For years, Monsanto has been trying to hide the detrimental risks their leading herbicide, Roundup, poses to human health and the environment. Over the years, numerous studies have been published proving that the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, can cause cancer, miscarriages, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and more.
Despite the overwhelming amount of evidence in support of the harmful effects of Roundup, Monsanto continues to monopolize the entire North American seed industry without government intervention. Roundup can be found all over any non-organic food, golf courses, and soil, despite the fact that it is a known carcinogen. However, thanks to a federal court judge in California, Monsanto may finally be tried for its wrongdoings and secrecy, shedding light on the truth about Roundup and the company’s ties to the U.S. government.
The Court Case That May Change the Fate of Monsanto
On February 27, 2017, Judge Vince Chhabria declared to Monsanto that, despite the company’s objections, numerous documents will not be kept sealed and turned over to be used against the company. Judge Chhabria is currently overseeing over 55 lawsuits against Monsanto in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. He even threatened Monsanto that if the company continues to pursue extensive efforts to keep important documents out of the hands of the public, he would impose sanctions.
The court cases were filed as a result of numerous claims that Monsanto’s Roundup caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that originates in the lymphatic system and could potentially be caused by Roundup. These specific lawsuits are being handled together as “multi-district litigation” (MDL) in San Francisco, although there are tons more claims from people all over the U.S. who developed the same type of cancer after being exposed to the herbicide.
“I have a problem with Monsanto, because it’s —- it is insisting that stuff be filed under seal that should not be filed under seal,” Judge Chhabria explained in the hearing. When documents are “relevant to the litigation, they shouldn’t be under seal, even if they are not – are embarrassing to Monsanto, you know, even if Monsanto doesn’t like what they say.”
You can read the full court transcript here.
Another questionable subject that was brought up in the hearing is the fact that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains that glyphosate is “likely not a carcinogen.” Why would the government knowingly support a false claim, as it has been proven that glyphosate can cause cancer? As a result of the EPA’s stance, there was some concern during the hearing as to whether or not those involved in the trial would even believe experts who explain the science behind glyphosate being carcinogenic.
People trust the establishment so readily, yet the EPA has, on numerous occasions, colluded with oil companies and Monsanto, all of which threaten the environment, which the EPA claims to protect. However, this case is expected to blow the lid off Monsanto’s close ties to EPA higher-ups, including Jess Rowland, head of the EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC). A report by that committee was “accidentally” leaked to the public at a time that was favourable to Monsanto given its latest lawsuits.
According to court filings by plaintiffs’ attorneys, discovery documents “strongly suggests that Mr. Rowland’s primary goal was to serve the interests of Monsanto.” Mr. Rowland has yet to publicly address these allegations; however, he has since left the agency and retired.
Plaintiffs state that the litigation has revealed documents proving that Rowland was “straining, and often breaking, ethics and rules to benefit Monsanto’s business.” Internal Monsanto communications exposed that the company pushed this report to be published immediately in order to “preempt other potential actions or inquiries about the dangers of glyphosate,” according to a court filing.
Further proof lies in the form of a letter from a former EPA scientist to Rowland stating that there were significant scientific grounds for the EPA to reclassify glyphosate from a “possible human carcinogen” to a “probable” cancer-causing agent, but clearly Rowland ignored this expert’s opinion (source).
The controversy surrounding the cancer-glyphosate relationship is strange, as even the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen years ago. Numerous studies have proven the cancer-glyphosate link (examples 1, 2, 3), but despite the overwhelming amount of evidence, it is still being debated in U.S. courts.
Fortunately for California consumers, another California judge just ruled against Monsanto in a case that aimed to enforce mandatory cancer warnings on Roundup labels. Judge Kristi Kapetan finalized her ruling last week, confirming that California will now classify glyphosate as a chemical “known to the state to cause cancer,” in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, otherwise known as Proposition 65.
In January 2016, Monsanto filed a lawsuit against the State of California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) over the agency’s notice of intent to list glyphosate as a Prop 65 chemical. After a long battle, the company finally lost and will be forced to put cancer labels on their most popular herbicide, Roundup, in California.
Hopefully, now that these labels will be on their herbicides, the courts can stop debating on whether or not glyphosate is a carcinogen. This will likely bode well for the cases in California, but since many of the claims were made outside of the state where the same laws don’t apply, it may have less of an impact around the country.
Rowland and some of the higher-ups at Monsanto are set to have depositions later in March 2017. A key hearing is set for October 2017, at which time expert witness testimonies are expected to be presented to the judge and then trial dates will likely begin in early 2018 (source).
Just How Toxic Is Roundup for You?
Numerous countries have banned the use of Monsanto’s Roundup, including Russia, Sri Lanka, and much of Europe. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich announced that Russia had “made the decision not to use any GMO in food productions.” This is namely due to safety concerns surrounding GMOs and toxicity of the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate (read more about that in CE article here).
However, in reality, there’s much more to the herbicide to be concerned about. A study published in the journal Biomedical Research International showed that Roundup is 125 times more toxic than its active ingredient glyphosate studied in isolation.(1) The eye-opening abstract reads as follows:
Pesticides are used throughout the world as mixtures called formulations. They contain adjuvants, which are often kept confidential and are called inerts by the manufacturing companies, plus a declared active principle, which is usually tested alone. We tested the toxicity of 9 pesticides, comparing active principles and their formulations, on three human cell lines. Glyphosate, isoproturon, fluroxypyr, pirimicarb, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, tebuconazole, epoxiconazole, and prochloraz constitute, respectively, the active principles of 3 major herbicides, 3 insecticides, and 3 fungicides. Despite its relatively benign reputation, Roundup was among the most toxic herbicides and insecticides tested. Most importantly, 8 formulations out of 9 were up to one thousand times more toxic than their active principles. Our results challenge the relevance of the acceptable daily intake for pesticides because this norm is calculated from the toxicity of the active principle alone. Chronic tests on pesticides may not reflect relevant environmental exposures if only one ingredient of these mixtures is tested alone. (1)
Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), revealed an even more disturbing truth: Glyphosate is possibly “the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies.” Another study suggested that glyphosate can cause celiac disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, kidney failure, miscarriages, infertility, birth defects, obesity, autism, depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer.
“It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides… Despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions.” – R. Mesnage et al., Biomed Research International, Volume 2014 (2014) article ID 179691
It’s not really a surprise that Monsanto refuses to admit the health risks associated with GMOs and Roundup, as the company makes billions of dollars every year from its monopoly on the seed industry. As a result, it’s difficult for consumers to even know when they’re eating GMOs or other products doused in Roundup because there’s a lack of transparency. This isn’t surprising from a corporate perspective; however, it would be reassuring to see the government step in and help the people instead of the corporations.
I think that all of this speaks to corruption inherent in the judiciary system. It has become less about serving the people and more about protecting the corporations. If we could truly trust the government to protect people, then the EPA would not be collaborating with companies like Monsanto. However, perhaps with these new court cases in California, a shift will start to occur and justice will start to be served!