Emails released as part of a federal lawsuit against Monsanto suggest the agriculture supplier cozied up to an EPA regulator and sought to whitewash studies to ignore potential cancer-causing effects of an herbicide found in weed-killer.
NPR reports the emails show the company asked scientists to co-sign safety studies on glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup, after the International Agency for Research on Cancer found glypshosate may cause cancer. NPR wrote the company emails were revealed earlier this week in a lawsuit brought by cancer victims accusing the company of working with the EPA to bury health dangers of the herbicide.
The emails show company representative William Heydens suggesting the company “ghost-write” a finding. He wrote, according to NPR, “we would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and they would just edit & sign their names so to speak.”
The company denied the accusation in a statement to CBS.
“These allegations are false. Monsanto scientists did not ghostwrite the paper,” the company said. “No regulatory body in the world considers glyphosate to be a carcinogen.”
The EPA, NPR reports, later found glyphosate likely doesn’t cause cancer, seconding similar findings by the European Food Safety Agency and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The emails, Bloomberg reports, also show EPA regulator Jess Rowland boasting in a 2015 email to Monsanto that, “If I can kill this I should get a medal,” referring to a Monsanto effort to stop a government investigation into glyphosate.
CBS reported another email from a Monsanto employee to an EPA director said, “I doubt EPA and Jess can kill this, but it’s good to know they are going to actually make the effort.”
The company defended the relationship in an interview with Bloomberg. Scott Partridge, the company’s vice president of global strategy, said the emails were “a natural flow of information” and is “not an effort to manipulate the system.”
Rowland, Bloomberg reports, has left the EPA’s pesticide division and is involved in about two dozen lawsuits related to the company not disclosing potential cancer-causing hazards of glyphosate.