Did the EPA collude with Monsanto to slow glyphosate safety review?
Email communications obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal that multiple EPA officials colluded with Monsanto to slow a safety review of the company’s glyphosate-based herbicide, Roundup.
Published: August 22, 2017, 8:43 am
A safety review however, has yet to be published, something EcoWatch believes was “no accident, no bureaucratic delay, but rather was the result of a collaborative effort between Monsanto and a group of high-ranking EPA officials”.
Monsanto officials contacted the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in early 2015 regarding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s planned toxicology review of the herbicide containing glyphosate, which the CDC said would be published by October 2015. But the review is being stalled.
The emails were sent only weeks after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer had declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen.
Monsanto’s Michael Dykes contacted the EPA’s Jim Jones regarding the CDC’s planned review. Soon after receiving an email from Dykes, Jones contacted Dr. Patrick Breysse, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, noting that the EPA’s own risk assessment of glyphosate was nearly complete and might render the CDC’s assessment redundant.
Jones suggested to Breysse in his email that two assessments were not “a good use of government resources”. After several months of correspondence, the CDC’s report was suddenly placed “on hold”.
“I think it’s very clear… that EPA officials and Monsanto employees worked together to accomplish a goal of stopping that analysis,” a lawyer representing cancer victims suing Monsanto, told EcoWatch. “That is collusion. I don’t know what else you’d call that,” said Brent Wisner, the victims’ lawyer.
After the CDC’s report was put “on hold”, the EPA released a cancer assessment report contradicting the findings of the IARC. The EPA declared that glyphosate was not likely to cause cancer.
In New Zealand, local scientists were highly critical of the EPA’s review. “It’s really unclear to me why the EPA decided to essentially ignore the IARC report, commission a report by a single author who is just not able to provide the same level of expertise as 17 experts across the globe and then come up with different conclusions,” Jeroen Douwes, director of Massey University’s centre for Public Health Research, told Radio New Zealand.
Douwes said that he wasn’t sure if the EPA was bowing to outside influence or otherwise just simply being “incompetent”.
The FOIA-obtained documents certainly indicate collusion between Monsanto and outside entities to suppress the dangers of glyphosate.
More than 75 documents released by the law firm Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman during the lawsuit against Monsanto on behalf of people who have become ill with non-Hodgkin lymphoma as a result of exposure to the company’s Roundup product show that Monsanto was aware of the dangers of Roundup.
Auckland University professor of epidemiology and biostatistics Alistair Woodward also expressed his surprise at the EPA’s stance.
“This is pretty much the gold standard internationally when it comes to hazard identification in cancer, they put enormous effort into doing it properly so I just think it’s surprising that our agency would try and replicate, on a much smaller scale, what the international agency has already done,” he said.
Jane Goodall, a UN messenger of peace, has written in support of the dangers of glyphosate. “This assessment…is a useful analysis and an example of how EPA regulators appear to be dominated by science that was funded by the agrichemical industry, while independent research linking glyphosate use to cancer in humans and other animals is widely ignored by the agricultural and agrichemical industry,” she wrote.
But the EPA’s chief scientist Jacqueline Rowarth dismissed Goodall’s message as just “an opinion”.
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