Monsanto’s Ghostwriting

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Significant evidence exists that Monsanto launched a disinformation campaign to undermine IARC’s classification of glyphosate. Hundreds of pages of internal e-mails, memorandums, and other records show that Monsanto engaged in a decades-long concerted battle plan to fend off any evidence that might suggest potential adverse human health effects from glyphosate.

Monsanto’s own scientist acknowledged in internal e-mails that the glyphosate-containing weed-killer RoundUp does cause damage. “Glyphosate is ok, but the formulated product causes the damage”, William Heydens wrote to Donna Farmer in 2002. Next year, Monsanto’s lead toxicologist, Donna Farmer sent an email to the company’s employees saying “You cannot say that RoundUp is not a carcinogen. We have not done the necessary testing on the formulation to make that statement”.

Prior to IARC’s March 2015 classification of glyphosate, Monsanto knew that the scientific evidence was not on their side. By February 2015 a battle plan was underway: “We should assume and prepare for the outcome of a 2B rating(possible human carcinogen); a 2A rating( probable human carcinogen) is possible but less likely”, as one of Monsanto’s internal documents proved and their battle plan included major efforts to amplify their message that glyphosate was safe pointing to industry-sponsored studies and industry-places news stories.

Certain internal e-mails revealed in court show that Monsanto’s scientist ghost wrote scientific articles on glyphosate. An email between Bill Heydens and Donna Farmer revealed a discussion that later became known as the “greim paper”- a 2015 study published in Critical Reviews in Toxicology whose authors include Helmut Greim and David Saltmiras. In that email, they contemplated paying for a study to combat problematic findings and the conclusion was that is a lot cheaper “to ghost-write the Exposure Tox & Genotox sections and add Greim and Kier or Kirkland to have their names on the publication, but we would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and they would just edit and sign their names so to speak”. The paper published in March 2015 with Greim as the lead author, concluded: “After almost forty years of commercial use and multiple regulatory approvals including toxicology evaluations, literature reviews, and numerous human health risk assessments, the clear and consistent conclusions are that glyphosate is of low toxicological concern, and no concerns exist with respect to glyphosate use and cancer in humans”.

The Greim paper became an important role which Monsanto used to object to IARC’s classification, the company even claimed that if it had been considered, the classification of glyphosate would have been different.

Paid journalist to discredit IARC

Monsanto didn’t stop with ghostwriting in order to influence IARC’s classification. They endeavored to recruit writers to publish articles echoing criticism of IARC’s process. In February 2015, Monsanto’s scientist Eric Sachs reached out to Henry Miller, contributor to Forbes. Sachs prompted Miller on the desired content, writing “Ideally, your article would precede the IARC decision. Why not set the table with the weight of scientific evidence before IARC convenes?” ( internal email with the subject: Opportunity: Glyphosate and IARC). Miller agreed to it and requested a draft from the company which later was published on the Forbes website.

Later, the ghostwriting was discovered and Miller was fired from Forbes.

Later, a simple man broke the silence, and the truth started to come out.

About the author

Representing thousands of individuals and community claims all over the Southeast for 20 years, Gregory A. Cade is always driven to help injured people.

What makes me unique as a lawyer is my scientific and legal approach – on a professional level, and the fact that I’m both driven and understanding – on a personal level. I am dedicated to my mission and I do everything in my power to help our clients.”

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