Recently, a federal court has unsealed documents that cast a dark shadow on the research and safety practices of the chemical company Monsanto. Monsanto’s primary product is Roundup, which is currently being used from large farms to everyday home gardens across the world in order to help kill weeds.
For many years, the use of this product was thought to be moderately safe. Although, recent events in federal court have led the court to the findings of an international panel that claimed the use of the weed killer Roundup, due to its key ingredient glyphosate, may be linked to causing cancer.
The documents were unsealed by Judge Vince Chhabria. He is presiding over a current matter in court where an individual has claimed that their exposure to glyphosate caused the development of their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The unsealing of the once confidential documents has shed light on the hazy techniques and practices undertaken by Monsanto. These communications include emails sent within Monsanto as well as communications between the company and federal regulators. Among other things, these documents indicated that Monsanto may have ghostwritten research which was ultimately accredited to academics in the field. In an email, William Heydens, an executive at Monsanto spoke of this unethical technique, “[Monsanto] would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and they would just edit & sign their names so to speak.”
The court records also show that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Jess Rowland, formerly a manager in the EPA’s pesticide division, who was supposed to be acting in an overseer role of Monsanto may have actually tipped off the company and been working with the company to assist them. A Monsanto executive, Dan Jenkins, was even found to have once communicated that the Monsanto company could use Rowland to their advantage as his retirement approached. Jenkins stated in one communication that Rowland “could be useful as we move forward with ongoing glyphosate defense.”
Monsanto has made the follow statement regarding the alleged connection of their product’s ingredients and cancer: “The allegation that glyphosate can cause cancer in humans is inconsistent with decades of comprehensive safety reviews by the leading regulatory authorities around the world. The plaintiffs have submitted isolated documents that are taken out of context.”