A major scientific journal is finally acknowledging the role Monsanto played in a series of studies that refuted a purported link between the company’s Roundup weed killer and certain cancers.
According to Bloomberg News, the move will likely bolster Roundup lawsuit plaintiffs, who have long claimed that Monsanto unduly influenced and even ghost-wrote studies involving glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular herbicide.
In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen, a designation Monsanto strongly disputes.
Last Wednesday, the editor and publisher of Critical Reviews in Toxicology took the unusual step of issuing an “Expression of Concern” in regard to 5 glyphosate research papers that were published in the journal’s 2016 supplemental.
Among other things, the papers were highly critical of the IARC’s 2015 findings regarding glyphosate and cancer.
The “Declaration of Interest Statement” that had accompanied the articles’ publication characterized Monsanto’s involvement as limited to paying a consulting firm to develop the supplement entitled “An Independent Review of the Carcinogenic Potential of Glyphosate.” It also declared that no Monsanto employees or attorneys reviewed manuscripts submitted to the journal.
“We have requested corrigenda from the authors to provide additional disclosure as to contributions to the articles,” the Expression of Concern” states. “To date, we have only received corrigenda for three of the five articles that have been agreed by all authors. We have not received an adequate explanation as to why the necessary level of transparency was not met on first submission.”
The “Expression of Concern” was published nearly a year after the Center for Biological Diversity and three other national environmental health groups demanded the articles be retracted.
At the time, the groups charged that the “Declaration of Interest Statement” had:
“It’s deplorable that Monsanto was the puppet master behind the supposedly ‘independent’ reviews of glyphosate’s safety,” Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a September 27th press release. “These papers were manufactured as a way to counteract the World Health Organization’s findings on glyphosate’s cancer risks. They could mislead the public in dangerous ways and should be completely retracted.”
Monsanto, which was recently acquired by Bayer, is facing more than 9,500 Roundup lawsuits in courts throughout the United States, all of which were filed on behalf of individuals who claim their exposure to glyphosate caused or contributed to the development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers.
In August, a San Francisco Superior Court jury awarded $289 million in compensatory and punitive damages to a former school groundskeeper who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after being exposed to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weed killers, including Roundup, 20-to-30 timers per year during his career.
During the trial, the plaintiff’s attorneys presented internal company emails and other documents which they said proved that Monsanto personnel had been directly involved in organizing, reviewing, and editing drafts of the studies.