It took a Freedom of Information Act request to uncover the damning documents. The emails reveal Monsanto’s influence over the EPA and show just how far the biotech bully goes to spin science for profit. The communications show EPA officials working closely with Monsanto to delay a toxicology review on glyphosate that was supposed to be conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. The ATSDR is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), but the emails show it to be a subsidiary of Monsanto.
Roundup Carcinogenicity Clear since 1985
EPA collusion with Monsanto stretches back to at least 1993, when the agency reversed its 1985 ruling that glyphosate was a probable carcinogen. See: EPA’s 1985 Roundup Cancer Ruling. We didn’t then have the benefit of emails to prove the collusion, but now we do.
The latest Monsanto-EPA collusion began in early 2015, when glyphosate was finally red-flagged by the World Health Organization (which is normally a corporate lapdog). In 2015, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, a “probable human carcinogen.” That finding made Monsanto executives apoplectic. Monsanto had poisoned so many people and their lands with Roundup for so many years, what could the company do then but what it did – feign moral outrage?
Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Lawsuits
With Roundup lawsuits reigning down on them after the IARC ruling, Monsanto senior officials knew that something had to be done, and fast. Monsanto needed to discredit the IARC, or “neutralize” it, as corporations say. Monsanto needed to make glyphosate appear safe again in the public eye, because appearance, not reality, is the ALL. Monsanto’s immediate fear was that ATSDR might make a similar ruling about the carcinogenicity of glyphosate. If ATSDR followed IARC’s lead, it could spell the death knell for Roundup, Monsanto’s best-selling poison. Monsanto promptly kicked into gear and used its EPA connections to halt the toxicological review.
Evidence Monsanto, EPA Colluded to delay Glyphosate Review
The emails show how EPA officials worked closely with Monsanto executives, updating the company on their progress to keep the ATSDR’s from completing a toxicological review. The emails detail Monsanto’s M.O.: its naked attempts to squelch or manipulate real scientific reviews of the company’s chemical poisons. The emails vindicate Monsanto lawsuits. The emails show how Monsanto tried – successfully, in this case – to cover up glyphosate’s deadly links with cancer.
Make no mistake. Roundup is a prominent pillar in Monsanto’s whole toxic business model. The genetically modified seeds it sells are called “Roundup Ready.” The Roundup-Ready corn and soy and other genetically-perverted seeds Monsanto patents and sells – as it attempts to monopolize the seed industry – are chemically engineered to resist Roundup’s toxic assault. Roundup kills everything not genetically modified to withstand it. Any threat to Roundup – whose only listed active ingredient is glyphosate – is a direct threat to Monsanto’s whole business model.
Related: Roundup more toxic than glyophosate
Because glyphosate plays such an outsized role in U.S. agriculture and lawn care, and Roundup is Monsanto’s best selling killer, the company could not let the IARC classification that it was a probable carcinogen go unpunished, or unanswered. Monsanto could not let the IARC ruling stand. Because desperate times call for desperate measures, Monsanto employees got sloppy with their normally quieter collusion with EPA.
After the IARC ruling, it was absolutely essential for Monsanto that ATSDR publish a positive safety review to refute the IARC. Monsanto’s collusion with EPA worked just as Monsanto knew it could – they seamlessly follow the golden rule; whoever has the gold rules.
EPA Stifles Glyphosate Review for Monsanto
In February 2015, the ATSDR promised a toxicology review on glyphosate by October 2015, but Monsanto’s EPA collusion got it halted. No toxicological profile from ATSDR has been published as of February 2017. We now know why. Monsanto’s emails to EPA worked just as the company hoped they would.
Jess Rowland, Monsanto’s EPA Insider
Jess Rowland, former deputy division director in the health effects division of the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP), retired in 2016 with a giant black mark on his career. Emails between him and Monsanto showed Mr. Rowland telling the biotech bully that he hoped to kill the ATSDR review. And according to the email dump courtesy of FOIA, he was not the only high level EPA official working with Monsanto to stop the toxicology review.
Monsanto EPA Collusion Systemic
At the behest of Monsanto, a collection of (colluding) EPA officials aggressively pressured the ATSDR and HHS for Monsanto. The “officials” claimed a toxicology review on glyphosate would be unnecessarily “duplicative” because the EPA was putting its own review together. Lo and behold, the EPA’s assessment in 2016 refuted IARC’s scientific proof that glyphosate was a probable carcinogen. Its evidence was scant, fictional, or non-existent; but so is lots of “evidence” that finds its way into “scientific studies.” That review also failed the public entirely because it focused only on glyphosate – Roundup’s only named active ingredient – which is never applied alone but becomes at least 1,000 more toxic when mixed into a Roundup concoction.
In addition, in sharp contrast with EPA, the IARC looked only at glypohosate studies independent of industry, while EPA takes Monsanto at its word (as it did when it unleashed Roundup on the world) and allows Monsanto-funded studies the same weight as independent ones.
Gov’t Official: ATSDR Study not Duplicative
OPP Director Jack Housenger genuflects to Monsanto repeatedly through the recent FOIA-released email communications. In his ultimately successful efforts to suppress the ATSDR review, Housenger bowed to Monsanto pressure, wondering “whether this is a good use of government resources.” (Millions and millions of gallons of Roundup have been dumped on us all, but Housenger is worried over OPP expenses in examining the most-used poison of our time ?) At first, officials with the ATSDR review didn’t bend. ATSDR division director James Stephens wrote back. He said their review overlaps the EPA’s review “but isn’t totally duplicative…”
Monsanto Muscle at Work
Monsanto’s chief “scientist” William Heydens forcefully convinced EPA officials to bury any ATSDR review. ATSDR officials said their review was distinguishable and not duplicative, which contradicted the EPA’s opinion. But ATSDR finally agreed with Housenger not to say anything about glyphosate’s carcinogenicity. When our government regulator – OPP Director Housenger – confirmed to Monsanto that the ATSDR was backing off the glyphosate review, Monsanto’s William Heydens snapped, “Distinguishable and not duplicative’? Seriously? And I will believe the not ‘making a call on cancer’ part when I see it. Anyway, at least they know they are being watched, and hopefully that keeps them from doing anything too stupid…”
Indeed, government agencies have kowtowed to corporate bullies like Monsanto for so long that many have learned to look over their shoulders for people like Heydens. If Monsanto complains enough to the right Senators or congressional reps whose campaigns, junkets and pork barrel projects they help fund, could they have not only a review but also a troublesome reviewer removed? We now see how easily they can remove a review. How else are we to take Heydens’ thinly-veiled threat?
Heydens sheds light on the fact that our government of wolves is controlled by corporate wolves. Meanwhile, Monsanto continues to poison us all with relative impunity.