RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Pierce writes: "There is, at the moment, a massive lawsuit against the Monsanto company regarding Roundup, its most popular pesticide. The company is being sued by citizens who maintain that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is responsible for their cancers. On Tuesday, the judge overseeing the case unsealed some of the documents that have been filed related to the case, and nobody comes out clean-not the company and, sadly, not the EPA, either."

Roundup by Monsanto. (photo: Getty Images)
Roundup by Monsanto. (photo: Getty Images)

The EPA May Have Been in Bed With Big Pesticide for Years

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

20 March 17


The miracles of the discovery process, part infinity.

here is, at the moment, a massive lawsuit against the Monsanto company regarding Roundup, its most popular pesticide. The company is being sued by citizens who maintain that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is responsible for their cancers. On Tuesday, the judge overseeing the case unsealed some of the documents that have been filed related to the case, and nobody comes out clean—not the company and, sadly, not the EPA, either. From The New York Times:

The court documents included Monsanto's internal emails and email traffic between the company and federal regulators. The records suggested that Monsanto had ghostwritten research that was later attributed to academics and indicated that a senior official at the Environmental Protection Agency had worked to quash a review of Roundup's main ingredient, glyphosate, that was to have been conducted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The documents also revealed that there was some disagreement within the E.P.A. over its own safety assessment. In one email unsealed Tuesday, William F. Heydens, a Monsanto executive, told other company officials that they could ghostwrite research on glyphosate by hiring academics to put their names on papers that were actually written by Monsanto. "We would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and they would just edit & sign their names so to speak," Mr. Heydens wrote, citing a previous instance in which he said the company had done this.

Bloomberg has focused in on one particular phone conversation that makes nobody look good.

The boast was made during an April 2015 phone conversation, according to farmers and others who say they've been sickened by the weed killer. After leaving his job as a manager in the EPA's pesticide division last year, Jess Rowland has become a central figure in more than 20 lawsuits in the U.S. accusing the company of failing to warn consumers and regulators of the risk that its glyphosate-based herbicide can cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. "If I can kill this I should get a medal," Rowland told a Monsanto regulatory affairs manager who recounted the conversation in an email to his colleagues, according to a court filing made public Tuesday. The company was seeking Rowland's help stopping an investigation of glyphosate by a separate office, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, that is part of the U.S. Health and Human Service Department, according to the filing.

The good people at DeSmog Blog have a solid review of the curious history that the EPA has with glyphosate, about which the EPA seems curiously ambivalent as regards classifying it as a carcinogen.

For example, why did the EPA determine in 1985 that glyphosate should be classified as a group C carcinogen — possibly cancer-causing in humans but lacking sufficient studies of humans and animals — only to reverse that decision six years later? Did it have anything to do with Monsanto's influence over the agency, or did new studies emerge that cast doubt on previous conclusions? The latter seems less likely considering the fact that the bulk of independent research has reached the same conclusions about the existence of a probable link between Roundup's glyphosate and cancers. Another question that these documents could finally answer is why the EPA has been constantly at odds with the majority of the scientific community over the potential dangers of glyphosate. If, in fact, Monsanto was submitting ghostwritten research to the agency, which then failed to do its own testing, that might explain why the EPA has never found a link (beyond the original determination in the 1980s). The answers to those questions may appear during the ongoing trials against Monsanto and as more documents are released from the trial.

This behavior seems bizarre at best, and ethically dubious at worst, and it happened under the stewardship of the previous administration. I am not optimistic that things will improve under Scott Pruitt, the new EPA administrator, whose campaigns back in Oklahoma were into Monsanto for considerable dough. The discovery process can be a wonderful—if terrifying—thing. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+20 # Moxa 2017-03-20 16:33
It isn't just Trump who is screwing up on food safety. Lest we fall for the myth that Obama had clean hands, let us remember he appointed former vice president of Monsanto (later a lobbyist for the same) to be Commissioner of the FDA. It's a corporatocracy, folks, and has been for a long time.

It's time for a new People's Party. Please sign the petition at
+15 # Radscal 2017-03-20 18:42
I think it was in the 1990s that I first heard Ralph Nader observe that after regulatory agencies are created mitigate the harm done by an industry, eventually and inevitably they end up getting taken over by the very interests they're supposed to protect us from.

Interests will always seek to corrupt any regulatory body. At least, we should make that very difficult.

Instead, we measure a candidate's "electability" by how many "donations" they get. We know that government officials go directly from "service" to lobbying, "consulting," giving highly paid speeches, etc. etc. etc. And even while the official is still in office, their family members and associates get these gigs and others.

Does anyone doubt why politicians from both "major" parties appoint industry insiders to "regulate" their industries?

Citizens of all political leanings understand that corruption is a major... if not THE most harmful problem in government.

Senator Sanders proved that a candidate who speaks to the real issues can run a competitive (and actually a winning) campaign without taking the upfront bribes.
+7 # economagic 2017-03-21 19:23
It was in part that very "embeddedness" of business firms with government that Adam Smith and his contemporaries were inveighing against. Unfortunately they assumed that the urge to cheat for profit would be thwarted by open competition coupled with the milk of human kindness (in the form of a preference for decency over profit), the existence of which Smith otherwise doubted.
+12 # Ken Halt 2017-03-20 22:10
This shouldn't surprise anyone,the aim of the conservative, anti-federalist asendancy begun under prez Ronald Reagan was to make gov't subservient to corporations. The project has been dizzyingly successful, coming to fruition in this administration which shamelessly promotes corporatocracy. Trump's message is "Leave no billionaire behind1"
+12 # 2017-03-20 22:11
None of this is a surprise. EPA itself is a fraud, created in 1970 by Richard Nixon as a buffer between polluters and pesky environmentalis ts, and has been a sink of collusion ever since (apologies to its few honest scientists and whistleblowers) . The long history of dioxin -- the most toxic synthetic molecule ever discovered -- is typical, with Monsanto in the thick of a scandal going back to EPA's origin, preventing any regulatory standard to this day. Pesticide regulation follows the same trajectory, with lab-testing fraud and coverups going back to the 1970s and industry writing EPA's own reports and conclusions. All this and more is thoroughly documented in my book, "A Bitter Fog" and corroborated recently in "Poison Spring," by Evaggelos Vallianatos, a former EPA scientist who saw it all.
+3 # FarMor 2017-03-21 18:52
Thank you. You beat me to the punch re: Nixon and the origins of the EPA. I will look forward to reading your book, having already read "Poison Spring."
0 # Radscal 2017-03-21 21:02
I believe I read that the recent California restrictions on glysophate actually opened up the door for dioxin-based pesticides. Do you know about this?
+10 # Texas Aggie 2017-03-21 05:58
This is just one more reason why Obama's tenure will have a mixed historical record. Not only did he oversee the build up of the surveillance state, but he also did more to incarcerate whistleblowers while at the same time doing nothing about the people having the whistle blown on them. It sort of takes the luster off the ACA and equal treatment for gays.
+5 # lfeuille 2017-03-21 17:49
I say his record leans more toward the dark side. The ACA is a mess. It only looks good next to Trumpcare and I think Justice Kennedy had more to due with gay equality than anyone else. Obama did let it happen without putting up a fight, unlike the Republicans. But being better than Republicans is not an earth shaking accomplishment. I think Obama gets more credit than he deserves because he has style - very important in a movie star but it should be of secondary importance in a president.
+11 # chrisconnolly 2017-03-21 11:14
This is part and parcel of the Milton Friedman free market economics that started in the late '50's. Corporate take over by any means necessary. Poisoning the populace is just collateral damage that should not effect the cost of doing business. Making financial killings is the only goal, pun intended. When money's interest is unfettered, without interference as the free market corporatists see it, nothing like restricting water or crop pollution should be an obstacle.
+10 # AlexG 2017-03-21 11:22
Just by dry-weight measurement, about nine BILLION pounds of various glyphosate/Roun dUP formulations are now used for pest & weed control applications per year, in the US alone. The global use total is vastly higher.

While European scientists are still trying to get ALL formulations of glyphosate products banned in EU markets based on [their] many and ongoing/objecti ve toxicological studies, in the US, Monsanto is still allowed to sell its now-ubiquitous glyphosate poisons based simply on EPA's blanket acceptance of Monsanto's own, in-house safety studies.

And now, with Trump's new anti-EPA Administrator, Pruitt, we can expect gov. regulation of any and all such poisons to be relaxed even further -- i.e., down to zero.

Quite insane.
0 # rradiof 2017-03-21 13:08
Hey Jagoff, this is old news if you are an Infowars listener. Over and out.
+9 # Femihumanist 2017-03-21 15:43
In the early Obama years, at least, the US was threatening countries that refused to allow GMOs with trade sanctions.

Monsanto, meanwhile, has been lobbying against having to label GMO foods. One of the rationale was that labeling would hurt poor people because it would become very expensive if seeds had to be separated. Meanwhile, if seed has any GMO seed mixed in, even if blown in by the wind, they were charging farmers for planting them. So, eventually, every corn (and other) seed in the world would be owned by Monsanto and they could charge for all plantings.


THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.