Yesterday’s New York Times reports about how the agricultural biotechnology company Monsanto is trying to cast doubt on evidence that its herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) is carcinogenic or otherwise harmful to human health.
The Times based its analysis on documents unsealed by a federal court in a case in which people are claiming that glyphosate caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined a couple of years ago.
The documents indicate collusion between EPA officials and Monsanto over the IARC finding:
Court records show that Monsanto was tipped off to the determination by a deputy division director at the E.P.A., Jess Rowland, months beforehand. That led the company to prepare a public relations assault on the finding well in advance of its publication. Monsanto executives, in their internal email traffic, also said Mr. Rowland had promised to beat back an effort by the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct its own review.
The documents confirm previous disclosures of Monsanto’s attempts to manipulate academic research.
The disclosures are the latest to raise concerns about the integrity of academic research financed by agrochemical companies. Last year, a review by The New York Times showed how the industry can manipulate academic research or misstate findings. Declarations of interest included in a Monsanto-financed paper on glyphosate that appeared in the journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology said panel members were recruited by a consulting firm. Email traffic made public shows that Monsanto officials discussed and debated scientists who should be considered, and shaped the project.
The Times article does not link to the actual documents, but these are posted on the Website of US Right to Know.
They make interesting reading. Here, for example, is a quote from the first document, Jess Rowland unsealed, (page 4, lines 19-24):
Monsanto has made it clear throughout this litigation that it intends to rely on EPA’s conclusions in the defense of this case, particularly in this first phase of general causation. Based on these documents alone, it is clear that Monsanto enjoyed considerable influence within the EPA’s OPP, and was close with Mr. Rowland, who promised to try to “kill” the glyphosate issue for them; coincidentally, a report authored chiefly by him was “accidentally leaked” just at the time of his planned retirement.
— Jess Rowland documents unsealed (115 pages) (3.14.17)
— Documents unsealed (227 pages) (3.14.17)
— Judge Vince Chhabria’s ruling to unseal documents (3.13.17)
— Plaintiffs Reply In Support of Motion to Compel Deposition of Jess Rowland (see especially Marion Copley letter on p. 11) (2.27.17)
Reporting & analysis:
— Unsealed Documents Raise Questions on Monsanto Weed Killer, by Danny Hakim (New York Times) (3.15.17)
— Court Documents Reveal Ghostwritten Studies, Questions On Monsanto Weed Killer’s Safety, by Katrina Pascual (Tech Times) (3.15.17)
— EPA Official Accused of Helping Monsanto “Kill” Cancer Study, by Joel Rosenblatt, Lydia Mulvany and Peter Waldman (Bloomberg) (3.14.17)
— Monsanto Accused of Ghostwriting Papers on Roundup Cancer Risk, by Joel Rosenblatt (Bloomberg) (3.14.17)
— Plaintiffs in U.S. Lawsuit Say Monsanto Ghostwrote Roundup Studies, by Brendan Pierson (Reuters) (3.14.17)
— Judge Threatens to Sanction Monsanto for Secrecy in Roundup Cancer Litigation, by Carey Gillam (Huffington Post/USRTK)) (3.10.17)
— Monsanto Cancer Suits Turn to EPA Deputy’s “Suspicious” Role, by Joel Rosenblatt (Bloomberg) (2.27.17)
— Questions Raised About EPA-Monsanto Collusion Raised in Cancer Lawsuits, by Carey Gillam (Huffington Post/USRTK) (2.13.17)
— Monsanto, EPA Seek to Keep Talks About Glyphosate Cancer Review a Secret, by Carey Gillam (Huffington Post/USRTK) (1.18.17)
Other related documents and articles:
Glyphosate: discorde à l’agence de protection de l’environnement américaine, by Stéphane Foucart (Le Monde) (3.14.17)
Summary of ORD comments on OPP’s glyphosate cancer assessment (12.14.15)
Addition: The New York Times reports that a European Chemical agency says Roundup is not carcinogenic.