Monsanto Gets Continued Government Approval for its Carcinogen Roundup Using Studies Paid for by Monsanto
Last year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization (WHO), determined that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's herbicide Roundup®, is a likely carcinogen. This finding has been reinforced by numerous scientific studies demonstrating that glyphosate has a detrimental effect on the human endocrine system (which produces and regulates hormones). This, in turn, can lead to the development of certain types of cancer, particularly of the lymph nodes.
However, twenty-nine other studies came to a different conclusion. Those studies found that glyphosate had no significant effect on the human endocrine system, despite the fact that laboratory test animals suffered from a number of disorders following exposure. Based on those findings, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared there was “no convincing evidence” that glyphosate had any effect on human health. Representatives for Monsanto are pleased at these “positive safety assessments,” while a scientist at Monsanto said that he was “happy to see that the safety profile of one of our products was upheld by an independent regulatory agency.”
There's one problem, however: the “independent regulatory agency” in question isn't all that “independent” – nor were most of the studies used to justify its conclusions. The dirty little secret is that of the thirty-two studies considered, twenty-seven were either funded or carried out by the herbicide industry itself. Under most definitions, this would constitute a clear conflict of interest. Ironically, the bought-and-paid-for scientists responsible for the studies have conveniently ignored results demonstrating detrimental health effects on test animals – or found reasons to minimize the importance of such findings.
That wasn't enough for the EPA, however. Results from all studies were not made public, and the federal agency even removed its own report from its website earlier in May. The primary reason that the public has even become aware of the situation is that citizen journalists were able to file requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Now that information about the carcinogenic nature of glyphosate is becoming more widely known, resistance to the use of Roundup® and similar chemical herbicides is growing. Based on a survey in the European Union, fully two-thirds of Europeans now want the substance banned. However, like the EPA in the US, the European Parliament is turning a deaf ear to its citizens. This week, the governmental body passed a non-binding resolution that, if implemented, would extend Monsanto's license to market its product in the EU by an additional seven years.
An activist group in Scotland, Global Justice Now, is fighting back. The organization is producing labels for bottles of Roundup® that are nearly identical to the actual product label. The difference is that these labels present truths that Monsanto would rather the public didn't see, including the fact that “The World Health Organisation classifies this product as probably causing cancer” and “Degrades farmers’ power so corporations grow.” Activists are currently going into garden supply shops and home improvement centers in the UK, applying these labels on packages sitting on store shelves. Speaking to the Glasgow Herald, university researcher Steven Rolfe said,
We'll be rebranding Roundup products in garden centres and DIY shops over the next couple of weeks, so that the public can see what they're really buying. The brandalism message will highlight the cancer risk and our concerns about excessive corporate power in food production.
Here at home, Monsanto continues to fight against all efforts to expose its product for the toxin it is. Last December, the company hired a consultancy company in order to dispute the WHO's conclusions. Monsanto is also suing the State of California to stop it from including glyphosate on its list of substances known to cause cancer. As always it seems like it once again will take those stricken by cancer because of Roundup to file litigation against Monsanto and expose the truth, and force change.