A scientific journal issued a rare "Expression of Concern" and requested corrections from authors involved in a group of papers that determined Monsanto's controversial herbicide glyphosate is safe, Bloomberg reported.
The editor-in-chief and publisher of Critical Reviews in Toxicology said Wednesday that the five articles, which were published in the journal's 2016 supplemental issue, failed to adequately disclose ties to the agribusiness giant.
"We have requested corrigenda from the authors to provide additional disclosure as to contributions to the articles," they said. "To date, we have only received corrigenda for three of the five articles that have been agreed by all authors. We have not received an adequate explanation as to why the necessary level of transparency was not met on first submission."
Although the articles have been flagged, the scientific findings are unchanged and the title of the supplemental issue remains as, "An Independent Review of the Carcinogenic Potential of Glyphosate."
"When reading the articles, we recommend that readers take this context into account. We will continue to work to update these articles and ensure full disclosure of all contributions to them," the editor-in-chief and publisher said.
Their expression of concern has added fuel to claims that Monsanto employees "ghost-wrote" safety reviews of glyphosate and hired academics to put their names on the papers to cover up the cancer risk of its blockbuster product, Roundup.
Just Released Docs Show Monsanto 'Executives Colluding With Corrupted EPA Officials to Manipulate Scientific Data' https://t.co/aCYVEIWPSn— Mark Ruffalo (@Mark Ruffalo)1501631043.0
As noted by the Center for Biological Diversity in a press release, each of the articles were highly critical of the 2015 finding by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen.
"It's deplorable that Monsanto was the puppet master behind the supposedly 'independent' reviews of glyphosate's safety," said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the center, in the press release. "These papers were manufactured as a way to counteract the World Health Organization's findings on glyphosate's cancer risks. They could mislead the public in dangerous ways and should be completely retracted."
Monsanto's alleged role in the safety reviews of glyphosate was offered as evidence in a landmark trial that resulted in the company being ordered to pay $289 million to a California groundskeeper who said he developed cancer from exposure to Roundup.
Germany's Bayer, which acquired Monsanto for $63 billion, is appealing the verdict and is facing roughly 9,500 plaintiffs in the U.S. who say exposure to glyphosate causes cancer, Bloomberg reported.
In October 2017, the Center for Biological Diversity and three other national environmental health groups sent a letter to the publisher of Critical Reviews in Toxicology demanding a retraction of the articles at question.
It should not have taken a year and multiple protests and calls for honesty to get the editors at CRT to act - Here… https://t.co/ufmZ9G1syt— carey gillam (@carey gillam)1538063268.0
The journal requires disclosure of any potential author conflicts. But according to the Center for Biological Diversity's press release, the Declaration of Interest statement that was originally published with the papers:
- Failed to disclose that at least two panelists who authored the review worked as consultants for, and were directly paid by, Monsanto for their work on the paper.
- Failed to disclose that at least one Monsanto employee extensively edited the manuscript and was adamant about retaining inflammatory language critical of the IARC assessment—against some of the authors' wishes; the disclosure falsely stated that no Monsanto employee reviewed the manuscript.
Monsanto spokesman Sam Murphy told Bloomberg an email that the articles at issue are "a small part of an extensive body of research" showing the herbicide is safe.
Further, he said the company's influence on the papers was "non-substantive" such as providing formatting assistance and giving a history of regulatory overview, according to Bloomberg.
"The scientific conclusions are those of the authors and the authors alone," Murphy added.
- Man vs. Monsanto: First Trial Over Roundup Cancer Claims Set to ... ›
- Monsanto Cancer Ruling Sparks Backlash Around the Globe ›
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.