Last month, court documents revealed that Monsanto worked closely with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect its flagship product, Roundup.
For decades, industry-funded research has concluded that glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup, is safe for humans. But, now we’re learning that may not be the case.
Roundup is the most widely used weed killer in the world. It’s not only used on lawns and gardens, it’s sprayed on crops that you and I eat. Most of us eat glyphosate every day without realizing it. In fact, an estimated 93% of Americans have glyphosate in their bodies, with children having the highest level, according to a 2015 study by the University of California San Francisco.
That’s bad news because, in 2015, glyphosate was declared to be “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO). The organization cited scientific studies linking glyphosate with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. That determination prompted a court case against Monsanto by people claiming to have developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from glyphosate exposure. That case is now in federal court in San Francisco, California.
Emails between Monsanto and federal regulators, including the EPA, were among the documents revealed in court in March. Let me reiterate: This is not my opinion. The following information comes from actual communications that were discovered by the court:
Monsanto never conducted cancer studies on Roundup. Even though Monsanto adamantly claims that Roundup is safe for us to eat and does not cause cancer, Monsanto’s lead toxicologist stated in her deposition that she “cannot say that Roundup does not cause cancer” because “[w]e [Monsanto] have not done the carcinogenicity [cancer] studies with Roundup.”
Monsanto likely wrote research papers in secret and then passed them off as having been written by scientists in academia. A Monsanto executive told other company officials that they could keep costs down by writing research papers themselves and then hiring academics to put their names on the paper: “we would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and they would just edit & sign their names so to speak.”
Scientists within the EPA disagreed over the safety of glyphosate. There was no scientific consensus that glyphosate is safe for humans.
Senior EPA officials killed the review of glyphosate that was supposed to take place by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services planned to conduct a scientific review of the safety of glyphosate. Jess Rowland, Deputy Division Director at the EPA, squashed the review. According to court documents, Mr. Rowland sent an email to Monsanto executive Dan Jenkins stating, “If I can kill this, I should get a medal.” The review was never conducted. In a separate email, Mr. Jenkins told a colleague that Rowland was planning to retire and “could be useful as we move forward with ongoing glyphosate defense.”
In addition, court documents reveal that Jess Rowland, Deputy Division Director at the EPA, gave Monsanto a heads up months before the WHO publicly declared that glyphosate might cause cancer. By tipping off Monsanto, Mr. Rowland effectively bought the company time to craft their rebuttal and launch an advertising campaign. But, Mr. Rowland’s involvement didn’t stop there.
The EPA previously conducted a review of glyphosate. That review concluded there was insufficient evidence linking glyphosate with cancer. According to the court documents, the EPA’s own Office of Research and Development was concerned about the robustness of the glyphosate review. They recommended that the EPA “strengthen” the “human health assessment.” In other words, the safety review of glyphosate was inadequate. Guess who was the senior official of the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs when the safety assessment of glyphosate was conducted?
Yep, Mr. Rowland.
If glyphosate is safe for humans to consume then why the secrecy? Why squash an external review? And, why are senior officials giving companies a heads up when potentially bad publicity is coming their way?
The answer: It’s business as usual.
Sadly, this latest revelation follows a pattern of crony capitalism between companies and the government agencies that are paid with our tax dollars to protect us. That pattern has continued for decades, and is discussed in detail in Hands Off My Food!
Monsanto, of course, denies that glyphosate is harmful to humans and denies that their scientists were ghostwriters for published scientific studies (which are used by the company to back their safety of their product). The EPA, including Mr. Rowland, has been silent since the court documents were revealed.
What You Can Do:
“We the People” have the power to resolve this situation. All we have to do is take back our consent. If you don’t want to eat glyphosate or promote crony capitalism, send a message to the EPA and Monsanto by speaking with your dollars. Stop buying products that contain glyphosate. For example:
In terms of food, choose organic produce. Currently, USDA NOP (National Organic Program) standards do not allow the use of glyphosate on organic crops. In terms of processed foods, USDA organic certified foods are not allowed to contain glyphosate levels that are above the glyphosate residue maximum limit of 5% of the EPA or FDA tolerance for glyphosate. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than the conventional alternatives. A better option, is looking for the “Glyphosate Residue Free” label on your food. By purchasing organic foods, you are “starving” the companies that think it’s okay for us to eat glyphosate and you are “feeding” the companies that believe we should not eat a potential cancer-causing chemical.
In terms of lawn care, instead of spraying chemicals, we pull most of our weeds by hand. And, sometimes we spray organic vinegar diluted with water. But, that solution doesn’t work for everyone. If you currently use Roundup or another glyphosate-containing weed killer on your lawn, you can choose to switch to an organic brand.
http://www.fooddemocracynow.org/blog/2017/mar/20-5 See the Monsanto-EPA emails for yourself: