Monsanto is currently being sued in a class action lawsuit by plaintiffs who allege its most popular pesticide, Roundup, caused them to develop cancer. A study led by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, seemed to corroborate Roundup’s toxicity in 2015 when it labeled the weed killer’s active ingredient, glyphosate, as carcinogenic.
On Tuesday, the law firm pursing the case against Monsanto released a trove of “secret documents” that demonstrate just how far the agricultural giant is willing to go to prove Roundup isn’t carcinogenic.
The documents, mostly emails and text messages, were temporarily sealed. But a motion to continue keeping them secret expired so the firm, Baum, Hedlund, Aristei, and Goldman, posted several documents online.
In other words: Monsanto forgot or deemed it unnecessary to block the documents’ release. Either way, they’re equally as nefarious as other exchanges pertaining to cases against Monsanto that have been released thus far.
The some 75 documents don’t just make Monsanto look bad, they bring several esteemed academics down as well.
Take the example of Henry I. Miller, a Hoover fellow, advocate of genetically modified crops, and a former FDA employee. Monsanto officials approached Miller about writing an article criticizing the IARC study.
“I would be [interested] if I could start from a high-quality draft,” Miller said. He clearly obliged since Forbes published an article written by Miller that challenged WHO’s study. The New York Times reached out to Miller, but he predictably didn’t respond.
Here’s the Forbes story published under Miller’s name (but was apparently ghostwritten by Monsanto):
Monsanto also “substantially edited” expert panel research. One email from a Monsanto employee, Dr. William Heydens, dictated how a study should be written to discredit WHO’s classification. “Here are my suggested edits to the Draft Combined Manuscript,” Heyden wrote.
Other emails reveal how Monsanto repeatedly sought to either influence or force retractions on stories which characterized glyphosate as cancer-causing. In 2013, Monsanto leveraged its relationship with A. Wallace Hayes, then-editor of Food and Chemical Toxicology, to retract a study linking Roundup to cancer in rats. In other cases Monsanto attempted to payoff scientific journal authors.
Earlier this year Reuters published a supposedly damning story which posited that the academic who led IARC’s inquiry into glyphosate mislead the organization about his findings.
Though, as Carey Gillam of the Huffington Post noted, the journalist who authored the story, Kate Kelland, relied on documents that were likely given to her by Monsanto. The documents Kelland cited were unavailable to the public at the time, but Monsanto had copies. Kelland’s story also relied on a paid consultant and scientist for Monsanto, Bob Tarone.
Monsanto’s continuous effort to discredit WHO’s research, as revealed the numerous published documents, only serves to taint its own insistence that Roundup isn’t toxic. If glyphosate was truly harmless, Monsanto would not have bribe, pressure, or persuade academics to say otherwise.