The Monsanto Papers: Suspicions Confirmed

Though spokespersons for the Monsanto Company are running the defense, as usual, the Monsanto Papers, namely emails turned over to the plaintiff’s lawyer in a Roundup cancer lawsuit, reveal their claims of rigorous testing and scientific review more questionable than ever. The plaintiff’s Council published this group of emails on its website a couple of weeks ago, which the chemical giant wasn’t expecting, and demands they be removed.

Too late. It seems they missed a filing deadline. There’s no retracting this.

There are some smoking guns in those emails, starting with them inventing their own definition of “independent.” A rebuttal aimed at the 2015 International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) assessment of glyphosate published in the journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology and identified as an independent review of Roundup’s effects on human health was ghostwritten by Monsanto.

monsanto papersNot surprised? Neither am I. The internal and external communications in the emails known as the Monsanto Papers show that the experts the company contracted to put an external name on their response to the IARC’s probably carcinogenic assessment. From start to publishing, Monsanto controlled the review’s content. So, it’s not independent at all, it just looks like it is in print.

They disclosed paying the consulting unit at Intertek Group to develop one of four review supplements but publicly claimed that was the extent of their involvement in the rebuttal. That batch of internal emails proves that they were in the thick of things through all of it, directing and controlling everything published.

It’s not the only time this happened. An editorial Forbes published as authored by Henry I. Miller, a fellow at Hoover Institute, was also written by Monsanto. Miller added a few words to the company’s draft, thereby caught in a breach of contract with Forbes, who will never publish Miller again, and have removed the ghostwritten content from their website.

Other gems in these Monsanto Papers include their knowledge of Roundup’s formulation causing reproductive and endocrine problems prior to 2002:

What I’ve been hearing from you is that this continues to be the case with these studies – Glyphosate is OK but the formulated product (and thus the surfactant) does the damage. We had a low-risk strategy to generically deal with the issue but couldn’t implement it for budgetary reasons. In the meantime, the studies with endocrine/repro endpoints keep coming, so we should re-visit the issue.” — William Heydens, Chief of Regulatory Science, RE: European Commission Endocrine Disrupters developments, Apr. 25, 2002 (#37)

monsanto papers

And the unsealed Monsanto Papers show that company scientists have long been aware that their testing was inadequate to prove that Roundup’s formulation did not cause cancer:

“You cannot say that Roundup is not a carcinogen … we have not done the necessary testing on the formulation to make that statement. The testing on the formulations are not anywhere near the level of the active ingredient. We can make that statement about glyphosate and can infer that there is no reason to believe that Roundup would cause cancer. ” Donna Farmer, Toxicology Programs Manager, RE: Agitation against Roundup, Nov. 23, 2003 (#27)

Seven years later – nothing has changed. There is still no testing of the Roundup formulation for carcinogenicity as recently as 2010:

With regards to the carcinogenicity of our formulations we don’t have such testing on them directly but we do have such testing on the glyphosate component and some extensive tox testing on the surfactant.” — Stephen Adams, Chemistry Regulatory Affairs Manager, Re: Response Need – Re: Glyphosate Questions (Argentina), Dec. 14, 2010 (#28)

And just two years ago, these Monsanto papers reveal one of those panel experts has this to say:

We can’t say ‘no evidence’ because that means there is not a single scrap of evidence, and I don’t see how we can go that far.” — Dr Thomas Sorahan, Monsanto Consultant/University of Birmingham (UK), RE: Poster Abstract, Now. 2, 2015 (#33)

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So, proof that Roundup does not cause cancer in humans doesn’t exist. The question is… is it the glyphosate, the surfactant, or the synergy of the combination? And are some of their glyphosate herbicide formulas more toxic to health than others? (There’s a lot more than one.)

Both the New York Times and Bloomberg have some excellent in-depth coverage on pertinent points gleaned from the 75 unsealed Monsanto papers. If you want to read them, don’t delay. Monsanto is pleading the court to have them removed. If the linked page below is gone – try here.

It’s certainly not a win-win situation for Monsanto, whose stance is?

What you’re seeing are some cherry-picked things that can be made to look bad. But the substance and the science are not affected by this.” Scott Partridge, Monsanto VP of Global Strategy

But it looks like the science is incomplete, and they give the world cherry-picked information. One of these unsealed Monsanto papers implies that cost of rigorous cancer testing on Roundup’s formulation is way too expensive… and it’s not required. They do know enough to know that the ‘science’ and spin must focus on a single ingredient – glyphosate – and not the herbicide’s other ingredients.

More Info & Sources:

Images courtesy of Donna ClevelandMike MozartLinkedIn Pulse, and KHOI (respectively).

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On a mission to get to the bottom of things, Agent Green digs far and wide in the pursuit of truth.