Judge Vince Chhabria of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California recently unsealed important evidence in the pending Multi-District Litigation against Monsanto in which the Plaintiffs allege that exposure to Monsanto’s popular Roundup branded herbicide products.
WHAT DOES THIS EVIDENCE SHOW?
The unsealed evidence includes both internal emails between Monsanto employees and emails between Monsanto and a senior Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official that strongly suggest Monsanto asserted improper influence over the EPA’s recent safety review of Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate. These emails reveal that Monsanto employees were in contact with a senior regulator at the EPA, Jess Rowland, over the EPA’s assessment of the possible health risks of glyphosate. Mr. Rowland was quoted as saying “[i]f I can kill this I should get a medal” – a clear reference to his attempts to kill any new regulations addressing the health risks of glyphosate. Additionally, Monsanto executive William Heydens suggested that the company ghostwrite a new research paper on the topic and implicitly admitted that the company had used this tactic with past glyphosate research.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
The general public relies on the medical community, scientists, and the government to warn them of dangers to public health. When corporations use their positions of power to influence regulators and researchers, these important warnings are often either heavily distorted or fail to reach the public at all. The above story about Monsanto is unfortunately just one of many instances where large corporate interests have suppressed public health information. Another recently discovered example is how the sugar industry-funded research in the 1960s that downplayed the risks of sugar consumption and highlighted the role of a person’s fat intake in the development of a number of diseases. Some people now believe that these industry-funded studies fueled the popularity of low-fat diets that largely ignored the now well-known risks associated with high sugar consumption.
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