Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) recently asked the Inspector General for the Environmental Protection Agency to initiate a probe into possible collusion between a former high-ranking EPA official and Monsanto, the maker of the herbicide glyphosate – Widely known as Roundup.
The investigation centers on whether the EPA staffer colluded with the agricultural giant to bias research on the herbicide and came after media reports of documents released in the course of a lawsuit against Monsanto alleging glyphosate causes cancer. In those media reports it was revealed employees Monsanto had ghostwritten many of the scientific reports U.S. regulators relied on in determining if glyphosate was a carcinogen.
The current mass litigation against Monsanto in federal court came after a March 2016 World Health Organization declaration that there was sufficient evidence to classify the weed killer glyphosate – better known by its commercial name Roundup – as “probably carcinogenic to humans. Plaintiffs lawyer’s in the litigation have also claimed that ghostwritten parts of the 2013 report were actually written by Monsanto’s Toxicology Manager and then published under the names of several academic scientists, and his boss ghostwrote parts of another report in 2000.
The Inspector General’s office has been asked specifically to look into Monsanto e-mails uncovered in the current litigation referencing Jess Rowland, previously a manager in the EPA’s pesticide division. In those e-mails Rowland allegedly bragged to Monsanto officials he could “kill” investigations into glyphosate. In another e-mail a Monsanto regulatory affairs manager sent to colleagues, it was mentioned Rowland told him, “If I can kill this I should get a medal.”
All the lawsuits sparked by the WHO report against Monsanto Co claim the company’s herbicide caused cancer in farm workers and others exposed to the chemical and that Monsanto had long known that, glyphosate was hazardous to human health.
The EPA studies have been integral to Monsanto’s insistence that glyphosate is perfectly safe to humans and denying any claims linking it to cancer. The World Health Organization findings are in direct opposition to these compromised EPA reports. The WHO has concluded that the best scientific research indicates glyphosate is a “probable” carcinogen in humans. Their International Agency for Research on Cancer, is considered the gold standard for cancer research. In 50 years, not a single “probable” human carcinogen it has identified has been shown later to not cause cancer.
Arguments over whether or not glyphosate is a carcinogen are not trivial. Annual U.S. glyphosate use has soared to more than 300 million pounds. Unsurprisingly, researchers have detected traces of the pesticide in a wide range of off-the-shelf foods, and even in some organic brands.
Monsanto’s continued claims about the safety of Roundup have been undermined by revelations of the company’s interference in glyphosate studies. Scientists from the WHO have shown evidence that directly links glyphosate to non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Monsanto made almost $5 billion in revenue from Roundup in 2015 even while being dogged by questions about the weed killer’s safety. Any credibility they might have had on this issue has been lost with the revelation that the company has worked actively to suppress any evidence that might harm sales – or reveal they knowingly sell a dangerous product.
At Saunders & Walker we continue to represent consumers harmed by defective products and medical devices. If you feel you or a loved one might have developed cancer or other medical conditions after repeated exposure to Roundup, please call us for a free consultation.