In August, internal Monsanto emails became public and showed that Monsanto attempted to influence both media and scientific research to prove that Roundup was safe to use, according to The New York Times.
It’s okay for companies to research the safety of their own products and present their findings to the media. What’s not okay is for companies to manipulate their research to fit their preferred conclusion or to write articles for other experts without disclosing their relationship. It’s also not okay for companies to know their product is potentially dangerous but still sell it without any warnings for consumers.
But it appears that Monsanto did just that.
Certain documents showed that Henry I. Miller, an American medical researcher and columnist, asked Monsanto to draft an article for him. Acknowledged as an expert, Miller’s article could lend credence to Monsanto’s argument that pesticides like Roundup are safe to use.
Monsanto asked Miller if he was interested in writing such an article. “I would be if I could start from a high-quality draft,” he wrote back.
The documents released in August showed that Monsanto’s draft was remarkably similar to an article published in Forbes in 2015 under Miller’s name. The article attacked the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) for labeling glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Forbes was unaware of Miller’s relationship with Monsanto and deleted all of Miller’s articles this past August, citing that all contributing writers “sign a contract requiring them to disclose any potential conflicts of interest and only publish content that is their own original writing.”
In 2016, Critical Reviews in Toxicology, a journal devoted to research about toxic exposure, published a study that determined that glyphosate is not “genotoxic,” which means it’s not destructive to DNA. Typically, a genotoxic chemical can lead to cancer. Such a study would appear to refute the idea that exposure to Roundup could potentially lead to cancer.
However, one of the academics listed on the research team was John Acquavella, a former Monsanto employee. As revealed in the emails, Acquavella expressed discomfort with the study. “I can’t be part of deceptive authorship on a presentation or publication,” he said. “We call that ghost writing and it is unethical.”
What Monsanto Knew
Internally, Monsanto employees also appear to have known that Roundup may be dangerous.
“If somebody came to me and said they wanted to test Roundup I know how I would react—with serious concern,” a Monsanto scientist wrote in an email all the way back in 2001.
In 2003, a Monsanto executive wrote in an email, “You cannot say that Roundup is not a carcinogen . . . we have not done the necessary testing on the formulation to make that statement.” She also wrote, “We cannot support the statement about ‘no adverse effects whatsoever on flora, or fauna or on the human body.’”
Monsanto and the EPA
The emails released in August add to an already deceptive history for Monsanto. In March, other Monsanto emails were revealed to the public that showed that Monsanto attempted to collaborate with the EPA on their pro-Roundup agenda.
In 2015, Jess Rowland, the chairman of the EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee at the time, contacted Dan Jenkins, who was Monsanto’s US agency lead. Rowlands offered to “kill” an independent investigation into whether or not glyphosate was toxic, saying, “If I can kill this, I should get a medal.”
Rowlands never did end up killing the investigation, but Jenkins anticipated this. “However, don’t get your hopes up,” he wrote in an email to a Monsanto executive, “I doubt EPA and Jess can kill this; but it’s good to know they are going to actually make the effort now to coordinate….” Later in the year, Jenkins shared that Rowland was planning on retiring in a few months “and could be useful as we move forward with ongoing glyphosate defense.”
What Happens Now?
Litigation against Monsanto is ongoing. However, communities are already taking steps to limit the adverse effects of Roundup.
For example, the Naperville Park District in Illinois decided last month to use organic weedkillers in eight of its 137 parks. It will also continue its policy of only using organic products in and around playgrounds.
Unfortunately, for some people, it’s too late to eliminate Roundup from their lives. Many people are already suffering from cancers that they believe are linked to their use of Roundup. In fact, more than 800 migrant farm workers, landscapers, horticultural workers, and farmers have filed suit against Monsanto.
If you or a loved one has developed cancer due to Roundup exposure, Hensley Legal Group can help. Call us today or contact us online for a free consultation.