Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Monsanto Calls for Investigation Into WHO Agency for Ignoring Monsanto-Funded Studies

Popular
Monsanto Calls for Investigation Into WHO Agency for Ignoring Monsanto-Funded Studies
Mike Mozart / Flickr

The agrochemical and seed giant Monsanto, one of the world's most controversial corporations, is attempting to take down a World Health Organization (WHO) agency that in 2015 linked the Monsanto product glyphosate to an increased risk of cancer in humans. That year, the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found that the widely used herbicide is "probably carcinogenic to humans."

The decision was a major blow to Monsanto as its most popular product, Roundup, is glyphosate-based. Following the IARC's decision, the European Union began to consider banning the product altogether, potentially depriving Monsanto of a significant stream of revenue. Monsanto, which is seeking the EU's renewal of the chemical's license for the next 10 years, is now also fighting a high-profile court case attempting to bring IARC's 2015 decision—as well as the agency itself—under scrutiny.


Central to Monsanto's case is its argument that the IARC failed to consider two studies that found glyphosate to be safe. The first was conducted by the German-based Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), which concluded in 2015 that "glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans." The second is a study from "independent" German scientist Helmut Greim, who conducted a meta-analysis and found that "glyphosate's carcinogenic potential is extremely low or non-existent."

Monsanto has claimed that IARC's lack of consideration for these two studies proved that the agency's findings were an "outlier" in linking glyphosate exposure to cancer. Their failure to include these two studies, according to Monsanto's vice president of strategy, Scott Partridge, shows that the IARC "was corrupted apparently with individuals who have an agenda" and warrants an external investigation into the workings of the agency and its leadership.

Partridge told Politico in an interview that "When an organization such as IARC is given authority, with that comes a responsibility … to be objective, transparent, thorough and fair. IARC has violated each and every one of those responsibilities and that should be troubling to anyone who is interested in preserving sound science."

Though Monsanto's reasoning may be considered sound be some, there is clear evidence that the studies that form the base of Monsanto's legal argument are hardly "sound science" themselves. The first study conducted by BfR, for instance, in drawing conclusions contrary to those of the IARC, relied heavily on unpublished papers provided to its authors by the Glyphosate Task Force—an industry lobbying group, working to relicense the herbicide in the EU, whose website is run by Monsanto UK.

The meta-analysis conducted by Helmut Greim is little different. According to the declaration of interest found within the study, all of Greim's co-authors are employed by either the Glyphosate Task Force or Monsanto. Greim himself was funded by Monsanto "as an independent consultant for his expert contributions to this manuscript." Other work by Greim, including one entirely funded by Monsanto, lists him as having previously served as an independent consultant for Monsanto and for the Glyphosate Task Force.

This amounts to Monsanto calling for an investigation into the credibility of an international agency after it refused to consider studies either funded by Monsanto or written by Monsanto-linked employees with a vested interest in glyphosate's reapproval by the European Union.

As Anton Safer, an independent scientist at the University of Heidelberg who has done extensive research into the standards of industry-funded scientific studies, told Politico: "IARC only looks at studies of quality and sorts out all studies that are deemed not reliable, at least to a certain degree. The claim from industry is that 'we are perfect and we are working to good laboratory practices.' The truth is that there are violations which could lead to major questions arising of the studies used by industry."

Ironically, if IARC had considered these two industry-funded studies that are laden with conflicts of interests, it would have undermined their scientific credibility to the point where Monsanto would have a genuine cause to complain.

This is just the latest attempt on Monsanto's part to attempt to convince regulatory bodies and governments that its flagship product is safe and not a danger to human and environmental health. Monsanto itself has known for more than 36 years that glyphosate is linked to cancer in humans, yet continues to hope that aggressive legal tactics, coupled with industry scientists on its payroll, will serve to rehabilitate the tarnished reputation of one of the world's most controversial and unpopular companies.

Reposted with permission from our media associate MintPress News.

With restaurants and supermarkets becoming less viable options during the pandemic, there has been a growth in demand and supply of local food. Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County / Flickr

By Robin Scher

Beyond the questions surrounding the availability, effectiveness and safety of a vaccine, the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to question where our food is coming from and whether we will have enough.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Tearing through the crowded streets of Philadelphia, an electric car and a gas-powered car sought to win a heated race. One that mimicked how cars are actually used. The cars had to stop at stoplights, wait for pedestrians to cross the street, and swerve in and out of the hundreds of horse-drawn buggies. That's right, horse-drawn buggies. Because this race took place in 1908. It wanted to settle once and for all which car was the superior urban vehicle. Although the gas-powered car was more powerful, the electric car was more versatile. As the cars passed over the finish line, the defeat was stunning. The 1908 Studebaker electric car won by 10 minutes. If in 1908, the electric car was clearly the better form of transportation, why don't we drive them now? Today, I'm going to answer that question by diving into the history of electric cars and what I discovered may surprise you.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A technician inspects a bitcoin mining operation at Bitfarms in Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec on March 19, 2018. LARS HAGBERG / AFP via Getty Images

As bitcoin's fortunes and prominence rise, so do concerns about its environmental impact.

Read More Show Less
OR-93 traveled hundreds of miles from Oregon to California. Austin Smith Jr. / Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs / California Department of Fish and Wildlife

An Oregon-born wolf named OR-93 has sparked conservation hopes with a historic journey into California.

Read More Show Less
A plume of exhaust extends from the Mitchell Power Station, a coal-fired power plant built along the Monongahela River, 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, on Sept. 24, 2013 in New Eagle, Pennsylvania. The plant, owned by FirstEnergy, was retired the following month. Jeff Swensen / Getty Images

By David Drake and Jeffrey York

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The Big Idea

People often point to plunging natural gas prices as the reason U.S. coal-fired power plants have been shutting down at a faster pace in recent years. However, new research shows two other forces had a much larger effect: federal regulation and a well-funded activist campaign that launched in 2011 with the goal of ending coal power.

Read More Show Less