The high probability of collusion between a high-ranking Environmental Protection Agency official and Monsanto managers has prompted the EPA’s Inspector General to mount an investigation.
As reported in Huffpost, the investigation was prompted by a request from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California) to discover if the EPA staffer conspired with the agricultural giant to bias research on glyphosate, a key component of Roundup, the world’s most popular pesticide.
Lieu’s request was based on research documents uncovered in the course of a lawsuit against Monsanto. The research suggested that glyphosate causes cancer, and court documents indicate that the company may have spun research and hired scientists to cover this up.
“As you are aware, there is considerable public interest regarding allegations of such collusion,” wrote Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins Jr. in his response to Lieu. “As a result, I have asked the EPA OIG Office of Investigations to conduct an inquiry into several agency review-related matters.”
Documents released in the lawsuit lawsuit reference internal Monsanto emails mentioning Jess Rowland, who was previously a manager in the EPA’s pesticide division, allegedly boasting to company officials in April 2015 that he could “kill” investigations into glyphosate. A Monsanto regulatory affairs manager sent an email to colleagues that said Rowland had told him, “If I can kill this I should get a medal.”
Monsanto was apparently seeking Rowland’s help at the time to shut down a review of glyphosate within the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The review never took place.
While the EPA, absent such a review, has stated that glyphosate is not carcinogenic, the World Health Organization division focused on cancer (the “International Agency for Research on Cancer,”) issued a conclusion in March 2015 that glyphosate is possibly carcinogenic.
In late May 2017, cancer expert Dr. Christopher Portier, the former associate director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, reported that he had re-examined raw data from animal cancer studies for glyphosate which have been made public.
“A reanalysis of these data show eight instances where significant increases in tumor response following glyphosate exposure were identified, but had not been included in previous cancer assessments by either the European authorities or the U.S. EPA,” said Dr. Portier. “This suggests that the evaluations applied to the glyphosate data are scientifically flawed, and any decisions derived from these evaluations will fail to protect public health.”
Members of the EU Parliament had asked Dr. Portier to review a portion of the proprietary data the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released to them, though he is not allowed to make that data more widely available, Portier told HuffPost. “The lawyers back in the States haven’t seen this.”
He added that the EPA, “have had this information in their files for decades, but they never analyzed the data.”
Following Portier’s findings, four EU members of parliament filed a lawsuit demanding that EFSA make all the data on glyphosate public.
“There should be no place for secrecy in science, especially when it concerns people’s health and our environment,” said Green party food safety spokesperson Bart Staes. “The health of Europe’s people has to be more important than the commercial interests of a few big agricultural firms.”
The agrochemical giant Monsanto has desperately tried to hide research that links Roundup with cancer. Documents revealed through lawsuits show how a respected EPA scientist’s conclusions that Roundup caused cancer were suppressed by the government agency meant to protect our health.
The U.S. Right to Know website revealed a series of bombshell court documents raising serious questions about the weed killer’s safety and the research practices of its producer. Senior Toxicologist Marion Copley worked in the EPA’s Health Effects Division for 30 years. She wrote a letter to an EPA director suggesting glyphosate should be classified as a “probable carcinogen.”
“For once in your life, listen to me and don’t play your political conniving games with the science to favor the registrants,” Copley wrote. “For once do the right thing and don’t make decisions based on how it affects your bonus.
Marion Copley signed off her letter with: “I have cancer, and I don’t want these serious issues to go unaddressed before I go to my grave. I have done my duty.”