The New York Times has reported that Monsanto hid evidence that showed concerns about the safety of the pesticide Roundup. A federal court unsealed documents raising questions about its safety and Monsanto’s research practices. The court documents included Monsanto’s internal emails and email traffic between the company and federal regulators, that showed that Monsanto had ghostwritten research that was later attributed to academics and that a senior official at the EPA had worked to quash a review of Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, that was to have been conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Court records show that Monsanto was tipped off to the determination by the World Health Organization that glyphosate was a probable carcinogen, by a 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.
It was Rowland had promised to impede an effort by the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct its own review. Dan Jenkins, a Monsanto executive, said in an email in 2015 that Mr. Rowland, referring to the other agency’s potential review, had told him, “If I can kill this, I should get a medal.” The review never took place.
The email exchanges show that ahead of the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s review of glyphosate, Monsanto executive William “Bill” Heydens instructed his staff to ghost-write portions of a study, and then asked scientists to “just sign their names” to the study.
The emails show Monsanto weighing the cost of paying independent experts to create studies ($250,000) and the cost of “ghost-writing” studies and putting a reputable scientist’s name on the publication.
“A less expensive/more palatable approach might be to involve experts only for the areas of contention…and we ghost-write the Exposure Tox & Genetox sections,” one email reads. In the same email, as he advocates for ghost-writing, Heydens references another ghost-written study on glyphosate from 2000.
In a statement to CBS News, Monsanto said “These allegations are false. Monsanto scientists did not ghostwrite the paper.” The company reiterated “No regulatory body in the world considers glyphosate to be a carcinogen.”
Despite Monsanto’s attempts to influence the IARC’s decision in their favor, the agency concluded that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen weeks after this exchange. Since the decision, Monsanto and its allies in the chemical industry have attacked the IARC, calling it an “unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable and foreign body.”
In addition to ghost-writing studies in an attempt to influence the IARC’s conclusions on glyphosate, Monsanto and the chemical industry have spent huge amounts of money attempting to delegitimize the agency.
According to Open Secrets, Monsanto has spent more than $57 million since 2008 lobbying the federal government.