Roundup Safety Recommendations Issued by European Regulators Was Copy-Pasted From Monsanto: Report
In November 2015, as concerns were gaining worldwide attention over the safety of Roundup exposure, and the potential risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma from glyphosate contained in the widely used weedkiller, a new report suggests that recommendations made by European food safety regulators were essentially copied from information provided by Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup.
According to an investigative report published by the U.K. newspaper The Guardian, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)’s declaration about glyphosate included large portions that were copied, verbatim, from a Monsanto study. In addition, many of the identical areas involved concerns over glyphosate’s cancer risks, genotoxicity and reproductive toxicity.
The findings come as the European Union weighs whether it will extend the license for the use of Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides. It also comes amid growing concerns over the close ties between Monsanto and regulators both in Europe and the United States.
In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that glyphosate was a probable human carcinogen, and specifically linked Roundup exposure to an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Monsanto has attempted to dismiss the warning, defending the safety of Roundup and spending considerable effort to influence the debate among regulators and health experts.
In November 2015, the EFSA chimed in with its own findings, declaring that it was unlikely that glyphosate caused cancer. That report did suggest that an exposure limit may be necessary for human safety, and called for efforts to keep glyphosate out of human food. However, the new report indicates that the EFSA’s findings were based on a renewal assessment report published that year, which contained dozens of pages that appear to have been directly copied from a paper submitted by the Glyphosate Task Force, an industry group formed and backed by Monsanto.
EFSA officials have defended its findings and its independence, saying that while those passages may have been copied for expedience in the 4,300-page assessment, it did not mean they influenced the EFSA’s findings, which were based on numerous studies.
The report is just the latest indication of an overly cozy relationship between Monsanto and the officials worldwide who decide whether their products are safe.
On August 1, a cache of internal memos and e-mails, being referred to as the “Monsanto Papers”, were released to the public as part of the ongoing discovery process in Roundup lawsuits. The litigation involves cases filed by hundreds of farmers, landscapers, agricultural workers and other regular users of the weedkiller, alleging that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn about the potential cancer risks and importance of taking safety precautions while spraying the weedkiller.
The documents demonstrate that Monsanto has worked with the EPA to kill or delay reports critical of glyphosate, and its own scientists raised concerns about whether glyphosate may cause cancer. The documents also indicated that Monsanto has edited and ghostwritten both supposedly independent research papers which heralded glyphosate’s safety, and meddled with the content of federal safety reviews.
U.S. Roundup Litigation
Monsanto now faces hundreds of non-Hodgkins lymphoma lawsuits in the United States, each raising similar allegations that Roundup users may have avoided a cancer diagnosis if Monsanto had provided adequate warnings, and not taken steps to falsify data and mislead about the safety of the weedkiller.
Given the similar questions of fact and law presented in lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated pretrial proceedings for all federal Roundup cases in October 2016, centralizing the claims before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California to reduce duplicative discovery, prevent conflicting rulings and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
As part of the coordinated MDL proceedings, Judge Chhabria has previously determined that the Roundup litigation will be bifurcated, first addressing general causation about the link between the widely used weedkiller and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, before addressing case-specific issues about whether Roundup caused cancer for each individual plaintiff.
Following resolution of any motions to dismiss based on general causation, if a Roundup settlement or other resolution for the litigation is not reached during the first phase of discovery, it is expected that Judge Chhabria will establish a bellwether process, where a small group of cases will be prepared for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the lawsuits.
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