New questions have been raised when documents were released about Monsanto’s efforts to influence public opinion by collusion and directing data published by mainstream media, various authors and scientific publications and revealed an internal debate over the safety of Roundup weed killer made by Monsanto.
Controversy Over Glyphosate
The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, the most widely used weed killer in the world used on farm crops and by home gardeners, with the largest market being the United States. Although Roundup’s relative safety has been touted by most U.S. regulators, the Federal Mass Tort Litigation against Monsanto and Roundup pending in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco continues to raise questions about Monsanto’s practices and the product itself.
As details of Monsanto’s attempt to suppress and influence the release of damaging scientific data are released, thousands of plaintiffs from across the country have filed suit against Monsanto and the number of filed cases will only increase.
National law firm Parker Waichman LLP has extensive experience and success in representing clients in product liability litigation. Attorneys at the firm are available to answer questions for any individuals seeking legal information for a potential lawsuit.
Data Suppressed by Former EPA Manager
Documented evidence has been introduced that shows Monsanto influenced high level U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) executives to suppress data and the release of reports that showed Roundup (glyphosate) was hazardous and a suspected cause of cancer. An EPA Regulatory Affairs Manager, Jess Rowland, prevented the release of a government study that was key in the investigation into the carcinogenic effects of Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Ms. Rowland left the EPA in early 2017 to subsequently become a highly paid consultant for Monsanto.
Attempts to Protect Monsanto’s Image
The agrochemical company goes to serious lengths to try to protect its image. Documents reveal that Henri I. Miller, an academic and a vocal proponent of genetically modified crops, asked Monsanto to draft an article for him that mostly mirrored one that appeared under his name on Forbes’s website in 2015. There was no comment from Mr. Miller.
In a similar situation, an academic involved in writing research funded by Monsanto, John Acquavella, a former Monsanto employee, seemed to express discomfort with the process, writing in a 2015 email to a Monsanto executive, “I can’t be part of deceptive authorship on a presentation or publication.” He also said of the way Monsanto was trying to present the authorship: “We call that ghost writing and it is unethical.” Mr. Acquavella denied that there was any “ghostwriting” and that his comments had been related to an early draft and a question over authorship that was resolved, reports The New York Times.
Monsanto has been shown to have actively ghostwritten, drafted, and offered direction on formal EPA studies, press releases and other “official” documents, introduced in the pending Roundup federal litigation.
Internal Emails Revealed
One Monsanto scientist wrote in an internal email in 2001, “If somebody came to me and said they wanted to test Roundup I know how I would react – with serious concern.”
Monsanto expressed outrage that documents had been released by a law firm involved in the litigation, although the documents are now public court records, which Monsanto tried to suppress being introduced into the litigation over and over since the start of the Roundup lawsuits. It was noted that Monsanto might have erred by not filing a required motion seeking continued protection of the documents. Monsanto said such filing was unnecessary.
Mr. Miller’s 2015 article on Forbes’s website was an attack on the findings of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization that had labeled glyphosate a probable carcinogen, a finding debated by other regulatory bodies. In the email exchange, Monsanto asked Mr. Miller if he would be interested in writing an article on the topic, and he said, “I would be if I could start from a high-quality draft.”
The article was authored by Mr. Miller with the statement that “opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.” The magazine did not mention any involvement by Monsanto in preparing the article. “That was a collaborative effort, a function of the outrage we were hearing from many people on the attacks on glyphosate,” Mr. Partridge of Monsanto said. “This is not a scientific, peer-reviewed journal. It’s an op-ed we collaborated with him on.”
After the stories origin was revealed, Forbes removed the story from its website and said that it ended its relationship with Mr. Miller amid the revelations.
As for ongoing internal debate, in a 2002 email, a Monsanto executive said, “What I’ve been hearing from you is that this continues to be the case with these studies – Glyphosate is O.K. but the formulated product (and thus the surfactant) does the damage.” A different Monsanto executive tells others in a 2003 email, “You cannot say that Roundup is not a carcinogen… we have not done the necessary testing on the formulation to make that statement.”
Legal Help for Roundup Issues
If you or someone you know was injured by the use of Roundup or any chemical product, you may have valuable legal rights. Parker Waichman LLP offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. We urge you to contact us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).