The Roundup cancer lawsuits against Monsanto consolidated in Northern California took a dramatic turn this week over potential connections between the EPA and Monsanto. The judge overseeing the case said he is inclined to order a retired Environmental Protection Agency official to testify about his alleged role in helping Monsanto sidestep inquiries into the link between Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide and cancer.
Jess Rowland, formerly an EPA deputy division director, has found himself to be a central figure in the Monsanto litigation. Dozens of plaintiffs from all across the U.S. have accused the agrochemical giant of failing to warn consumers and regulators that Roundup can cause cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
This week, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said he is likely to require Rowland to submit to questioning by attorneys for the plaintiffs on what role he played in potential connection between the EPA and Monsanto. “When you consider the relevance of the EPA’s report, and you consider their relevance to this litigation, it seems appropriate to take Jess Rowland’s deposition,” said Judge Chhabria at a hearing in San Francisco.
Roundup Cancer Attorneys Say Documents Show ‘Highly Suspicious’ Relationship Between Deputy of EPA and Monsanto
Roundup cancer attorneys say they have uncovered documents in discovery that highlight a “highly suspicious” relationship between Rowland and Monsanto. According to the documents, Rowland chaired the EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC) that was tasked with putting together a report on glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer.
The EPA report, which concluded that Roundup doesn’t cause cancer, differs from the 2015 International Agency for Research on Cancer’s conclusion that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen.”
However, the 86-page EPA report wasn’t just controversial because it broke with findings by IARC; the report was leaked on the internet in May 2016 only to be taken down by the agency, which said at the time that it did so “because our assessment is not final.”
According to Reuters, a cover memo that was part of the report indicated that it was the committee’s “final Cancer Assessment Document,” with the date Oct. 1, 2015 imprinted on every page.
As for Rowland, he left his job under unusual circumstances—just days after the report was leaked.
According to Bloomberg, internal Monsanto communications show that efforts were undertaken to publish Rowland’s CARC report in order to “preempt other potential actions or inquiries about the dangers of glyphosate.” The Monsanto litigation has also turned up documents allegedly showing that Rowland was “straining, and often breaking, ethics and rules to benefit Monsanto’s business.”
Longtime EPA Scientist Accuses Rowland of Favoring the Glyphosate Herbicide Industry
An interesting correspondence between Rowland and an EPA scientist was also found in discovery. In a letter dated March 4, 2013, EPA scientist Marion Copley told Rowland that there were scientific grounds to reclassify glyphosate as a “probable” human carcinogen from a “possible” human carcinogen. Citing evidence from animal studies, Copley wrote that “it is essentially certain that glyphosate causes cancer.”
Copley, who had spent 30 years with the agency at the time she penned the letter to Rowland, urged him, “for once in your life, listen to me and don’t play your conniving games with the science to favor” the industry. She went on to say that Rowland and another EPA official “intimidated staff” into changing reports on glyphosate.
Will Rowland Testify?
Rowland was previously asked to voluntarily submit to deposition on his role in any potential EPA and Monsanto conflicts. He refused. According to Raven Norris, an attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco representing the EPA, it is “premature” for Rowland to be deposed.
The agency only recently learned that attorneys for the plaintiffs in the Monsanto litigation had served a subpoena to Rowland to compel him to testify. Norris said they are waiting to see where the process goes.
“The agency has concerns about being pulled into private litigation. They want to be able to maintain their impartiality,” she told Bloomberg.
Judge Chhabria gave the U.S. Attorney’s Office until March 28 to file written arguments in opposition to Rowland’s deposition.
Monsanto Roundup Cancer Lawsuits Ongoing
The law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman is working with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Kevin Madonna of the law firm Kennedy & Madonna in representing individuals who were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma after being exposed to Roundup weed killer.
Our team is representing farmers, farm workers, landscapers, gardeners, government workers and other people who used Roundup, believing it to be safe. Studies have shown that there is a “statistically significant” association between glyphosate exposure and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
If you are interested in filing a claim against Monsanto, contact the Roundup cancer attorneys at Baum Hedlund today to learn more about protecting your rights. Our firm is offering free case evaluations for those who have been exposed to glyphosate and were later diagnosed with cancer. Call us today at 800-827-0087.