Roundup reputation has come under scrutiny after a federal court unsealed documents raising questions about its safety. The documents also put into question the safety and research practices of its manufacturer, Monsanto. The popular weed killer, whose ingredient is the world’s most used, might be a health hazard if the litigation sails through.
Roundup Main Ingredient Might Cause Cancer
Like the rest of the weed killers, Roundup is used around the world including Australia on everything from home garden to row crops. It is indeed one of the Monsanto’s successful products, and it was found to be relative safe by the industry-funded research. This founding comes in spite of the concerns of many Australian doctors, residents and scientists. Litigation in federal court in San Francisco is also challenging that conclusion. The plaintiffs are building their case on the finding of an international agency that claimed Roundup’s main ingredient might cause cancer.
The documents provided to the court include Monsanto’s internal emails and email traffic between the federal regulators and the company. The files provided tangible evidence of an alleged conspiracy to conceal the truth about possible adverse effects of the main ingredient in this weed killer. They suggest that the company had ghost-written research that was later attributed to academics. According to the records, a senior official at the Environment Protection Agency (E.P.A) was involve in stopping any attempted to research on the main ingredient, glyphosate. For instance, United state Department of Health and Human Service was supposed to review the Roundup, but that never happened. According to the report, this was intentionally done to conceal the truth about glyphosate.
According to the files, they have exposed a disagreement within the E.P.A over the authorities own safety assessment. The files were unsealed by Judge Vince Chhabria who is presiding over the case. The plaintiffs claim to have developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (a form of cancer originating from the lymphatic system) after being exposed to glyphosate.
The case was triggered by a determination made by World Health Organisation’s branch, International Agency for Research on cancer, nearly two years ago. This body came to a conclusion that glyphosate was a probable carcinogen and linked it to non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
According to the report, the manufacturer was tipped off to the International Agency for Research on Cancer report by Jess Rowland who was then the deputy division director at the E.P.E. This is why the company managed to launch a public relations assault to counter the report before it was published. The internal email traffic also showed that the Mr Rowland had promised to protect the company’s product from being reviewed by the Department of Health and Human Service. But he asked for a “medal” according to Dan Jenkins (Monsanto executive) emails. This was a case of corrupting the system by Mr Rowland so as to protect Monsanto’s interests.
Though the safety of glyphosate is not settled scientifically, different agencies are already involved in a vicious disagreement with the international cancer agency. European Food Safety Agency and E.P.A are some of the agencies that have dismissed the determination. Monsanto is also leading a vigorous campaign to defend glyphosate.
But the records in the court have also revealed a lot of happenings inside E.P.A, particularly the Office of Research and Development. A lot of concerns about how the Office of Pesticide assessed product were also raised. Important to note was that Mr Rowland was a senior official at the time.
But amid these allegations, Monsanto have maintained that glyphosate is not a carcinogen. In their statement, they defended Roundup and blame the plaintiffs of submitting documents that they believe were out of context.
The outcome will mean a lot to the Roundup’s users. For now wait-and-see would be the best thing for farmers. Whichever way the case goes, it is important to get the facts right. If the records unsealed by the court were anything to go with, then farmers and homeowners in Singapore must be very careful with this wind killer.