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Federal Court Unseals Documents in Roundup® Lawsuit

On March 27, 2017

Litigation surrounding Monsanto's Roundup® weed killer pesticide product has faced a lot of uphill battles because of conflicting safety reports. However, a recent court ruling to unseal documents related to the case may make things more difficult for the multinational chemical corporation. According to Monsanto and numerous industry-funded research initiatives, glyphosate, the main chemical ingredient in Roundup, has been found to be relatively safe and pose no imminent health risks to humans. However, according to the recently released documents, the chemical may be known to cause cancer.

The court documents include email correspondence between Monsanto employees and federal regulators that suggest that the company had ghostwritten research that showed the product was safe. Additionally, the documents indicate that a senior official at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had worked on Monsanto's behalf to suppress research into the connection between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Perhaps even more damaging to Monsanto, the documents also show that the company was tipped off about an independent study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which had determined that glyphosate was a probable carcinogen. Jess Rowland, a deputy division director at the EPA, informed Monsanto of the new determination months before it was made public, which allowed the company to prepare their rebuttals well before the findings were published.

Among the internal emails between Monsanto executives, there are several that refer to "saving money by having academics sign their names on research" that had actually been written by the company. This disclosure is yet another in a growing list of concerns about research that is funded by chemical companies. Monsanto has been accused of "hand-selecting" scientists that would be favorable to the company in their findings to be a part of other research initiatives.

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