Cancer-causing chemicals: Monsanto loses cancer label lawsuit, accused of ghostwriting study

A California judge has ruled against Monsanto Co. in its attempt to prevent the main ingredient in the company’s Roundup herbicide products from being added to a state list of cancer-causing chemicals.


Separately, Creve Coeur-based Monsanto was accused in a court filing unsealed Tuesday of ghostwriting scientific papers that led an EPA regulator to conclude glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, shouldn’t be classified as a carcinogen, Bloomberg reported.

The filing, part of lawsuit by farmers claiming glyphosate exposure caused their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, included a 2015 email exchanged between Monsanto employees suggesting they ghostwrite a few sections of a research paper in order to save money.

The email further states that’s how a 2000 study was handled, the news agency reports.

Monsanto denied the allegations and said the plaintiffs’ attorneys “cherry-picked a single email,” stating that Monsanto employees did not ghostwrite the paper, which underwent a peer review process.

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“Consistent with standard practices for academic and scientific peer-reviewed publications, the contributions of Dr. (William) Heydens and other Monsanto experts were fully and publicly listed in the ‘Acknowledgements’ section of the Williams et al (2000) paper,” the company said in a statement.

“Although 15 years later Dr. Heydens referred to such fully acknowledged contributions as ghostwriting, he described his actual role in the Williams et al paper under oath as follows: ‘I made some minor editorial contributions to that 2000 paper that do not mount to the level of a substantial contribution or an intellectual contribution and, thus, I was only recognized in the acknowledgements and not as an author, and that was appropriate for the situation.’ He further clarified, ‘It was things like editing relatively minor things, editing for formatting, just for clarity, really just for overall readability to make it easier for people to read in a more organized fashion.'”

Read the full statement from Monsanto here.

The company has cited the EPA’s ruling numerous times in its defense of glyphosate, including in its 2015 lawsuit against California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) for proposing to add glyphosate to the agency’s Proposition 65 list of known carcinogens.