The law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman made public today hundreds of pages of newly de-classified internal Monsanto documents, including company email exchanges, reports, studies and other memoranda.
Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman obtained the documents via discovery (pre-trial civil procedure allowing the parties in litigation to obtain evidence from each other) in the ongoing Monsanto Roundup litigation. The firm sits on the leadership of the federal Roundup multidistrict litigation (MDL) and on the California state court Roundup Judicial Council Coordination Proceedings (JCCP).
The documents released today are part of the growing trove of documents known as the Monsanto Papers. The Monsanto Papers tell an alarming story of ghostwriting, scientific manipulation, collusion with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and previously undisclosed information about how the human body absorbs glyphosate. These documents allow people to see what is happening “behind the curtain” of secrecy that normally shrouds ongoing litigation and provides a deeper understanding of the serious public health consequences surrounding Monsanto’s conduct in marketing Roundup.
Baum Hedlund shared the documents with regulators, lawmakers and some media prior to today’s publication. Attorneys Michael L. Baum and R. Brent Wisner also traveled to Canada earlier this year to personally brief Members of Parliament on the issues raised in these and other previously released Monsanto Papers documents.
“We believe it is important for the public, regulatory agencies, and scientists to be fully informed of the processes that occur behind the thick veil of corporate unaccountability that have a direct impact on public and environmental health,” says Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman attorney R. Brent Wisner.
“This way, regulators can make informed decisions, the public is provided the opportunity to know what it is consuming (and at what cost), and scientists are able to build upon transparent data as well as know how much weight to place on research that may have an undue corporate profit motive behind it.”
New Monsanto Papers Documents Reaffirm Efforts to Manipulate Science
One of the more notable documents made public today is a 2000 email from former Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant to various Monsanto employees. In the exchange, Grant praises several employees for the successful publication of the ghostwritten review, “Safety Evaluation and Risk Assessment of the Herbicide Roundup and Its Active Ingredient Glyphosate” in the names of Williams, Kroes & Munro, 2000.
In a previous release of Monsanto Papers documents, an email from Monsanto executive William Heydens affirms that the Williams, Kroes & Munro review was ghostwritten. In a discussion about producing an expert report for glyphosate, Heydens wrote:
“An option would be to 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 & sign their names so to speak. Recall that is how we handled Williams Kroes & Munro, 2000.”
In addition to this 2015 admission of ghostwriting, Heydens’ wrote in another newly-released email that he “sprouted several new gray hairs during the writing of this thing…” in reference to the Williams, Kroes & Munro review.
Another newly released email from senior Monsanto official Lisa Drake thanks several employees for “data collection, writing, review and relationship building with the papers’ authors.” Drake suggests the ghostwritten review paper will be utilized for “continued Roundup FTO [Freedom to Operate]” and “building Roundup sales.”
Since publication, the Williams, Kroes & Munro review has been cited more than 500 times in the literature and relied upon by the EPA and other regulatory bodies throughout the world in their assessments of glyphosate.
Monsanto Has Been Playing Whack-A-Mole to Derail Science for Years
One of the key themes in the Monsanto Papers is the company’s effort to derail and discredit scientists that call into question the safety of Roundup and glyphosate. A clear example of this can be found in an email between Monsanto scientist Dr. Daniel Goldstein and academic Bruce Chassy, wherein Dr. Goldstein remarks that the company “has been playing Whack-a-Mole for years and calling it just that” in regards to fending off scientific findings that are at odds with Monsanto’s claim that Roundup is safe.
Another example of Monsanto’s effort’s to discredit science can be found in the email correspondences between Monsanto and Reuters writer, Kate Kelland. In 2017, Kelland wrote a controversial story that accused Dr. Aaron Blair (chair of the IARC Working Group for Monograph 112) of concealing data that would have changed IARC’s conclusion that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. A full reading of Dr. Blair’s deposition disproved Kelland’s accusations, but she did not include a copy of the deposition with her story.
Kelland’s story did not cite sources, only “court documents” she had obtained, which were not publicly available at the time. This led many to suspect that Monsanto had fed her the story, which was subsequently picked up by media outlets around the world and cited in letters from members of Congress to the National Institutes for Health (NIH) calling for an investigation into IARC’s funding (which Kelland also reported on). Monsanto and chemical industry allies promoted the Kelland story, even purchasing Google advertisements linked to the story.
Internal emails show that Monsanto sent a PowerPoint presentation of talking points and a suggested story to Kelland that she parroted in her reporting. In an April 2017 email, Monsanto official Sam Murphey told Kelland: “We think this is vitally important information that needs to be reported.” He also cautioned her to treat the information he sent her as “background.” In other words, Kelland was not to mention in her reporting that she got the story idea and materials from Monsanto.
The latest Monsanto Papers release also contains several new email exchanges regarding the studies of independent scientist, Gilles-Eric Seralini. In 2012, Prof. Seralini released a long-term feeding study of rats consuming GM-resistant corn and Roundup weed killer, which found that rats consuming the GM-resistant corn and Roundup were more likely to develop tumors.
Previous Monsanto Papers documents show the company made it a priority to discredit Seralini’s work, even going so far as to develop a plan to seek the retraction of the 2012 study.
But according to the new documents released today, Prof. Seralini’s work was on Monsanto’s radar years earlier. In an email chain from 2010 between Monsanto officials David Saltmiras, William Heydens, Kevin Glenn and others, Saltmiras remarks that “our comments were valued by Regulatory Toxicology & Pharmacology…the Seralini submission for publication was rejected.” Glenn responds: “Thanks David – nice to see that the efforts were helpful in, at least, delaying his publication.” This email string shows Heydens acted as a peer reviewer on Seralini’s study of a treatment that protects against cell death provoked by glyphosate-based herbicides in human liver cell lines, notwithstanding the conflict of interest of Heydens reviewing a study on the very product his employer sells.
Media Reporting on the New Monsanto Papers Release
Roundup, the World’s Best-Selling Weedkiller, Faces a Legal Reckoning
April 8, 2019
Wall Street Journal
Court documents reveal Monsanto’s efforts to fight glyphosate’s ‘severe stigma’
March 12, 2019
Watch interview of Brent Wisner – Glyphosate: Secretly Revised Studies by Monsanto
Feb. 21, 2019
Monsanto stopped Dutch research into glyphosate after ‘unacceptable’ result
Feb. 16, 2019
Follow the Money
Monsanto fed Reuters reporter Kate Kelland info to discredit IARC researcher
Feb. 4, 2019
French Media Destroys Bayer/Monsanto with New Lobbying, Fake News and Bullying Revelations
Feb. 3, 2019
Monsanto, heavyweight pesticides and specialist information kit
The last issue of the “Monsanto Papers” shows how the company is trying to discredit researchers and organizations that displease it
Jan. 31, 2019
Glyphosate: How Monsanto conducts its media war
New internal documents unveil the agrochemical giant’s aggressive practices to “actively place” favorable content in the press and on the Internet
Jan. 31, 2019
GMO: what Monsanto Papers reveal about lobbying in France
Jan. 17, 2019
The “Monsanto Papers” revealed how the American giant had secretly drafted, by his own scientists, studies to prove that glyphosate was not dangerous. Today, the firm is in the sights of justice
Jan. 17, 2019