Monsanto’s hidden influence? Glyphosate’s future in hands of EPA and the courts

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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Roundup has revolutionized farming. Now, human health and Bayer’s $66 billion deal for Monsanto depend on an honest appraisal of its safety.

[In December 2016], the EPA convened a panel of outside scientists to peer-review the agency’s long-standing conclusion that glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer.

Far from settling the matter, eight of the 15 experts expressed significant concerns about the EPA’s benign view of glyphosate, and three more expressed concerns about the data. Their skepticism also raised, again, questions about the independence of the Office of Pesticide Programs, which has the final say on permitting pesticides.

The question now falls to the Trump EPA and the courts. Led by Administrator Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general who sued the EPA more than a dozen times to stop environmental regulations, the agency has already canceled an Obama-era proposed ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to cognitive damage in farmworkers and children. The chances that Pruitt will move against glyphosate, with all the attendant repercussions for industrial agriculture, appear slim.

The considerations are much different, however, for U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco. The judge is presiding over multidistrict litigation composed of 310 plaintiff lawsuits against Monsanto filed by cancer victims around the country. Chhabria has told both sides that the question of whether Roundup can cause cancer will turn on the scientific evidence presented at trial, not on what agencies such as IARC and EPA say.

[Editor’s note: In this piece, Bloomberg’s reporters make a number of controversial assertions, one referencing the Genetic Literacy Project. Hank Campbell, executive director of the nonprofit American Council on Science and Health responds to some of them in his article excerpted on the GLP, as ACSH was similarly targeted.

The Bloomberg article contains this statement:

Monsanto documents show the company commissioned scientists to publish papers rebutting IARC. Reminiscent of tobacco companies, it also funneled money to front groups, according to a plaintiffs’ court filing. The groups, with names such as Genetic Literacy Project and American Council on Science and Health, published articles praising the EPA and attacking IARC, which they called on Congress to defund.

For the record, the GLP has received no money from Monsanto or any corporation–only individuals and foundations. Our contributions are publicly available in our federal 990s. Contributions for the just-finished fiscal year are also disclosed on our website here. The only source for the accusation that the GLP has received donations from Monsanto or other companies comes in the filing by the plaintiffs in the glyphosate case–in other words, it’s a claim, not a fact. According to court documents, this claim is based entirely on unsubstantiated assertions by the anti-GMO advocacy group USRTK, which acknowledges it has received approximately one half million dollars in support grants from anti-GMO and anti-vaxxer groups, most notably the Organic Consumers Association. Yes, GLP did post articles supporting the EPA’s year long independent review of glyphosate — the most comprehensive review of the health risks of the herbicide performed by any agency in the world.]

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Does the World’s Top Weed Killer Cause Cancer? Trump’s EPA Will Decide

Related article:  Deep dive analysis of glyphosate exposure-cancer link research
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