Back in March, we highlighted official evidence divulged in unsealed court documents which seemingly revealed collusion between senior executives at the $60 billion ag-chemicals powerhouse, Monsanto, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to kill "inconvenient" research which suggested that Monsanto's key herbicidal product, RoundUp, might be literally killing people.
We've shared the entire sordid tale below but here is one of the key emails from Jess Rowland, the EPA's Deputy Division Director for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, to a Monsanto executive regarding a piece of damaging research that was pending release:
"If I can kill this I should get a medal."
Apparently those rather unsettling court documents were all that California needed for the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to add RoundUp's key ingredient, Glyphosate, to a list of chemicals known to cause cancer. Per Reuters:
Glyphosate, an herbicide and the active ingredient in Monsanto Co's (MON.N) popular Roundup weed killer, will be added to California's list of chemicals known to cause cancer effective July 7, the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) said on Monday.
Environmental groups cheered OEHHA's move to list the chemical.
"California's decision makes it the national leader in protecting people from cancer-causing pesticides," said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.
And while agriculture may not be the first thing to come to mind when you think of California, many would be shocked to learn that over half of the United States' vegetables, fruits and nuts are grown in the Golden State.
Of course, California's decision doesn't mean that Monsanto has to stop selling their carcinogenic products, they just have to add a tiny label to the bottom of canisters letting consumers know that the product they're holding could kill them.
Listing glyphosate as a known carcinogen under California's Proposition 65 would require companies selling the chemical in the state to add warning labels to packaging. Warnings would also be required if glyphosate is being sprayed at levels deemed unsafe by regulators.
Users of the chemical include landscapers, golf courses, orchards, vineyards and farms.
Monsanto and other glyphosate producers would have roughly a year from the listing date to re-label products or remove them from store shelves if further legal challenges are lost.
Meanwhile, Monsanto has vowed to fight on...because colluding with the EPA to corrupt/kill 'independent' studies simply wasn't a strong enough effort.
Monsanto's appeal of the trial court's ruling is pending.
"This is not the final step in the process, and it has no bearing on the merits of the case. We will continue to aggressively challenge this improper decision," Scott Partridge, Monsanto's vice president of global strategy, said.
That said, we're quite certain that California's well trained and licensed Agricultural Pest Control Advisors (PCA's) would never allow herbicides to be applied in an unsafe manner, right? Afterall, they're 'licensed' and we hear the process to obtain that license is quite 'rigorous'. They would never, for example, spray toxic chemicals during high winds which would allow them to float 4.5 miles and strike a bunch of unsuspecting workers with sudden vomiting attacks and bloody noses...oh wait, that actually did happen.
Whatever, it's probably fine.
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For those who missed it, here is our original note from back in March:
If we had a dime for every kooky, left-wing theory we've heard alleging some vast corporate conspiracy to exploit the treasures of the earth, destroy the environment and poison people with unknown carcinogens all while buying off politicians to cover their tracks, we would be rich. The problem, of course, is that sometimes the kooky conspiracy theories prove to be completely accurate.
Lets take the case of the $60 billion ag-chemicals powerhouse, Monsanto, and their controversial herbicide, Roundup as an example. For those who aren't familiar, Roundup Ready is Monsanto’s blockbuster weedkiller, credited with transforming U.S. agriculture, with a majority of farm production now using genetically modified seeds resistant to the chemical.
For years the company has assured farmers that their weed killing product was absolutely safe to use. As proof, Monsanto touted the approval of the chemical by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
That said, newly unsealed court documents released earlier today seemingly reveal a startling effort on the part of both Monsanto and the EPA to work in concert to kill and/or discredit independent, albeit inconvenient, cancer research conducted by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)....more on this later.
But, before we get into the competing studies, here is a brief look at the 'extensive' work that Monsanto and the EPA did prior to originally declaring Roundup safe for use (hint: not much). As the excerpt below reveals, the EPA effectively declared Roundup safe for use without even conducting tests on the actual formulation, but instead relying on industry research on just one of the product's active ingredients.
"EPA's minimal standards do not require human health data submissions related to the formulated product - here, Roundup. Instead, EPA regulations require only studies and data that relate to the active ingredient, which in the case of Roundup is glyphosate. As a result, the body of scientific literature EPA has reviewed is not only primarily provided by the industry, but it also only considers one part of the chemical ingredients that make up Roundup."
Meanwhile, if that's not enough for you, Donna Farmer, Monsanto's lead toxicologist, even admitted in her deposition that she "cannot say that Roundup does not cause cancer" because "[w]e [Monsanto] have not done the carcinogenicity studies with Roundup."
And just in case you're the super skeptical type, here is Farmer's actual email, from back in 2009, which seems pretty clear:
"you cannot say that Roundup does not cause cancer..we have not done carcinogenicity studies with "Roundup".
And while the revelations above are quite damning by themselves, this is where things get really interesting.
In early 2015, once it became clear that the World Health Organization's IARC was working on their own independent study of Roundup, Monsanto immediately launched their own efforts to preemptively discredit any results that might be deemed 'inconvenient'.
That said, Monsanto, the $60 billion behemoth, couldn't possibly afford the $250,000 bill that would come with conducting a legitimate scientific study led by accredited scientists. Instead, they decided to "ghost-write" key sections of their report themselves and plotted to then have the independent scientists just "sign their names so to speak."
"A less expensive/more palatable approach might be to involve experts only for the areas of contention, epidemiology and possibly MOA (depending on what comes out of the IARC meeting), and we ghost-write the Exposure Tox & Genetox sections...but we would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and they would just edit & sign their names so to speak."
Finally, when all else fails, you call in those "special favors" in Washington D.C. that you've paid handsomely for over the years.
And that's where Jess Rowland, the EPA's Deputy Division Director for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and chair of the Agency's Cancer Assessment Review Committee, comes in to assure you that he's fully exploiting his role as the "chair of the CARC" to kill any potentially damaging research..."if I can kill this I should get a medal."
All of which begs the question of whether the D.C. swamp is just too large to be drained.