Newly-accessible court papers allege that Monsanto manufactured scientific studies affirming the safety of their star product, Roundup, and paid a scientist to publish them. Email exchanges show that ahead of the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s review of Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, Monsanto executive William “Bill” Heydens instructed his staff to ghost-write portions of a study, and then asked scientists to “just sign their names” to the study.
The email exchanges between Monsanto employees took place in February 2015. In the emails, Bill Heydens and his employees prepare for an international review of glyphosate by the IARC, which was scheduled for March 2015. Presumably, Monsanto was aiming to counteract the slew of legitimate scientific studies pointing to glyphosate’s danger ahead of the IARC review of all relevant studies on glyphosate. The emails show Monsanto weighing the cost of paying independent experts to create studies ($250,000) and the cost of “ghost-writing” studies and putting a reputable scientist’s name on the publication.
“A less expensive/more palatable approach might be to involve experts only for the areas of contention...and we ghost-write the Exposure Tox & Genetox sections,” one email reads. In the same email, as he advocates for ghost-writing, Heydens references another ghost-written study on glyphosate from 2000.
In another email chain also involving Bill Heydens, Monsanto allegedly colludes with other major chemical corporations including Syngenta and Dow to publish different studies on Roundup’s safety. Christophe Gustin, Monsanto’s Crop Protection Regulatory Affairs Lead at Monsanto Europe, asked for Syngenta and Dow’s sign-off prior to hiring a scientist to review internal, unpublished studies on Roundup.
Despite Monsanto’s attempts to influence the IARC’s decision in their favor, the agency concluded that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen weeks after this exchange. Since the decision, Monsanto and its allies in the chemical industry have attacked the IARC, calling it an “unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable and foreign body.”
In addition to ghost-writing studies in an attempt to influence the IARC’s conclusions on glyphosate, Monsanto and the chemical industry have spent huge amounts of money attempting to delegitimize the agency. These new emails, coupled with countless well-funded attacks from the chemical industry on independent science, are deeply troubling. Scientific research, and in turn our regulatory system, has become infected by corporate influence. Incredibly powerful companies like Monsanto have the ability to push out their agenda, cloaked in a legitimate white coat.
As the Environmental Protection Agency reviews the safety of glyphosate, the importance of independent scientific studies is clearer than ever. The EPA must throw out these industry-backed studies before determining whether Roundup is a safe product. Our health cannot be bought.