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Plaintiffs in lawsuits across the country are alleging that Monsanto, the maker of Roundup weed killer, hid information that would have revealed the dangers associated with glyphosate, the main active ingredient in the product. A federal court recently unsealed documents that raise troubling questions about what Monsanto executives may have known about the risks of glyphosate.
Glyphosate is an herbicide classified as a “probable human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It’s the most widely used herbicide on the planet, and used in many different types of products. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of determining whether or not use of glyphosate should be regulated in the U.S.
The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a study analyzing almost 30 years of data to determine if there’s a relationship between glyphosate and a form of cancer known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. According to the results, there has been a substantial increase in the number of cases of the disease linked to glyphosate use.
According to the court documents, an EPA director alerted Monsanto of the IARC classification months before it was announced. This gave the company time to begin a public relations campaign to discredit the findings well before they were published. In addition, the documents included internal Monsanto e-mails stating that the director would attempt to keep the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from conducting its own review into glyphosate.
Documents also suggested that Monsanto staffers wrote research papers stating that glyphosate was safe, and later hired academics to put their names on those papers. Monsanto commonly refers to published research when defending the safety of glyphosate, and now the integrity and validity of that research have been called into question.