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Did Monsanto Manipulate the EPA to Delay Glyphosate Toxicology Report?

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According to email communications obtained by the non-profit organization U.S. Right to Know, Monsanto, the company that manufactures Roundup weed killer, worked together with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to slow a potentially damaging review of glyphosate, the main herbicide used in the product.

This, as many plaintiffs are filing new lawsuits against Monsanto claiming that they develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and other forms of cancer from after working with Roundup for years in agriculture jobs. In July, the California state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) named glyphosate as a chemical that can cause cancer, officially adding it to their “Proposition 65” list of dangerous substances.

Did Monsanto Delay a Toxicology Report on Glyphosate?

The emails, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, show that Monsanto was communicating with the EPA in 2015 concerning a toxicology review of glyphosate. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was evaluating the herbicide for any potential effects on human health.

The ATSDR announced in early 2015 that it planned to publish its resulting profile of glyphosate by October 2015, but October came and went and the report did not come out. To date, it has still not been published.

The email communications and other documents suggest that Monsanto has been instrumental in delaying the publication of this report.

Monsanto Works with EPA Officials to Delay Report

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), after conducting an extensive review of the literature, determined in March 2015 report that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Company documents suggest that Monsanto was worried after the IARC report came out. In May 2015, Monsanto’s then Vice President of Government Affairs called the EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety & Pollution Prevention, and the next morning, that assistant administrator put in calls to the ATSDR.

There is evidence that during the calls, the administrator suggested that the review was a waste of time since the EPA was conducting its own review of glyphosate. According to a Bloomberg report, another EPA official boasted in a phone conversation that if he could kill this (the ATSDR report), he should get a medal. Reports of the call were released in court documents in the Roundup lawsuits.

These and other allegations have prompted the EPA’s Office of Inspector General to launch an investigation into the issue.

Two Reports Still Not Published

Though EPA officials have stated that they communicated with the ATSDR on their report simply because the EPA was conducting a report on glyphosate as well, neither report has been published. According to released documents, in May 2015 the EPA reported that its assessment of glyphosate was “nearing completion,” and suggested that because of this, the ATSDR report was unnecessarily redundant.

Monsanto also reportedly met with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to discuss the “duplicative” EPA and ATSDR reports in June 2015 and sought help to repudiate the IARC classification.

Other documents released during in discovery in the Roundup lawsuits have suggested that Monsanto also manipulated a purportedly “independent” research paper on glyphosate to demonstrate its safety. All federally-filed Roundup lawsuits have now been centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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