Trend Statement To 4/26 Workers Memorial Day Davis Rally
|Official Statement of Sandi Trend, Mother of Injured BioTechnology
Worker, David Bell
Worker’s Memorial Day Rally
held in the City of Davis, California
April 27, 2008
I would like to say that it is a pleasure to be here today,
although the reason for my speaking is not about anything that can be
defined as pleasurable.
My name is Sandi Trend and I am the mother of, like so many of you
that are here, and injured worker.
It wasn’t until my son started on the labyrinth road of lies,
deceit, fraud and concealment of a biotechnology company here in Davis,
an industry that my son had so heartedly believed in became sick (and
continues to be sick), could I have ever imagined what a nightmare so
many of you have gone through. I’m sorry for all of you, the injured
worker and the people who love them because I now know that what my son
has said to me, “Mom, no one cares” this seems to be true.
I am here today to tell you all; the State of California (and all
other states where their is a broken worker’s compensation system),
everyone behind this unjust system who has forgotten, or chooses to
ignore the value of even one single life, and especially those employers
who hide under the umbrella of protection within the worker’s
compensation system so that past, present and future employees as well
as the public are never made aware of your misdeeds... THERE IS SOMEONE
WHO CARES - AND YOU WILL NOT GET AWAY WITH THIS.
WHEN YOU HAVE BEATEN DOWN AN INJURED WORKER WHO WENT TO WORK
EVERYDAY NOT TO GET INJURED, GET SICK OR DIE, but only wanted to be a
contributing member of society, to give something back to the world and
make it a better place ...THERE IS SOMEONE WHO CARES - AND YOU WILL NOT
GET AWAY WITH THIS.
WHEN YOU HAVE STOLEN AN INJURED WORKER's ABILITY TO MAKE A LIVING
AND FORCED THEM TO MERELY EXIST WITH THE HELP FROM FEDERAL AND STATE
AGENCIES, FAMILIES AND FRIENDS THERE IS SOMEONE WHO CARES - AND YOU
WILL NOT GET AWAY WITH THIS...
WHEN YOU HAVE DESTROYED NOT ONLY THE INJURED WORKER BUT THEIR
FAMILIES.. ...THERE IS SOMEONE WHO CARES - AND YOU WILL NOT GET AWAY
WHEN AN INJURED WORKER OR THE FAMILIES OF AN INJURED WORKER WHO
HAVE BECOME INJURED, BECAME SICK AND HAVE EVEN DIED HAVE LOST THEIR
VOICE BECAUSE OF YOU... LET ME TELL YOU, ...THERE IS STILL SOMEONE WHO
CARES. AND WE WILL NOT GO AWAY, -AND YOU WILL NOT GET AWAY WITH THIS.
I would like to address, not only everyone who is here today, but
the City of Davis and it’s residence as well. And I hope, with
everything that is in me you will take heed to what I am saying.
My son, who was 1 semester shy from getting his Bachelor of Science
degree with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry took a temporary
full-time position that was offered him from the biotechnology company,
Agraquest Inc. as an Assistant Researcher in this City in 1998. He began
his employment while the company was still located in an “office park”
in a residential neighborhood. The address was 1105 Kennedy Place,
Suite 4, which sits on the corner of Kennedy Place and J. Street.
As Agraquest states:
“AgraQuest is a biotechnology company that focuses on discovering,
developing, manufacturing and marketing effective, safe and
environmentally friendly natural pest management products for the
agricultural, institutional and home markets.”
Agraquest’s founder is Pam Marrone, who was formerly from Monsanto.
While at Monsanto she led its Insect Biotechnology group. She gave an
answer to a question posed to her, QUOTE: “Please describe the work that
you are doing that you consider to be the most innovative” Pam Marrone
listed that she “founded two “pure” biotech companies, Entotech and
AgraQuest". Agraquest started in 1995.
Pam Marrone also said, QUOTE: “was founding president and business
unit head for Entotech, Inc. (1990-1995) in Davis, (QUOTE: “a successful
biopesticide subsidiary of Denmark-based Novo Nordisk.” Pam Marrone has
been in the biotechnology arena for a very long time now.
The reason I am bringing this up to Davis and it’s residents is I
doubt very much that you were even aware of what was and no doubt is
still going on in this city.
I have brought with me today presentations for your viewing. As
you can see I have given “excerpts” of some of Agraquest’s (Pam Marrone
and others in the company) Interviews and articles about them or with
them. It is very plain to see, and they have openly boasted they have
“searched the world over” in their search for the “novel” microorganism.
They also say they use “microbe hunters” and “They'll check out new
samples of soils or plant roots or lichens arriving from
across the globe, hoping that one eventually will lead to the next
breakthrough natural, environmentally safe pesticide or fungicide.” (in
the article, "AgraQuest Growing its Own Success"; from the Sacramento
Bee, dated August 11, 1997). This is just a couple of examples I am now
First of all, an office park in a residential neighborhood, is NOT
an area where the possibility exists that it could contain known
pathogens, let alone the UNKNOWN. I am not sure what Bio Safety Level a
research lab that brings in soil from other countries, such as Agraquest
should have, but I am quite sure that Agraquest did not have a Bio
Safety Level above 2, if they had that. There was much discussion in
the city of Davis about bringing in a Level 3 or Level 4 lab as it was
opposed by it's residents. There was a fear of what microorganisms
could be in such a lab in the City and the risks associated with it. We
have all heard the word ANTHRAX. ANTHRAX comes from soil and as is
stated in numerous articles, Agraquest does indeed “search soil samples"
for the ”novel" microorganism.
Not only does Agraquest want to “discover” a new bacteria or fungus
they also test their discoveries on plant diseases such as fungus and
bacteria. I have also shown in the presentation documented relationship
to these bacteria and fungus as being human health hazards.
Five months and 9 days after my son started working for Agraquest,
after a workday he ended up at Immediate Care Medical Clinic with bloody
pus draining from his nose and the left side of his face and teeth had
become numb and 16 days later he ended up having the first of four sinus
surgeries, the last surgery was in 2006. My son has never regained his
health, in fact more and more of his body has been affected as a result
of working for Agraquest.
I have also shown in my presentation bacteria and fungus that have
been found in my son, either in his blood, sputum cultures and levels of
positive to HIGH POSITIVE in IgG tests, showing that he had a very high
level of exposure to these microorganisms.
David's immune system had been jeopardized and for 3 years (every
28 days) he was hooked up for approximately 7 hours each to an IV pump
and received immunoglobulin infusions (like those who receive
chemotherapy) because his body had stopped producing enough B-cells and
he no longer had an intact immune system. Each and every time he had
an IV infusion he had violent reactions to these treatments. To this
day his immune system levels are all over the place.
For the last, going on 10 years now, my son has been living in a
nightmare of hell with respect to his health. I am absolutely terrified
just what they are going to find in my son, if they ever do as what the
medical community is telling him now is that it is inconclusive, they
don't know what he has, they can't identify it. He has said they will
never find out Mom until I am on an autopsy table. I have lived my
life, since David worked for Agraquest, in a state of fear. And it is
pretty sad when his daughter asks her Mother, “What was Daddy like
before he got sick?”
Pam Marrone has said ""We're doing a lot of interesting things
here that are cutting edge. They haven't been done
before." To this I say, "Who made you God"? Agraquest searches
for the "novel" microorganism to fight plant disease and insect
control. Who is to say that there isn't going to be a crisis
because of mutations of bacteria and fungus that is allowed to
be put on our food crops as well as food for livestock.? What
becomes of the soil when it is being invaded with genetically
engineered or modified microorganisms? Why are eradicated
diseases now coming back causing illness, disease and death?
And a very important question is why does the industry only have
to show in their patents and products "the active" ingredient?
The Ag-Biotechnology industry says they are trying to go
"natural" and get away from the use of chemicals completely,
however when you look at their patents it clearly shows they use
chemicals and/or other microorganisms or both. Just what is
being put on our food and spayed on us for insect control? Why
do we, the citizens of the United States not have the right-to-
know? I also find if questionable why my son's project,
(Laginex which had already cleared by the United States Patent
office and the Environmental Protection Agency BEFORE he was
hired at Agraquest) was allowed to be altered in any way. My
son was to find a viable agent to extend the shelf life of
Laginex and still it was allowed to be sprayed for mosquito
control. Is the biotech industry allowed to do what it wants at
will? Some serious questions need to be raised and answered.
You’ll notice I have pictures of the location where David worked at
Agraquest when he got sick, 1105 Kennedy Place. The reason for these
pictures is to show the city of Davis and it’s residents why I am not
only speaking to the injured workers who are here, but you need to see
what I am talking about.
There is a picture of the corner of J Street and Kennedy and a
picture of the building's “directory”. Agraquest was in #4. I have
also shown a “drain”, as Agraquest called it. You will notice that the
“drain” is merely a hollowing out in the concrete and you will also see
on the other picture where the drain leads... directly onto the ground.
My son, while he was still in this building, had been instructed to pick
up a “drum” (or barrel) from an offsite farm where Agraquest tested some
of their products or inventions. When he picked the “drum” up it still
had some “liquid” in it. When he asked what he was to do with it he was
told to clean it out so it could be reused for fermentation broth. He
was instructed to clean it out and dump it down the “drain”. He asked it
it was safe, and like everything else he inquired about, he was told
“yes”. He said it had the word “Germany” on it and letters and numbers.
My friend and I went to Davis one day (August 2006) because I
wanted to see where this drain he had talked about was, as my son said
that he was told to dump everything there and it was outside.
I didn’t find a drain, not anything that would resemble any kind of
drain I had ever seen. I took pictures and sent them to my son to see
if this is the drain he was talking about. My son said “yes”. I was
appalled because where this drain dumps is directly onto the ground and
right across the street from apartments that are on J Street. I asked
him if this so called drain had been jackhammered out when he worked at
Agraquest and he said "No". Not far from the end of the drain is
something for “irrigation” (the picture is one the presentation board).
On this board you will also see some pictures of a dead crow,
faucet, and pipe. My friend pointed this out to me. It looks like the
crow had been drinking from the drip (faucet) and died. There is
“something” (greens, yellows, tans, and orange colored ) that is under
the pipe. I don’t know what it is nor how long it had been there, all I
know it is pretty frightening. My son said he thinks that the drip
might have been coming from the air conditioner condensation line. Two
weeks later I returned with Doug Haney and the crow was still there.
Like the first time, the crow showed no signs of decomposing nor were
there any bugs nor flying insects around.
This faucet is on the same wall that Agraquest’s lab was located.
I have since been back to 1105 Kennedy Place and there is a new concrete
wall, next to the concrete walkway. From the original outside wall of
the building to the the new wall is what I would call a flower bed as it
has been filled in with dirt. There is now a new faucet on the added
So residents of Davis, I believe you should be asking some
questions. I have contacted an investigator at the Yolo County District
Attorney's office and he has said he had turned it over to someone in an
environmental agency. I don’t know what has been found out. I have also
contacted Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey and tried to speak with Congressman
Dan Lundgren at a town-hall meeting. Shortly thereafter, I was granted
a meeting with some of his staff, however I was unable to attend and
Doug Haney attended this meeting. He addressed some very serious
concerns, one being HomeLand security as dirt or soil had been brought
in illegally from, I believe South America by Agraquest. My son said
this was around the time of the Mad Cow scare. We haven't heard back
from Lundgren's office.
Like so many injured workers, my son's illness and disease has been
denied, although everything that he has gone through and is still going
though can be traced back to his employment at Agraquest.
In 2003, as a result of a blood test done by the Mayo Clinic, it
was found my son showed a positive titer to histo-yeast. The fungus,
histoplasma capsulatum causes histoplasmosis which can be a very serious
and often fatal disease in humans. Denise Manker, one of the founding
scientist of Agraquest, has denied histoplasma ever being at Agraquest.
She has gone so far as to say she believes it comes from bat or bird
droppings. However, she along with three other Agraquest scientists
started signing away their interest on a patent and they were listed as
four of the “inventors” on this patent. This was on January 22 though
January 26, just 4 days after my son first sought emergency medical
treatment. It was also found that Pam Marrone was named as “first named
inventor”. Whether my son's positive blood result is connected to this
patent we don't know, but it is known that this fungus is found in soil,
and Agraquest "searches" soil
Denise Manker also testified, under oath before the Workers
Compensation Judge, that Agraquest had received only one citation from
CAL/OSHA and it was for one fume hood. She denied Agraquest ever being
cited other than the one time. Manker also said she is the one that
worked with CAL/OSHA on inspection findings that were done by the
agency. Agraquest did not receive only one citation from CAL/OSHA but
two that I know of. These are shown on the presentation board. One
citation was for “several illegal chemical fume hoods” and the other in
2003 listed many violations. Manker lied on the witness stand, however
the Judge found her testimony more credible than David's Qualified
Medical Examiner who said "By the description of Mr. Bell, it is not
surprising that he could have been exposed to histoplassma in the
contaminated "microfoci" as described by Gorbach et al. The risk of a
laboratory worker in contracting histoplasmosis is actually well
recognized by the Center of Disease Control which has published a
monograph "Histoplasmosis Protect Workers at Risk.... He goes on
further stating other articles which say the same thing. David's
Qualified Medical Examiner also said he believes David's exposure to
Bacillus Subtilis instigated his first sinus surgery in 1999. Again his
opinion was not even a consideration. Why then do we have Qualified
Medical Examiner's in the first place?
There is a long list of unethical behaviors being committed by the
Workers Compensation System as well. During my son's Workers
Compensation Trial my son was denied submission of additional evidence,
although he was told during a prior hearing he could if there was new
evidence. He was now facing another sinus surgery... this was new.
David was denied, like so many injured workers the right to
compensation. The Judge in fact had 10 years prior worked for a law
firm that represented the defense insurance carrier, Liberty Mutual. My
son had never seen this Judge before the actual trial, he was not given
the opportunity to oppose her, as the defense had done to one of his
Judges nor did she recuse herself because of her prior connections to
Liberty Mutual. I was also listed as a "witness" but I was not allowed
by the Judge to even take the stand.
Agraquest listed the wrong insurance carrier on my son’s Workers
Compensation claim in 2003. Because of a subpoena of my son’s employee
file in 2004 (requested in writing to an Agraquest attorney citing
Federal and state law, which was ignored) my son found that Agraquest
themselves had received the denial letter and did nothing to correct the
“error”. This denial letter was found in the subpoenaed records. My
son had to find out himself who the correct insurance carrier was by
calling the Insurance Rating Bureau in San Francisco. The correct
carrier, Golden Eagle/Liberty Mutual denied the claim, 285 days after my
son sent it by registered mail to Agraquest. The LAW says that a claim
is compensatable if it is not denied within 90 days however, this was
allowed to be ignored in the Workers Compensation system even to through
the appeal process.
Agraquest not only violated their duty as an employer to protect
the safety of their employees, they also concealed the fact that my son
had gotten sick because of workplace exposures. They made people
believe that he was a “threat to the company and it’s employees” by
sending a memo to “All Agraquesters” saying such. They went so far as
to say "the Davis Police Department will be called and better to be
safe”. An ex-coworker of my son had even sought a restraining order
against him. This was at the instigation of the company. The request
Agraquest could not afford the truth coming out that David’s
illness was a result of working for them. They were in the process of
registering with the EPA on their Bacillus Subtilis QST 713.
Interestingly, Agraquest was only given a "Conditional Time-Limeted"
registration for up to 2 years by the EPA as they themselves found fault
and had questions. However, this product was still allowed to be used
in the agricultural arena.
It is mandated by both Federal and State of California law that
knowledge of an adverse health effect from a pesticide (biological
included) MUST BE REPORTED. This was never done. Had my son's illness,
before his first sinus surgery been report it would have caused much
harm for Agraquest in many areas. This is total concealment.
My son’s life has been changed forever, because he wanted to make a
difference in the world. like so many hard working citizens. His life
has no doubt been shortened considerably.
It is time to put a stop to the nonsense and fight for the rights
of the injured worker. And the City of Davis, it's residents need to
know what has taken place in their city. I am not sure if any of them
have been sick because of Agraquest, but my son is proof of their lack
of safety standards, not to mention everything else.
Steve Zeltzer said, “This will not go away” and I can tell you, “I
will not go away”, and until my last dying breath I am going to fight
for change. The corruption has to stop, from the bad employer who has
no Conscience what-so-ever to an unjust Workers Compensation System.
[View the list]