                                                                        --Peter Montague, Ph.D.
[1] Except for items inside square brackets, this article and headline are reprinted with permission from ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION (Winter, 1994), pg. 8. ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION is published quarterly by Environmental Action Foundation, 6930 Carroll Ave., Suite 600, Takoma Park, MD 20912; phone (301) 891-1100. Subscriptions are $25/year for individuals.

Descriptor terms: usphs; phs; public health service; barry l. johnson; atsdr; agency for toxic substances and disease registry; hazardous waste; health effects; morbidity; mortality; birth defects; neurological disorders; neurotoxins; leukemia; cardiovascular disease; dermatitis; superfund; leachate; epa; environmental protection agency; trichloroethylene; tce; gastrointestinal cancer; lung cancer; bladder cancer; esophagus cancer; stomach cancer; colon cancer; rectal cancer; rectum; trihalomethanes; thms; chlorination; drinking water; low birth weight; heart defects; neural tube defects; cleft palate; central nervous system; lawsuits; monsanto; william r. gaffey; epidemiology; science; peter montague; dioxin; occupational safety and health; slapps; strategic lawsuit against public participation; agent orange; vietnam veterans; cate jenkins; kemner;

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