Ongoing multidistrict litigation (MDL) in California has shed light on the deception surrounding popular herbicide Roundup. More than 250 million pounds of the product’s main ingredient, glyphosate, is used on home gardens, crops, and roadsides each year, making it by far the most widely used herbicide in America. Court documents from the ongoing MDL show Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, not only did not disclose the dangers of its cash-cow product but actively concealed them.
The New York Times reports internal Monsanto documents released in federal court suggest the company ghost-wrote research on the safety of Roundup that was later attributed to academics. In addition, emails suggest a senior official in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) squashed a review of glyphosate, a phosphonate compound that has no color or smell, that was scheduled to be conducted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. An email reportedly states the company’s contact at the EPA said, “If I can kill this, I should get a medal,” referring to the pending review.
Monsanto’s internal records were unsealed as part of an MDL consolidated in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California containing more than 45 suits claiming Roundup use resulted in the development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). The suits come as the state of California won its own court battle earlier this year against Monsanto to list glyphosate as a human carcinogen and require the company to label its weed killer as a possible cancer threat.
The use of the glyphosate has increased 15-fold since Roundup was first introduced in 1974, according to research in Environmental Sciences Europe. This shows Roundup has a major market share in the chemical herbicide business, and unsurprisingly, it appears Monsanto’s decisions to hide the possibility of glyphosate being a human carcinogen — particularly linked to the development of NHL — is due to corporate greed. When arguing against California placing a warning label on Roundup, Monsanto argued the labels would have “immediate financial consequences,” according to the Associated Press. We are seeing yet another example of a company placing profit over people’s lives.
Despite the mounting evidence, including the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) listing glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” Monsanto is still waiting for its day in court and maintaining glyphosate is not carcinogenic. Meanwhile, it is consumers — the people who use the product in their jobs as farmers, landscapers, and gardeners — that are paying the ultimate price.
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The New York Times
Mass Torts Nexus
Environmental Sciences Europe
The Associated Press
International Agency for the Research on Cancer