Talcum-Mesothelioma Verdict $29 Million against Johnson & Johnson

(March 19, 2019)  A California jury awarded a woman a talcum powder-mesothelioma verdict  of $29 million against Johnson & Johnson on March 13.  The woman sued J&J over asbestos contained in the company’s baby powder which, she said, caused her to develop mesothelioma.

Plaintiff Terry Leavitt said she routinely used two of J&J’s talcum powder products in the 1960s and ’70s.  She was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017. Mesothelioma is a cancer linked to asbestos exposure.  The latency period for mesothelioma can be 30-40 years.

The jury deliberated for two days before finding that J&J’s talc-based products were defective and caused Ms. Leavitt’s mesothelioma.  The jury also ruled that J&J failed to warn the public about the risks. The California Superior Court jury in Oakland awarded the plaintiff and her husband $29.4 million in damages.

Thousands of Talc-Cancer Lawsuits

Johnson & Johnson faces thousands of lawsuits which allege that J&J talc-based products have harmed people.  The Leavitt lawsuit was the first to go to trial since December 2018 stories published by Reuters and The New York Times reported that, for several years, J&J had feared that its baby powder might contain asbestos.  The company still denies, as it did throughout the latest trial, that its talcum powder contains asbestos.

J&J said it would appeal the verdict.  Reuters reported that the company claimed the trial was marred by “serious procedural and evidentiary errors.”  J&J also countered in a statement:  “The jury verdicts are not medical, scientific, or regulatory conclusions about a product.”

J&J Executive:  Talc Asbestos Powder

In December 2018, documents showed that J&J knew for decades that its baby powder was laced with small amounts of asbestos.  The deadly material can occur naturally underground near talcum, which is mined.  In the 1970s, a J&J executive warned that the company’s talc mines might not be free of asbestos.  The New York Times reported that a company memo said some of J&J talc products sometimes contained materials that “might be classified as asbestos powder.”

13,000 Lawsuits over J&J Talcum Powder

Recent cases have tested talc’s link to mesothelioma, but many other cases allege talc powder has caused ovarian cancer.  According to Reuters, Johnson & Johnson now faces more than 13,000 talc-related lawsuits nationwide.

$4.7 Billion Talc-Cancer Verdict

In 2018, a jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay 22 women $4.7 billion after  the women alleged that they developed ovarian cancer from using J&J talcum powder products.  More than $4 billion of the jury award consisted of punitive damages, which are designed to punish a defendant for wrongdoing.  In December  2018, J&J failed to convince a judge to throw out that verdict , but the company vowed to appeal that decision.

J&J Denies Talc Contains Asbestos

Despite several jury verdicts over a talc cancer link, J&J has always denied that its talcum has ever contained asbestos.   J&J claims that decades of medical studies have demonstrated that its talc is safe.  J&J has stated:  “Research, clinical evidence and nearly 40 years of studies by independent medical experts around the world continue to support the safety of talc.”

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Monsanto attacks Honest Scientists & Science

More evidence has emerged to show how Monsanto attacks honest scientists and even science itself.  The chemical company giant has long worked to “neutralize” or discredit individuals and organizations when their findings threaten Monsanto profits.

Time and again, Monsanto’s actions behind the scenes impugn the chemical company’s endless “on- message” claim that Roundup is safe, doesn’t cause cancer, and no evidence exists anywhere to show that it does cause cancer.

The big message problem for Monsanto is that its own duplicitous conduct is well known on many fronts.  It begs the simple question:  If Roundup is as safe as advertised, then why has Monsanto worked so very hard to attack any scientists and any scientific findings showing Roundup causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?  Monsanto’s messaging problems abound and grow by the day.  Here is just a small sampling:

  • Why has Monsanto hired ghost writers like Henry Miller, the bogus Stanford academic, to attack organic foods and organic farming in mainstream publications like Newsweek?
  • Why does Monsanto secretly attack anti-GMO Activists?
  • Why did Monsanto try to destroy French researcher Dr. Giles Seralini after he performed a rat study which showed GMO corn gave rats hideous tumors?
  • Why did Monsanto use its press minions to attack Carey Gilliam, a brave and honest writer who has published a superbly-researched book on Monsanto titled, “Whitewash — The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science.
  • Why has Monsanto worked behind the scenes with EPA regulators to quash at least one Roundup safety study?
  • Why did a Monsanto executive feed a Reuters reporter fake news that defamed the International Agency for Research on Cancer and one of its scientists, after the IARC declared glyphosate a probable carcinogen?
  • Why has Forbes magazine had to pull fake news stories (on at least two occasions) that maligned, misrepresented, and attacked researchers who pointed out the dangers of Roundup?
  • Why did Monsanto use an industry hack named Geoffrey Kabat to attack research which showed Roundup increases non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma risk by 41 percent? Kabat accused the authors of cherry-picking data, and he made other patently false statements, all while failing to disclose his ties to the industry.
  • Why has Monsanto attacked those who prove that the industrial farming methods Monsanto promotes strip soil of nutrients that form the most basic building blocks of environmental, human, and animal health?

Forbes magazine – which has published several articles defending Monsanto – published Mr. Kabat’s scathing review of the meta-analysis showing Roundup increased cancer risk, and then later pulled the article.  Why did Forbes pull the piece?  Because it was full of falsehoods, like so much of Monsanto’s propaganda that its press minions get paid to fling.  It was the second time in recent memory that Forbes was forced to pull Monsanto propaganda which Forbes had initially represented as “news.”

There was nothing honest about Geoffrey Kabat’s diatribe, just as there is nothing honest about Monsanto’s position that glyphosate is safe and no studies prove otherwise.  Even a federal judge who has shown himself more than sympathetic to Monsanto’s arguments – curiously “bifurcating” the first federal Roundup trial – was forced this week to admit the plain truth.  The judge denied a request from Monsanto’s lawyers to grant a summary judgment which would have ended the trial in Monsanto’s favor.

Yes, even the federal judge who had favored Monsanto by severely handicapping the plaintiff’s side with “bifurcation” wrote:

“[T]he plaintiffs have presented a great deal of evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of its product. (Although) the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue.”

Those are strong words from a judge who had once worked for a law firm that defended Monsanto.  His bifurcation of the trial meant the jury was not able to hear about Monsanto’s reckless attitude toward safeguarding the public.   They were unable to hear trial evidence of how Monsanto had more interest in manipulating public opinion than getting at any underlying truths.  The jury did not hear evidence of how Monsanto was most interested in undermining anyone with “genuine and legitimate” concerns about Roundup.

The six jurors will be allowed to hear some of that evidence of Monsanto’s propagandizing and reckless disregard only if they decide unanimously that Roundup caused the plaintiff’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  The jury began deliberations on March 13, 2019.  They will resume deliberations again on Friday, March 15.

One can only hope now that the bifurcated trial arrangement will not hinder the jury’s arriving at the truth of the matter, despite being allowed to hear only a fraction of the whole story in this first phase of the trial.

In this first phase, only if all six jurors unanimously agree that Roundup was the principal cause of the plaintiff’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, will they then be allowed to move to a second, damages phase.  If and only if they make it that far, will they then be allowed to hear at least some of the truth behind Monsanto’s behind-the-scenes manipulations, of Monsanto’s attacks on honest scientists, of its never-ending maneuvers to manipulate the actual reporting of the science itself.

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Shocker: FDA hides Thousands of Medical Device Problems

(March 8, 2019) A shocking report from Kaiser Health News has found that the FDA hides thousands of medical device problems from patients and their doctors.  The FDA has, for nearly two decades, allowed medical device companies to file reports of injuries and malfunctions outside the well-known public database known as MAUDE, Manufacturer And User Device Experience Database.  The FDA, in effect, has been shown to keep separate sets of books: one, a heavily-censored and incomplete public set accessible to patients and providers; the other, a private and more complete (and therefore more relevant) set accessible only to some medical device manufacturers.

 “No matter how cynical you get, you just can’t keep up.”  – Lilly Tomlin

“Alternative Summary Reporting” Subterfuge

The FDA’s bookkeeping subterfuge – which the agency euphemistically calls “alternative summary reporting” – seriously compromises any legitimacy the FDA and MAUDE may have offered, which is an alarming development, to say the least.  Many medical experts have trusted the FDA and MAUDE to identify problems that could put patients in peril.

FDA records provided to KHN show that more than 480,000 injuries or malfunctions were reported through the alternative summary reporting program in 2017. That means no doctors or patients saw those reports, or that they saw only a tiny fraction of them if they were similar to other reports made on the same type of device.

Dangerous Devices Lead to Secret Program

According to officials with FDA at the time, “alternative summary reporting” began two decades ago to cut down on redundant paperwork.  Former FDA official David Kessler said the program took shape after scandals over under-reporting of device problems spurred changes that allowed criminal penalties against medical device companies.

Thousands of injury and malfunction reports began coming to the agency each month. Kessler said some 15 staff members reviewed them. He said many reports were so similar that reviewing them individually was “mind-numbing.”  Kessler went to the FDA’s legal department and to device makers for a solution.  Medical device makers then wrote their own ticket; they would be able to seek a special “exemption” to avoid reporting certain complications to the public database. The manufacturers would instead send the FDA a spreadsheet of injury or malfunctions each quarter, half-year, or year. Nobody but the FDA would be able to put the actual injury numbers together after that, or the total number of adverse events.  The agency would no longer share those real numbers with the public, with patients and medical providers.

Kessler said reviewers could then quickly look for new problems or spikes in known issues. (They would no longer be bogged down by actual reports, real numbers, total adverse events and injuries that were “redundant.” ) When the program launched in 2000, the list of exempted devices was made public and only a few devices were involved, according to Kessler.

Few people even within the FDA knew about the program then or now, and that list Kessler mentions as being public then is no longer public. We do know, however, that transvaginal mesh makers are now part of it, able to hide the actual number of women injured by the controversial plastic mesh used for pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.

Starting in September, KHN filed Freedom of Information Act requests for “exemption” agreements and reports for several medical devices. Health and Human Services officials denied an appeal to provide some of the records quickly, concluding there was no “compelling need” for haste. For one request, the records were estimated to arrive in 22 months.

The FDA did provide some top-level data. It shows that from 2014 through 2017, the overall number of alternative summary reports filed by device makers rose from 431,000 to 481,000.

FDA Unplugged

The Kaiser Health News story suggests the FDA’s reporting deception was not uncovered until a surgeon performed his due diligence after a device he had used failed.

“Special Exemption” 

Dr. Douglas Kwazneski experienced a stapler malfunction during a liver surgery.  He then researched other possible adverse events involving the stapler.  He checked the FDA’s MAUDE database.  He found “there was nothing.”   But then he surveyed leading surgeons.  Two-thirds of them told him they had also experienced stapler malfunctions, or they knew a peer who had.

Dr. Kwazneski then discovered that the FDA had granted the makers of surgical staplers a special “exemption.”  This arcane arrangement allowed the device maker to file reports of malfunctions in a database hidden from both doctors and the public.

FDA Covers up 1.1 Million Events 

“[I]t seemed like a coverup,”  said Dr. Kwazneski, who practiced at the time in Pasco County, Florida.

Worse, the KHN investigation shows FDA has built and expanded a vast and hidden repository of reports on device-related injuries and malfunctions.  At least 1.1 million incidents have flowed into the internal “alternative summary reporting” repository since 2016.  They all but disappear there, instead of being described individually in the publically accessible MAUDE database.

The hidden database has included serious injury and malfunction reports for about 100 medical devices, according to the FDA. Many of those were implanted in patients or used in thousands of surgeries. The adverse event reports for surgical devices have included surgical staplers, balloon pumps for blood circulation, and mechanical breathing machines.

An FDA official said that the program is for issues that are “well-known and well-documented with the FDA” and that it was reformed in 2017 as a new voluntary summary reporting program was put in place for up to 5,600 devices.  “Voluntary?”

Secret Program

KHN notes that the FDA’s secret reporting program has been so obscure that many of the doctors and engineers dedicated to improving device safety don’t even know about it. Even a former FDA commissioner said he knew nothing about it.

Give the Kaiser Health News team all the credit.  They dug through abstruse piles of public records to find “oblique references to reporting exemptions.”  They had to ask the FDA questions for months before the erstwhile “public” agency finally confirmed that it supervised “reporting-exemption” programs and helped hide thousands of never-before-acknowledged instances of malfunctions or harm.

FDA Information Blackout Harms People

FDA records show that amid the agency’s blackout on information regarding device risks, patients have been injured, in some cases hundreds of times.

A former FDA official. Dr. Lori S. Brown, who accessed the data for her research, said doctors who relied solely on the FDA’s incomplete public reports could easily reach the wrong conclusion about a device’s safety record.

KHN wrote, “The FDA has also opened additional – and equally obscure – pathways for device makers to report thousands of injuries brought to light by lawsuits or even deaths that appear in private registries that medical societies use to track patients. Those exemptions apply to risky and controversial products, including pelvic mesh and devices implanted in the heart.”

FDA spokeswoman Deborah Kotz confirmed that the “registry exemption” was created without any public notice or regulations.  “Any device manufacturer can request an exemption from its reporting requirements,” she said in an email.

That’s hardly the stuff to build consumer confidence about medical device safety.

480,000 Hidden Reports in 2017

FDA records provided to KHN show that more than 480,000 injuries or malfunctions were reported through the alternative summary reporting program in 2017 alone.

FDA spokeswoman Alison Hunt said the majority of device makers’ “exemptions” were revoked that year as a program took shape that requires a “placeholder” report to be filed publicly.

1 Million+ Reports Hidden by FDA

More than a million reports of malfunctions or harm spanning about 15 years remain in a database accessible only to the FDA.  But with the agency’s alleged new “transparency” push,” anyone unlucky enough to need a medical device (there are always alternatives)  might be able to find a public report and submit a Freedom of Information Act request to get information about incidents.  A response can take up to two years.

Ms. Hunt said in an email to KHN that the exemption program “has allowed the FDA to more efficiently review adverse events … and take action when warranted without sacrificing the quality of our review or the information we receive.”

The “quality” of the FDA’s review of any medical device is so obviously compromised with the unveiling of the agency’s secret reporting program that such explanations would be laughable if the situation it has created weren’t so dangerous and irresponsible.

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Monsanto Roundup likely Caused Cancer, Pathologist testifies

(March 7, 2019)  Monsanto’s Roundup likely caused a California man’s cancer, a pathologist testified in a federal courtroom yesterday.  Dorothy Atkins reported for Law360 that the pathologist testified that it is “more likely than not” that Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer poison caused a man to be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). The testimony refuted Monsanto’s claim that hepatitis C, weight, and age caused the (now 70-year-old) plaintiff’s cancer.

Dr. Dennis Weisenburger explained to jurors in San Francisco that plaintiff Ed Hardeman was treated for hepatitis C within a year of contracting it.  Dr. W. said that early treatment significantly reduced Mr. Hardeman’s risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma from the virus.  Dr. Weisenburger also testified that any cells damaged by the Hep-C virus would have died off when the man was cured of that disease in 2006.  He rejected Monsanto’s claim that Mr. Hardeman’s 2015 NHL diagnosis was caused by hepatitis.

NHL Diagnosis Nine Years Too Late for Monsanto

“If he was going to get lymphoma, he would have gotten it when he had the infection, not nine years after he was cured,” Dr. Weisenburger testified.

Dr. Weisenburger is one of the last experts to testify before Mr. Hardeman’s attorneys rest the first part of his case in the controversial bifurcated trial arrangement which District Judge Vince Chhabria agreed to assemble at the request of Monsanto’s attorneys and against the strong objections of the plaintiff’s side.

Related: MonsantoLawsuit.com

Arcane Bifurcated Arrangement Censors Plaintiff’s Side

In the arcane “bifurcated” arrangement of this first federal trial in the Monsanto Roundup litigation, the plaintiff’s side may not bring to the jury’s attention any of the mountain of evidence which shows Monsanto’s behind-the-scenes moves to censor or attack any research or organization deemed a threat to Monsanto profits.  That arrangement severely handicaps the plaintiff’s side.  One cannot fairly present Monsanto’s brand of “science” without simultaneously showing how the company manipulates it, promotes the views of its own paid scientists, and attacks with its well-paid media minions any scientist or organization that questions Roundup safety.

Bifurcation in this case means that the jury will not hear about any of Monsanto’s behind-the-scenes manipulations unless the jury first rules, solely on the basis of “scientific” grounds, that Roundup caused Mr. Hardeman’s NHL.  Without any doubt, censoring all the damning information that we now know about Monsanto’s real actions to manipulate science and public opinion decidedly favors the company.  It allows Monsanto lawyers to repeat the company’s default defense that “hundreds of studies” prove Roundup is safe enough to drink, or that Roundup is as safe as table salt (a false, claim along with many others, that Monsanto was forced to retract in New York state.  Because virtually all of those Monsanto studies were short-term and were virtually all sponsored by Monsanto, the WHO refused to include them in its evaluation which concluded in a 2015 assessment that Roundup is a probable human carcinogen.

The Monsanto Papers

A mounting pile of evidence from internal documents revealed in “The Monsanto Papers” and elsewhere has shown how Monsanto propaganda clouds and poisons – like mustard gas in WWI trenches – the worldwide fight over Roundup.  Monsanto or its proxies have been shown to manipulate news outlets like Reuters, Newsweek, Fortune, and others around the world; email secretly with EPA regulators to derail or influence Roundup safety studies; hire bloggers to attack anyone or any organization that questions the safety of Monsanto’s products; entice academic ghostwriters and blogger goons to put their names on pro-GMO propaganda; move Monsanto employees through a revolving employment door between the FDA and the company, compromising regulatory agencies with industry monies.

Ed Hardeman’s case is the first to go to trial where hundreds of similar lawsuits have been filed in the multidistrict litigation court overseen by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria.  Claimants all share the same injury, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and all claim that injury resulted from their exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup and Ranger Pro herbicides, which are classified as pesticides by EPA.

Mr. Hardeman testified on March 5, 2019 that he used Roundup to kill weeds and poison oak on his 56-acre property in Santa Rosa, California.  He said he used it for 25+ years, between 1986 and 2012.  The spray’s mist often fell on his skin and face, he testified.  Mr. Hardeman was diagnosed at age 66 with stage 3 cancer on Feb. 14, 2015.  He has undergone cancer treatment.

Dr. Weisenburger, who took the stand March 6, has published more than 50 research papers on causes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He noted during his direct examination that less than 1 percent of patients with chronic hepatitis C develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 10 years.  He said those patients have a “much higher” risk of getting liver cancer. He said that age and being overweight are minor risks for developing NHL. He added that obesity increases the risk of getting the cancer by 30 percent “at most.”

Monsanto Attorneys Cross Examination

In cross-examination, Monsanto’s attorney, Brian L. Stekloff, tried to discredit Dr. Weisenburger’s testimony.  Mr. Stekloff asked him what doctors and pathologists know about the biological impact of having hepatitis for decades.

Dr. Weisenburger said there’s no way to tell by looking at a damaged cell if the damage is due to Roundup exposure.  He further conceded that the “vast majority” of patients’ diagnosed with NHL don’t get it from Roundup exposure. The doctor also admitted that he could not completely rule out that Mr. Hardeman’s decades-long chronic hepatitis B could have contributed to his NHL.

Mr. Stekloff also tried to cast doubt on studies that showed links to Roundup exposure and NHL. He pointed out that test subjects who developed NHL were diagnosed a few years after Roundup came on the market in 1974, not 20 years later, which Dr. Weisenburger claims is the cancer’s latency period following Roundup exposure.  However, Dr. Weisenburger responded that the 20-25 year latency period is just a guess, as it’s the median; so that all the test subjects in the studies at issue still fell within the bell curve.

Dr. Weisenburger also said he didn’t know the cause of cancer for 70 percent of the 1,000 NHL patients he has treated.  But the pathologist said repeatedly that doctors don’t look at the history of patients closely.  He said physicians often don’t know the cause of cancer, because they don’t pursue it in detail.

“Physicians don’t ask about Roundup,” said the pathologist. “They don’t even ask about pesticides.”

Monsanto’s own health assessment “will be inaccurate”

After Dr. Weisenburger’s testimony, Mr. Hardeman’s attorneys showed a video deposition clip of Monsanto’s corporate representative Bill Reeves. Mr. Hardeman’s attorney questioned Mr. Reeves about a 1997 letter from an in-house Monsanto epidemiologist who wrote that the exposure assessment in a decades long agricultural health study “will be inaccurate.”  Monsanto has used the study to counter Mr. Hardeman’s allegations.

Mr. Wisner also pointed out a 1986 document in which the US EPA told Monsanto its mouse study testing the safety of glyphosate was based on insufficient data and needed to be redone.

The trial is expected to last into at least the middle of next week if Monsanto wins this first phase, and there will be no second phase for damages in the bifurcation arrangement if the plaintiff fails to win this first truncated round.

Though this is the first trial against Monsanto for Roundup in a federal court, there has been one previous Roundup trial in a state court, last summer in California.  In that case last summer, a state jury hit Monsanto with a $289 million verdict.  It was later slashed by tort reform to $78 million and is on appeal.  Monsanto has yet to pay out any monies over Roundup.

The case is Hardeman v. Monsanto Co. et al., case number 3:16-cv-00525, and the MDL is In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, case number 3:16-md-02741, both in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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Monsanto Trial Judge rips Plaintiff Attorney’s “Steely” Composure

(Feb. 27, 2019)  A California judge running the first federal court trial in the Monsanto Roundup litigation ripped into a plaintiff’s attorney for her “composure” after he repeatedly interrupted her during her opening argument Monday.  Judge Vince Chhabria (unpronounceable) interrupted the plaintiff’s attorney Amy Wagstaff over and over again as she attempted to open her client’s case for the jury.  The judge later criticized her “steely composure” in responding to his interruptions, and finally he threatened to issue sanctions against the woman as well as her law firm.

Steely Composure proves actions in bad faith and intentional
Judge Chhabria said that Ms. Wagstaff’s actions were in bad faith and intentional. How did the judge know her actions were in bad faith and intentional? Because, the judge said, the woman showed “steely” composure in reacting to his interruptions.

(Editor’s Note: We relate this story directly from the record as it was reported by Dorothy Atkins for Law 360, a publication which, like Judge C., tends to weigh – and share – most evidentiary matters decidedly in favor of Monsanto.)

Bifurcation Blues
The judge’s prior ruling to bifurcate this Roundup cancer trial – at the request of Monsanto’s lawyers – was the clear catalyst for this messy opening scene of the first Roundup trial to be heard in a federal court.  Judge Chhabria ruled before the trial began that it would proceed differently than the first trial, which didn’t work out well for Monsanto.  The first Roundup trial last summer in California brought a former groundskeeper a $289 million verdict (later reduced to $78 million) against Monsanto, though that entire verdict is still (of course) on appeal.

For this second Roundup-Lymphoma trial and the first in a federal court, Judge Chhabria agreed with Monsanto lawyers to split the proceedings into two parts, the first for causation, the second for damages.   In this rare and controversial (to say the least) setup, the jury will first hear only those arguments which relate directly to the science of causation. (That seems fair, at first blush, but wait and hear the whole story.)  If, looking only at the causation “science,” the jury determines that Roundup caused the plaintiff’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, then they will also be allowed to hear – in a potential second phase of the trial – about some of Monsanto’s machinations to manipulate the “science” and propagandize to sway public opinion.

In the first trial, the jury was allowed to hear “the whole story” – both the plaintiff’s whole story and Monsanto’s whole story – from the start.  Why did this judge decide to change that simple formula?

Science Divorced from Reality
While bifurcating the trial into two parts – divorcing the science from Monsanto’s behind-the-scenes manipulations – might seem like a fair approach in some sense, the overarching problem with the bifurcation ruling is that the science of Roundup safety cannot be divorced from Monsanto’s machinations to manipulate that “science.” And this is why we need to put that word in quotation marks the rest of the way.  “Science” cannot be divorced today (if it ever could) from politics, or from the considerable money that works so hard to control “scientific findings.”

The jury in the first trial was able to hear, from the start, from the plaintiff’s attorney, the simple question:  “If Monsanto’s Roundup is so safe and the science behind its safety is as strong as Monsanto says it is, then why did the company need to work so hard to ghostwrite articles for academics to sign; hire editors at ostensibly objective publications who could then work as gatekeepers to deny space to anyone showing the danger of Monsanto’s products; retract peer-reviewed and published information when it threatened Monsanto’s business model? Why did Monsanto need to secretly contact EPA employees and secure the quashing of safety studies?  Why does Monsanto hire bloggers and internet trolls to attack citizen researchers who uncover evidence of the dangers of Roundup?  Why does Monsanto continue to feed fake news to Reuters and other worldwide publications to defend its products and attack its detractors? Why does Monsanto spend millions of dollars to defeat food labeling bills?

The Impossibility of Bifurcation
Though this jury may never hear any of them, examples of Monsanto’s behind-the-scenes manipulations of “science” are legion.  Just one case alone will serve to show just how Monsanto poisons the well of honest scientific discourse and research into the safety of its products.

Monsanto Manipulation and Dr. Giles Seralini


Monsanto’s work to discredit and neutralize Dr. Giles Séralini is instructive of how the biotech giant does business. Dr. Séralini found that Monsanto’s GM maize caused massive tumors in rats, and he published those findings in a peer-reviewed science journal. Rats from all over the world at the behest of Monsanto then attacked Dr. Séralini and his study, and a Monsanto minion secured an editorial post at the publication and then had the threatening paper retracted. That retraction then caused an uproar from honest scientists everywhere, so that the paper was then re-peer-reviewed and then re-published in another science journal.

A French Member of the European Parliament and France’s former minister for the environment, Corinne Lepage, explained that the Séralini study exposed the weakness of industry studies conducted for regulatory authorization. The GM maize had previously been judged safe by regulators around the world, including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Institute for Responsible Technology

The Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) explains that Dr. Séralini became the center of an “[E]pic struggle between independent science and corporate hegemony. The scientific journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology, which first published his study, had retracted the article following an orchestrated campaign by thinly disguised biotech promoters. The article was later re-published in June 2014 in the journal, Environmental Sciences Europe.”

IRT notes also that another Monsanto minion of a scientist, “[F]ormer chairman of France’s Biomolecular Engineering Commission, Marc Fellous, was then exposed in a libel trial that he lost to Dr. Séralini just last year for using or copying Séralini’s signature without his agreement to argue that Séralini and his co-researchers were wrong in their reassessment of Monsanto studies. The Séralini team’s re-assessment reported finding signs of toxicity in the raw data from Monsanto’s own rat feeding studies with GM maize (corn).”

Monsanto Trial Judge rips Plaintiff Attorney’s “Steely” Composure

The Dr. Séralini story proves – definitively, and all by itself – that there is simply no way for U.S. federal Judge Vincent Chhabria, or anybody else, to “bifurcate” a trial that separates science and causation from Monsanto’s propagandizing machinations.  Monsanto’s actions have proven again and again that science and propaganda are inextricably linked. That IS the story of Monsanto’s Roundup, and why any jury that hears these cases needs to be given both and all sides of the entire story, in order to decide for themselves what real “science” does and does not say.

Let us, the American people, hear the whole story, Judge. We’re as smart as you, and we deserve to hear the whole truth, and then decide for ourselves what is right, and what is not.  The truth of Monsanto’s rat experiments on us all will not be silenced by you or anybody else.

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Monsanto Poison Glyphosate contaminates Wine and Beer

(Feb. 26, 2019)  A Monsanto poison contaminates most of the wine and beer sold in the United States, according to a recent study by U.S. Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG).  Glyphosate, the main active ingredient in Roundup – which impairs human gut health and is linked with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a host of other maladies – was found to contaminate every conventionally produced wine and beer tested in a recent study, as well as most organic beer and wine samples.

Glyphosate Contamination Epidemic

PIRG tested 20 different wine and beer samples in the U.S., finding glyphosate contamination in 19 of them, including most organic wine samples.  Just one product they tested, an organic beer, was found to have no glyphosate contamination.  Some mildly good news for organic wine and beer lovers is that the organic beer and wines tested were found to have far less glyphosate than conventionally-produced beverages.

Good news was hard to come by in this study. Is anyone paying attention? Why would anyone pay $100 for a bottle of glyphosate-contaminated California wine, or even $10 for that matter?

Glyphosate Poison Everywhere

The presence of glyphosate pesticide even in organic products proved once again just how widespread glyphosate contamination is in the country.  Organic beer and wine producers do not intentionally use any glyphosate in their products, and they do their best to avoid the chemical, for obvious reasons.

The Findings

Wines

  1. Sutter Home Merlot – 51.4 ppb
  2. Beringer Estates Moscato – 42.6 ppb
  3. Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon – 36.3 ppb
  4. Inkarri Estates Malbec (Organic) – 5.3 ppb
  5. Frey Organic Natural White –4.8 ppb

Beers

  1. Coors Light –  1 ppb
  2. Tsingtao Beer – 49.7 ppb
  3. Miller Lite – 29.8 ppb
  4. Budweiser – 27.0 ppb
  5. Corona Extra – 25.1 ppb
  6. Heineken – 20.9 ppb
  7. Guinness Draught – 20.3 ppb
  8. Stella Artois – 18.7 ppb
  9. Stella Artois Cidre – 9.1 ppb
  10. Ace Perry Hard Cider – 14.5 ppb
  11. New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale – 11.2 ppb
  12. Sam Adams New England IPA – 11.0 ppb
  13. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – 11.8 ppb
  14. Samuel Smith’s Organic Lager – 5.7 ppb
  15. Peak Beer Organic IPA – no detected level

Glyphosate at 1 ppt is Problematic

Human tolerance for glyphosate may be much lower than the U.S. EPA claims, especially as one considers the secret and not-so-secret relationships some EPA officials, U.S. politicos, judges, and journalists share and have shared with Monsanto executives.

The levels of glyphosate found in these latest beer and wine tests were below EPA risk tolerances for beverages (for what that’s worth from a captured agency).   However, in one study, scientists found that 1 part per trillion (ppt) of glyphosate has the potential to stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells and disrupt the endocrine system.  German scientists have shown that 0.1 ppb of glyphosate has the potential to destroy beneficial gut bacteria while pathogenic gut bacteria were resistant.  Furthermore, 0.1 ppb of glyphosate has also been shown to stimulate the proliferation of certain types of breast cancer cells.

PIRG calls for Glyphosate Ban

In short, no safe level for glyphosate has ever been proven.  The researchers recommend that the EPA ban the use of glyphosate unless and until it can be proven safe.

Public Interest Research Groups

Founded by consumer advocate Ralph Nader  in 1971, PIRG’s motto is “Standing up to Powerful Interests.”  PIRGs are a federation of non-profit U.S. and Canadian organizations that use grassroots organizing and direct advocacy with the goal of effecting political change.

Someone needs to do this important work to safeguard our health, because it is not currently being done by the government institutions we entrust to do it – the EPA and the FDA.  Both of those agencies continue to show a fealty to Monsanto that comes at the considerable expense of people, animals, birds, bees, plants, and other living things throughout the world.

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Matthews & Associates – Best Law Firms in America

Matthews & Associates Law Firm has been chosen as one of the Best Law Firms in America by U.S. News & World Report.  The distinction is awarded as a result of feedback from clients, professional references, and lawyers across the country.  Matthews & Associates is honored in 2019 as a Tier 1 firm representing plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits.

For eligibility, a  law firm must have at least one attorney who is recognized in the current edition of Best Lawyers in a “Best Law Firms” ranked practice area / metro area.  Attorney David P. Matthews, the founder of Matthews & Associates Law Firm, has been listed in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Lawyers in America since 2016, for his personal injury work representing plaintiffs.

Methodology Overview

The U.S. News & World Report Best Law Firms explains its methodology: “Clients and/or Professional References are emailed a survey addressing a firm’s expertise, responsiveness, understanding of a business and its needs, cost-effectiveness, civility, and whether they would refer another client to the firm.  Data is also collected from Best Lawyers ballots, which can only be completed by attorneys who are currently recognized by Best Lawyers.”

Tier 1 Ranking

Matthews & Associates has the highest ranking available, a “Tier 1.” The “Best Law Firms” web site explains that because selected firms were often separated by small or insignificant differences in overall score, they use a tier system rather than ranking law firms sequentially.

David P. Matthews among Best Lawyers in America

Firm founder David Matthews worked as a partner for 18 years in one of the oldest plaintiff’s law firms in Texas until 2007, when he opened his own law firm at 2905 Sackett in the Upper Kirby section of Houston, Texas.  The firm now employs 13 lawyers and some 60 full-time staff, including researchers, paralegals, nurses, and investigators.

Matthews & Associates represents people who have been injured by corporate malfeasance, greed, negligence, or incompetence.  The firm has successfully delivered financial compensation to thousands of clients in medical device and pharmaceutical drug litigation, as well as many other types of personal injury cases.

Drug Cases, Medical Devices, and More

The firm has represented thousands of injured people in medical device litigation such as transvaginal or pelvic mesh, as well as those with pharmaceutical drug cases involving Pradaxa, Reglan, Vioxx, Rezulin, and many other popular prescription drugs.

In addition, the firm has also handled cases for people injured in explosions, car and truck accidents, and many other types of litigation.

Today, besides dangerous drugs and medical device injury cases, the firm also handles California wildfire lawsuits, abuse by clergy (demanda de abuso por el clero), talcum powder cancer cases, Monsanto Roundup litigation, and MRI dye injuries.

The firm also prosecutes petrochemical and gas explosion accidents, construction cases, birth injury, premises liability, product liability, electrocutions, and several other types of personal-injury-related cases.

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Pope and Cardinal clash in Sex Abuse Crisis

(February 21, 2019)  Pope Francis and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston clash in how to handle the Catholic church’s sex abuse crisis.  While the pope has promised the world that he will move quickly to stop sex abuse by clergy and remove wayward priests, the pontiff’s actions have led Cardinal O’Malley and others to ponder whether the church’s leader will follow through on those promises.

Though Cardinal O’Malley stops well short of criticizing his “superior,” he is clearly disappointed that Pope Francis’ latest actions’ fail to fulfill his promises to timely identify and remove predatory priests and prevent further sex abuse crimes.  Cardinal O’Malley is one of the few heroes in the tragic story of runaway sex abuse and unconscionable coverups that plague the Catholic church.  He has already toiled for years trying to help heal several dioceses which nearly imploded as a result of his predecessor’s shortcomings.

The Healer – A Hero of our Time

Cardinal O’Malley made his name as a healer when several abuse scandals struck the Catholic church in the 1990s.  As bishop of Fall River, Mass., and then of Palm Beach, Fla., he dealt with abuse cases that implicated his predecessors.  He reached settlements and won the trust of many victims, which was no small feat given their history.  Cardinal O’Malley fought back tears when he spoke in public of the harms done to children.

In 2003, church leaders made him archbishop of Boston to tackle the biggest sex abuse crisis they’d ever seen.  That scandal included an egregious coverup of clerical sex abuse that was made legend in the film “The Spotlight,” which focused on the Boston Globe reporters who broke the story.  Besides coming clean on the church’s crimes against children, Cardinal O’Malley sold the palatial official residence where he was stationed and used that money to pay sex abuse victims.  He moved into a small apartment rectory.

Further Christlike, he was active in the Catholic church’s poverty relief work around the Western hemisphere, which is how he met Cardinal Mario Bergoglio, the future Pope Francis.

Their relationship was mutually beneficial and respectful for decades, but the way the pope’s latest actions have clashed with his previous promises has changed things for Cardinal O’Malley.

The cardinal first persuaded the pope to let him lead an advisory panel to study the problem and work on a solution.  In 2015, the panel recommended a special tribunal to try bishops who ignore or cover up abuse. The panel eventually proposed that sex abuse allegations should involve outside investigators, not just priests, and that Vatican files on abuse should be shared with victims and civil authorities.   The pope at first agreed with the panel, but the next year he changed his mind.  Victims’ representatives then resigned from the panel for what they said was Vatican inaction.

So the panel shifted focus to organizing academic conferences, but the pope then reshuffled the panel’s membership.  “Mistakes were made in appointments,” he said. His use of the passive voice did not bode well for the veracity of his statement.   The passive voice is a rhetorical device often used to deflect the culpability of the speaker, or to hide something more than tangentially relevant to the subject at hand.  The pope also said that the commission had not been honest with him.

One of the victims’ advocates who had quit the panel said Cardinal O’Malley told her: “I can’t understand why he would have said that.”

Still, Cardinal O’Malley did not criticize the pope, at least not directly. But then on a trip to Chile in January 2018, the pope defended a local bishop accused of covering up sex abuse, claiming that the allegations against him were “calumny” without proof.

Cardinal O’Malley then issued a public statement critical of the pope: “It is understandable that Pope Francis’ statements yesterday. . . were a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse.  Words that convey the message, ‘If you cannot prove your claims then you will not be believed,’ abandon those who have suffered.”

The pope has also remained close to Archbishop Theodore McCarrick of Washington, who is currently awaiting the results of a church trial on multiple counts of sex abuse and other misconduct.  A former Vatican diplomat accused the pope of ignoring earlier reports of sexual misconduct with adults by McCarrick, who has said he is innocent of one of the charges against him.  The pope has said he would not authorize a full-fledged investigation into the McCarrick scandal.

Deflating Expectations

The pope stunned Cardinal O’Malley and other U.S. priests during their visit to the Vatican last summer when he suggested that they cancel their annual national assembly planned for November 2018 where they planned to discuss anti-abuse proposals.  The Americans politely declined to cancel their assembly.

And then the pope announced a February 2019 summit on sex abuse that excluded the most competent and compassionate victims’ advocate in the country:  Cardinal O’Malley.

“We have to deflate expectations,” the pope told reporters.

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Monsanto Product increases Cancer Risk

Exposure to the Monsanto chemical glyphosate increases one’s cancer risk by 41%, according to a new analysis.  Classified as an herbicide (which is a type of pesticide), glyphosate is the only named active ingredient in Roundup, the world’s most popular killer.

Roundup non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Linked

To arrive at the 41% increased risk, University of Washington researchers evaluated glyphosate exposure studies already completed, along with some other studies concerning other weed killers.  The UW researchers concluded that Monsanto’s Roundup significantly increases the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a cancer of the immune system.

The study’s authors published their findings in the journal Mutation Research. They wrote:  “All of the meta-analyses conducted to date, including our own, consistently report the same key finding: exposure to GBHs (glyphosate-based herbicides) are associated with an increased risk of NHL.”

The U.S. EPA had, in its initial assessment, also determined that Roundup was potentially a human carcinogen, but then Monsanto went to work on some of the agency’s employees until the EPA was finally bent to do the chemical giant’s bidding.  Roundup’s link to cancer was first discovered more than three decades ago by one of the industry-captured agencies which Monsanto now uses as cover.

Monsanto EPA History

The actual carcinogenic risks of glyphosate can be difficult to decipher given Monsanto’s long-standing financial relationships with career politicians from both sides of the twisted aisle, as well as with individuals working in appointed positions in the U.S. government, most pointedly in the EPA.

EPA declares Glyphosate  Potentially Carcinogenic

The U.S. EPA – the so-called Environmental Protection Agency – first classified glyphosate as a Class C carcinogen in 1985.  But the agency later inexplicably reversed course and gave Monsanto license to sell it.

Glypohosate’s carcinogenic potential was first considered by an EPA panel on February 11, 1985.  In a consensus review dated March 4, 1985, the Toxicology Branch Ad Hoc Committee classified glyphosate as a Class C Carcinogen. A Class C Carcinogen has  ”Suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential” according to the EPA.

Monsanto then tried to persuade the EPA that glyphosate was not carcinogenic.  Monsanto got help from Dr. George Levinskas.  As the company’s Director of Environmental Assessment and Toxicology, Levinskas was a lead player in the cover up of the carcinogenic potential of the now banned PCBs in the 1970s – which continue to damage people and animals to this day.

Monsanto Massages the Message

According to Sustainable Pulse, in April 1985 Dr. Levinskas wrote an internal company letter stating: “Senior management at the EPA is reviewing a proposal to classify glyphosate as a class C “possible human carcinogen” because of kidney adenomas in male mice.  Dr. Marvin Kuschner will review kidney sections and present his evaluation of them to the EPA in an effort to persuade the agency that the observed tumors are not related to glyphosate.”

EPA Changes Glyphosate Carcinogen Classification

It was a hard sell for Monsanto, but not that hard.  The company was, after all, dealing with a government agency which also counts the toxic poisoning of Americans’ drinking water as one of the 20th century’s greatest accomplishments (See Mullenix 2014).   In 1991, the EPA simply changed classification of glyphosate from Class C “Suggestive of Carconogenic Potential” to Class E to suggest “evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans.”

Two EPA scientists refused to sign for the classification change, which, fortuitously for Monsanto, occurred just as the company was developing its first Roundup-Ready (glyphosate-resistant) GM crops (Eureka!).  GMO seeds depend on the copious use of glyphosate, which, besides helping to raise the world’s cancer statistics, has also engendered the growth of superweeds which have developed immunity to the glyphosate poison.  Birds, bees, humans and other animals, unfortunately, have not been so lucky.  One would have to be living on the moon now to not know how Monsanto pesticides like Roundup and Bayer’s neonicotinoids have helped kill off more than half the world’s pollinator bees.

Another industry-captured regulator, the European Food Safety Authority, also maintains that glyphosate is safe.  And  Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018, has called glyphosate a “safe and efficient weed control tool.”

World Health Organization: Glyphosate a Probable Carcinogen

In 2015, however, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”  The chemical has since triggered thousands of lawsuits brought by people who believe their exposure to Roundup caused their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The authors of the UW report analyzed all published studies on the impact of glyphosate on humans.

Co-author and doctoral student Rachel Shaffer said in a statement: “This research provides the most up-to-date analysis of glyphosate and its link with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, incorporating a 2018 study of more than 54,000 people who work as licensed pesticide applicators.” The scientists also assessed studies on animals.

Focusing on data relating to people with the “highest exposure” to the herbicide, the researchers concluded that a “compelling link” exists between glyphosate exposure and a greater risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Senior author Lianne Sheppard, professor in biostatistics and environmental and occupational health sciences, said she was “convinced” of the carcinogenic properties of the chemical.

Bayer Responds to Defend Monsanto

Bayer called the new analysis a “statistical manipulation” with “serious methodological flaws.” The company added for good measure that the study “provides no scientifically valid evidence that contradicts the conclusions of the extensive body of science demonstrating that glyphosate-based herbicides are not carcinogenic.”

The UW study authors do note some limitations of their analysis, such as that “limited published data” was available to them.  They also wrote that the studies they evaluated varied in the population groups they targeted.  They noted that the glyphosate exposure levels of the participants differed between reports.

A biosciences professor at the University of Central Lancashire, Francis Martin, told CNN that since glyphosate is used as a general purpose herbicide there will be exposure in the general population.  He further noted that the report was limited by the small number of existing studies, though he also stressed the authors were “honestly self-reflective on the limitations of the analyses.”

Mr. Martin said the report shows a need for new, well-designed robust studies, because the ones available are indeed small.

Monsanto endless trumpets that hundreds of studies have found roundup and glyphosate safe, but virtually all of those hundreds of studies were done by Monsanto or at the behest of Monsanto, and none of them were done on a long-term basis; so for Monsanto’s purposes in using them to defend Roundup, they are virtually worthless.

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Monsanto used Reuters to Fake News

(Feb. 16, 2018)  Monsanto used the news agency Reuters to fake news in 2017.  The chemical giant (bought last year by Bayer for some $62.5 Billion) used a Reuters reporter to create a demonstrably false news story that attacked a scientist and an organization that found Monsanto’s Roundup was probably carcinogenic.  Lawyers suing Monsanto for a man who developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma brought the evidence to the attention of the presiding judge last month in an attempt to get it entered into evidence for the jury to see.

Monsanto objects to Evidence

Monsanto, meanwhile, has objected to the jury’s hearing any mention of show Monsanto fed fake news to a Reuters reporter.  Judge Vincent Chaabria is still deciding how much, if any, of this new evidence the jury will hear in the second Roundup cancer trial scheduled to start this month.

The judge has apparently agreed, for the most part, to Monsanto’s demands to “bifurcate” the trial into two parts, a move which undoubtedly serves Monsanto’s interests to the detriment of the plaintiff.  The new arrangement will keep jurors from hearing any evidence of Monsanto’s behind-the-scenes machinations to protect its poison products from the hard glare of independent studies and public scrutiny.

This second trial over a Roundup cancer link – and the first in a federal court – is set to be heard very differently than the first, which last summer found that Monsanto had failed to warn a California groundskeeper of a Roundup-cancer link.  The jury in that trial decided unanimously that Monsanto was guilty of offenses that resulted in  punitive damages.  In this second trial,  the jury will first hear only scientific and legal arguments concerning direct causation.  Then, if and only if the jury determines that Roundup caused the plaintiff’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, will they then be allowed to hear how Monsanto worked (and works) behind the scenes to propagandize public perception and manipulate scientific opinion.

Monsanto Propaganda Poisons Discourse

It is well known now that Monsanto pays for its own vested interest studies (none of which has ever gone more than 12 months) which are then used to “convince” friendly regulators like the U.S. EPA that Monsanto products are safe.  Many Monsanto employees, like Michael Taylor, move from the Monsanto payroll into US government regulation jobs with FDA or EPA, and then back to Monsanto’s payroll.  It is now also well known how Monsanto works to manipulate and control public perception by ghost writing articles like those signed by the disgraced Stanford academic Henry Miller.  Mr. Miller, for one, published his pro-GMO Monsanto propaganda in Forbes magazine before Forbes’ editors realized that, like Reuters last month, they, too, had been used by Monsanto to mislead the public.

Monsanto, Reuters Team for Fake News

In the latest bombshell, a Reuters reporter named Kate Kelland was used as a willing dupe by Monsanto to publish propaganda attacking the credibility of the International Agency for Cancer Research, whose 2015 proclamation that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic did as much as anything to unleash what now amounts to nearly 10,000 lawsuits by people who say their lymphoma was caused by their exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup and glyphosate.

The clear motive of the fake news effort was to defend Monsanto against the very serious allegation that Roundup “herbicide” probably causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  For anyone paying attention, the result should be a fatal blow to the credibility of not only Monsanto and Reuters (when one sees below how easily the “news’ agency allowed itself to be used for a nefarious purpose), but also to what all of us have been taught we should swallow daily as “The News.”

A History of Attacking Critics

Monsanto has taken several lines of attack against any person or organization which has found credible evidence that Roundup causes cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Whenever Monsanto has perceived a threat to its business model – based on poison chemical farming and genetically modified organisms – it has moved quickly, and viciously, to neutralize or attack  that threat.

Monsanto has moved quickly to neutralize or discredit scientists (like Giles Seralini and others) or regulatory bodies such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) whenever those scientists or regulators have found evidence of carcinogenicity in Monsanto’s poison products like Roundup.

Even before the IARC declared Monsanto’s glyphosate a probable carcinogen in 2015, the chemical giant was already maneuvering to unleash attacks on the agency.

Monsanto’s Latest Puppet Journalist

New documents filed in federal court last month threaten to expose Reuters news reporter Kate Kelland for acting as Monsanto’s latest puppet.  She signed her name to a completely false narrative about cancer scientist Aaron Blair and the IARC that classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen.

Court Documents?  What Court Documents?

In 2017, Reuters put Ms. Kelland’s by-line on a controversial story that she attributed to “court documents.”  But those so-called “documents” now appear to have been given her by a Monsanto executive.  That person fed Ms. Kelland several key points Monsanto wanted made.  It was fake news because those “documents” which Ms. Kelland cited were not filed in court.  They were also not publicly available at the time she wrote her story. So she apparently lied about them being “court documents.”  That lie – if it is the lie it now appears to be – allowed her to avoid disclosing Monsanto’s role in pushing the story.

Putting Words in a Scientist’s Mouth

U.S. Right to Know reported that Ms. Kelland’s Monsanto-sourced story portrayed cancer scientist Aaron Blair as hiding “important information” that found no links between glyphosate and cancer from IARC.  Ms. Kelland wrote that Mr. Blair “said the data would have altered IARC’s analysis.”  But a review of the full deposition shows that Mr. Blair said no such thing.

The Missing Link

Ms. Kelland provided no link to the documents she cited.  That conveniently made it impossible for readers to see for themselves how far she and Reuters had veered from veracity.  It was Monsanto propaganda pure and simple.

Monsanto Propaganda Assails World

To further promote the fake news, Monsanto used Google advertisements, its chemical industry allies, and chemical-industry-friendly “news” outlets.  Pliant media outlets around the world picked up the “hot new story” and trumpeted it everywhere.  (It reminded one of another fake news coup, of Dick Cheney echoing that the New York Times’ Judith Miller had – falsely, it turned out – reported evidence of Iraq WMD.  Mr. Cheney then used that fake news – so shamelessly promoted by the country’s paper of record – to rally the country to attack Iraq and begin the country’s longest-ever-running war, with no end yet in sight.)

New information revealed in court filings shows just how heavily Monsanto promoted the false narrative to Reuters and Ms. Kelland.  In a January 15 court filing, plaintiff’s attorneys cited internal Monsanto correspondence dated April 27, 2017.  They say it shows how Monsanto executive Sam Murphey sent the false narrative to Ms. Kelland with a slide deck of talking points as well as out-of-context portions of the Blair deposition which was not filed in court. The attorneys said the correspondence shows Monsanto’s man asking her to publish a piece accusing Dr. Blair of deceiving IARC.

Monsanto and Bayer lawyers are trying to keep the correspondence with Ms. Kelland sealed from public view.  Some of the emails between the Reuters reporter and Monsanto still have not been released.

Monsanto Works to Discredit IARC

Plaintiff’s attorneys also write in their letter brief that Monsanto’s internal documents show Ms. Kelland was seen as a a key media contact in their efforts to discredit IARC.

USRTK fairly points out that companies routinely give media outlets story suggestions that benefit the companies from the companies, but reporters need to present facts, not corporate propaganda attacking reputable scientists.

This Reuters story was especially important because Monsanto used it to attack IARC on multiple fronts.  Part of that attack included an effort by Monsanto to get Congress to strip funding from IARC.

Reuters and Ms. Kelland failed the public by not revealing that Monsanto was the story’s source. USRTK says, “Reuters owes the world – and IARC – an apology.”

The News?

But an apology hardly cuts it.  This episode shows that Reuters, like the New York Times in the Iraq WMD propaganda blitz, is a captured news agency that cannot be trusted.  Hopefully this episode will teach us all to be very careful to assess veracity each time we open a newspaper or a web site or listen to anyone read us what their corporate masters call “the news.

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