Glyphosate — the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and other herbicides — is the most widely used agricultural chemical in the world, and testing suggests a large portion of the global population now has glyphosate in their system.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the “gold standard” in carcinogenicity research, glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen” (Class 2A).1,2
Research scientist Anthony Samsel has also reported he has evidence showing Monsanto is well aware glyphosate promotes cancer, and that they’ve had this knowledge since 1981.
Publicly, the company has insisted glyphosate is harmless to both environment and human health, but recent revelations are beginning to unravel Monsanto’s carefully orchestrated plot to deceive the public.
The evidence in question suggests the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has in fact colluded with Monsanto to protect the company’s interests by manipulating and preventing key investigations into glyphosate’s cancer-causing potential.
What we have here is really the most dangerous situation possible. Taxpayers’ money has essentially been used to help shield companies from liability and obstruct consumers’ ability to prove damages.
Environmental Protection Agency Accused of Colluding With Monsanto
But first, some background: Based on the IARC’s classification of glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) followed suit, declaring glyphosate a carcinogen under Proposition 65.
As a result, all glyphosate-containing products must carry a cancer warning. Monsanto attempted to overturn the OEHHA’s decision, but Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Kapetan ruled against it.3,4,5 More than 60 plaintiffs are also suing Monsanto claiming Roundup caused or contributed to their non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
One of them is Yolanda Mendoza,6 who has battled stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s for over a year. She believes her cancer was caused by Roundup, which she would spray on her lawn every weekend, using a backpack sprayer. She has lost sensation in her fingers and jaw due to nerve damage.
Monsanto has defended Roundup’s safety in court by leaning on a 2016 EPA report that found glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic” to humans.7 At the time, Jess Rowland was the associate director of the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, Health Effects Division,8 and Rowland was a key author of that report.
The EPA’s conclusion, which runs counter to the IARC’s determination, met with severe criticism — so much so, a scientific advisory panel was recently convened to evaluate the strength of the EPA’s decision.
According to some of the members on this panel, the EPA indeed appears to have violated its own guidelines by discounting and downplaying data from studies linking glyphosate to cancer.9
Next, attorneys for plaintiffs suing Monsanto found email correspondence between EPA toxicologist Marion Copley and Rowland suggesting Rowland may have colluded with Monsanto to find glyphosate non-carcinogenic.10,11
In one email Copley cites evidence showing glyphosate is toxic to animals, adding “It is essentially certain that glyphosate causes cancer.” She directly accuses Rowland of playing “political conniving games with the science” to help Monsanto and other pesticide manufacturers.
According to court records, Rowland also warned Monsanto of the IARC’s determination months before it was made public,12 giving the company time to plan its defense strategy.
New Bombshell — Evidence for EPA-Monsanto Collusion Grows Stronger
Then came the next bombshell. Email correspondence showed Rowland helped stop a glyphosate investigation by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on Monsanto’s behalf.
In an email, Monsanto regulatory affairs manager Dan Jenkins recounts a conversation he’d had with Rowland, in which Rowland said, “If I can kill this I should get a medal,”13,14 referring to the ATSDR investigation.
Jenkins also noted that Rowland was planning to retire in a few months and “could be useful as we move forward with ongoing glyphosate defense.”15 This is about as damaging as it gets.
By colluding with Monsanto to declare glyphosate safe and stopping toxicology evaluations by other federal offices, the EPA has used taxpayers’ money to hide the truth about a dangerous toxin and prevent consumers harmed by the chemical from being able to effectively prove their case in court.
Without the EPA, Monsanto would have a tougher time arguing Roundup is harmless, and the company has gone to great lengths to get the court to discount the IARC’s determination that glyphosate is carcinogenic, insisting the EPA is a far superior agency, referring to the IARC as an “unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable and foreign body.”
Instead of protecting public health, the EPA basically gave the finger to all those who may have been harmed or killed by Roundup by providing Monsanto with the “evidence of innocence” they so desperately need to defend themselves. But now the truth is bubbling out. As reported by Bloomberg:16
“The plaintiffs’ lawyers say Rowland’s communications with Monsanto employees show the regulator who was supposed to be policing the company was actually working on its behalf.
The unsealing of the court documents ‘represents a huge development in public health,’ said Tim Litzenburg, one of the lawyers suing Monsanto.
Regulatory agencies, scientists, consumers and physicians ‘can see some of what Monsanto was actually engaging in behind the scenes, and how they have manipulated the scientific literature to date. That’s important to their decision-making, not just our lawsuits.”
Jenkins went on to write, “I doubt EPA and Jess can kill this, but it’s nice to know they’re going to actually make the effort.” His pessimism was overblown.
Another Monsanto memorandum notes the ATSDR “agreed, for now, to take direction from EPA,” showing Rowland did in fact succeed in his mission to thwart the ATSDR’s glyphosate investigation. Whether Monsanto fashioned him a medal for his feat remains unknown. How Rowland sleeps at night is yet another mystery.
Did Monsanto Ghostwrite EPA Reports on Glyphosate?
Attorneys for the plaintiffs also claim Monsanto employees ghostwrote EPA reports on glyphosate,17,18,19,20 which were then included in the evidence base the EPA relied on to conclude glyphosate is not likely carcinogenic to humans. Monsanto denies the allegations,21 yet some of the correspondence seems incriminating enough. Bloomberg recounts a 2015 email by Monsanto toxicologist Bill Heydens:22
“‘A less expensive/more palatable approach’ is to rely on experts only for some areas of contention, while ‘we ghost-write the Exposure Tox & Genetox sections,’ Heydens wrote to a colleague. The names of outside scientists could be listed on the publication, ‘but we would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and they would just edit & sign their names so to speak,’ according to the email, which goes on to say that’s how Monsanto handled the 2000 study.”
Other emails suggest Monsanto colluded with Syngenta and Dow to publish favorable studies on glyphosate. Monsanto argues that plaintiffs are “cherry-picking” emails among some 10 million pages of documents. But if a killer writes a million emails in his lifetime and admits his crime in one, that singular instance could hardly be written off as cherry-picked evidence. As noted by The New York Times:23
“The disclosures are the latest to raise concerns about the integrity of academic research financed by agrochemical companies. Last year, a review by The New York Times showed how the industry can manipulate academic research or misstate findings. Declarations of interest included in a Monsanto-financed paper on glyphosate that appeared in the journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology said panel members were recruited by a consulting firm.
Email traffic made public shows that Monsanto officials discussed and debated scientists who should be considered, and shaped the project. ‘I think it’s important that people hold Monsanto accountable when they say one thing and it’s completely contradicted by very frank internal documents,’ said Timothy Litzenburg of the Miller Firm, one of the law firms handling the litigation.”
Office of Pesticide Programs Disagrees With EPA Ruling on Glyphosate
Adding fuel to charges of malfeasance at the EPA is an internal memo by the EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) dated December 14, 2015, which makes it clear the ORD disagrees with the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs’ (OPP) determination that glyphosate is “unlikely to be carcinogenic.” The OPP’s opinion was originally published in April 2016. This, according to the OPP, was done in error since the report was not yet finalized, and it was promptly taken down.
However, this did not stop Monsanto from using the report to defend glyphosate’s safety. The ORD memo reveals the department is closely aligned with the IARC’s view on glyphosate, and that ORD scientists raised strong objections against the OPP’s findings, noting the OPP did not follow established international conventions when reviewing glyphosate. As reported by GM Watch:24
“‘Frameworks for data analysis and determination of causality [between exposure to a substance and cancer] that are currently in effect at the EPA and in the risk assessment community include gradations,’ wrote the ORD in its memo. ‘The preliminary opinion of the OPP appears not to follow this approach,’ adds the latter …
[T]he OPP appears to have abandoned the rules for the evaluation of the dangers of a substance to ‘use a yes/no approach which could only lead to describe the substances only as ‘carcinogenic’ or ‘unlikely to be carcinogenic’ for humans. The criticism is very technical, but nonetheless crucial. The EPA classification actually includes, in theory, five different grades:
•Showing suggestive signs of carcinogenicity
•Insufficiently documented for carcinogenicity analysis
•Unlikely to be carcinogenic
Thus there are many nuances that, according to the memorandum of the ORD, disappeared from the preliminary analysis conducted by the OPP.”
No Consensus on Glyphosate Carcinogenicity Among EPA Scientists
The ORD memo admits the evidence of cancer in humans is limited, but stress that animal studies show strong correlation between exposure and cancer, noting that “glyphosate has been tested in several two-year studies in rats or mice. A wide range of tumors have been observed in these studies. Tumors have been observed in the thyroid, liver, skin, pancreas, lymph, testis, mammary gland, kidneys and lung.”
That said, depending on the statistical methods used, the incidence of cancer may be significant or insignificant, and this is a main point of contention. The OPP claims they did not find statistically significant evidence that glyphosate causes cancer, but they didn’t specify which statistical method they used to reach their conclusion. According to the ORD’s memo:
“[T]he category ”unlikely to be carcinogenic to humans’ can without doubt be thrown out. We can discuss whether the level of evidence is sufficiently high for the category ‘probable carcinogen’ … But this classification cannot be rejected.”
As noted by GM Watch:
“Several questions remain: how will the ORD memo … be taken into account in the EPA’s final opinion? Why was the OPP’s preliminary notice published on the agency’s website before being removed a few hours later?
The EPA states that a discussion paper jointly drafted by the two departments was forwarded in September 2016 to a third group of federal experts, whose opinion is expected to be published on 16 March. This new opinion will in turn be revised prior to publication of the EPA’s final official notice.”
Turns out this third group of federal experts —the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) — remain equally split over the issue. On March 16, the report from the SAP meeting was published25 showing a wide range of opinions within the panel. Some feel the “not likely to be carcinogenic” designation should be changed to “suggestive signs of carcinogenicity,” while others argue there’s “no credible evidence of carcinogenicity.”
It still remains to be seen what the EPA’s final and official decision on glyphosate will be, but evidence clearly shows serious collusion between EPA officials and Monsanto has occurred, thereby tainting the entire process and making any determination in glyphosate’s favor highly suspect.
Pesticide Companies Kill Hundreds of Thousands of Children Each Year — Time to End the Massacre!
The EPA carries a tremendous burden. According to two recent reports,26 pesticides like Roundup are taking a major toll on health and life across the globe, and by colluding with pesticide makers to shield them from that liability, the EPA has committed a serious crime against humanity.
According to a recent United Nations (UN) report, pesticides are responsible for 200,000 acute poisoning deaths each year, and chronic exposure has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, hormone disruption, developmental disorders and sterility.27
The report specifically highlights the pesticide industry’s “systematic denial of harms” and “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics,” noting the industry is spending massive amounts of money to influence policymakers and contest scientific evidence showing their products do in fact cause great harm to human and environmental health.
The report also firmly denies the idea that pesticides are essential to ensure sufficient amounts of food for a growing world population, calling the notion “a myth,”28 while highlighting developments in sustainable and regenerative farming showing biology can completely replace chemicals, delivering high yields of nutritious food without detriment to the environment.
The second report, this one by the World Health Organization (WHO), notes environmental pollution — which includes but is not limited to pesticides — kills 1.7 million children each year. A full quarter of all children’s deaths and diseases could be prevented by reducing environmental risks!
Both of these reports offer the same recommendations in regard to agricultural chemicals — reduce or get rid of them altogether. In fact, the UN report goes so far as to propose a global treaty to phase out toxic pesticides and transition to a more sustainable agricultural system.
Donations to Organic Consumers Association TRIPLE-Matched During GMO Awareness Week
During this annual GMO Awareness Week, I strongly encourage you to give the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) your financial support. We are making great headway in promoting organics and fighting for a cleaner, safer food supply, but we cannot do it without your help. This week, you can seriously maximize the impact of your generosity, because I will match each and every dollar you donate to the OCA with $3, up to $250,000.
As noted by OCA in an article commenting on the latest evidence showing what appears to be serious betrayal of consumer trust on behalf of the EPA:29
“Please help keep the pressure on corporations like Monsanto that poison with impunity. We need to raise $200,000 by midnight, March 31, to meet our quarterly online fundraising goal … According to the NYT, while farmers and children exposed to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide were dying from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a high-level EPA official was colluding with Monsanto behind the scenes to hide the truth. And he actually bragged about it …
The only way we will stop Monsanto, and other corporations, from this kind of ruthless disregard for public health is to keep the pressure on — through boycotts, through relentless demands for accountability, and through the courts. We may have lost the battle to label GMOs. But make no mistake — the years of educating consumers about the risks of GMO foods, and the poisons used to grow them, are paying off …
Just this week, a California judge ruled that the state can require Monsanto to label Roundup sold in retail stores as a “possible carcinogen” … OCA, along with another organization, will soon file our own lawsuit against Monsanto — details to be made public soon …”