The active ingredient in Roundup, a weed killer manufactured by Monsanto, is a chemical called glyphosate. The chemical is the most commonly used weed killer in the world. While Roundup’s safety has been upheld by most regulators, it’s claimed in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) pending in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco that the use of Roundup can lead to the development of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Documents released by the MDL Plaintiffs in early August have raised new questions about Monsanto’s efforts to influence the media and scientific researchers with regard to Roundup’s safety. Numerous emails appear to shed light on a practice of misleading authorship on academic research into glyphosate’s potential risks. One academic, John Acquavella, a former Monsanto employee, expressed discomfort with Monsanto’s demands during the research process. In an email to Monsanto, Acquavella stated:

I can’t be part of deceptive authorship on a presentation or publication, and warned that we call that ghost writing and it is unethical.

Other internal emails establish that Monsanto employees had questions about Roundup’s safety. One Monsanto scientist wrote in a 2001 email:

If somebody came to me and said they wanted to test Roundup I know how I would react – with serious concern.

However Monsanto has subsequently claimed that all questions concerning potential ghostwriting and claimed authorship over studies of Roundup’s safety were resolved long before any final drafts were released. According to Scott Patridge, Vice President of Global Strategy for Monsanto, “What you’re seeing here are some cherry-picked things that can be made to look bad.” Plaintiffs in the Roundup MDL call this nonsense, and argue that the newly released documents show that a debate outside Monsanto about the relative safety of glyphosate and Roundup (which contains other chemicals in addition to glyphosate) was also taking place inside the company.

If you would like more information about these cases, you can contact Grant Cofer, a lawyer in our firm’s Toxic Torts Section. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or by email at Grant.Cofer@beasleyallen.com.

Source: The New York Times

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