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Does Monsanto’s “discredit bureau” really exist?

by Stephanie Hampton

Reuters is reporting that Monsanto is demanding a sit-down with members of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). This international scientific body is being called on the carpet for reporting that Monsanto’s most widely sold herbicide, which is inextricably linked to the majority of their genetically engineered products, is probably carcinogenic to humans.
In a DO-YOU-KNOW-WHO-WE-ARE moment, Monsanto’s vice president of global regulatory affairs Philip Miller said the following in interview:

“We question the quality of the assessment. The WHO has something to explain.” – [emphasis mine]

Evidence for the carcinogenicity of Glyphosate comes from a peer-reviewed study published in March of 2015 in the respected journal The Lancet Oncology.

Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide, currently with the highest production volumes of all herbicides. It is used in more than 750 different products for agriculture, forestry, urban, and home applications. Its use has increased sharply with the development of genetically modified glyphosate-resistant crop varieties. Glyphosate has been detected in air during spraying, in water, and in food. There WAS limited evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of glyphosate.

~snip~

Glyphosate has been detected in the blood and urine of agricultural workers, indicating absorption. Soil microbes degrade glyphosate to aminomethylphosphoric acid (AMPA). Blood AMPA detection after poisonings suggests intestinal microbial metabolism in humans. Glyphosate and glyphosate formulations induced DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals, and in human and animal cells in vitro. One study reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage (micronuclei) in residents of several communities after spraying of glyphosate formulations.
[emphasis mine]

Recently, I attended a talk by Monsanto’s Dr. William “Bill” Moar who presented the latest project in their product pipeline dealing with RNA. Most notably, he also spoke about Monsanto’s efforts to educate citizens about the scientific certainty of the safety of their genetically engineered products. The audience was mostly agricultural students many of whom were perhaps hoping for the only well-paid internships and jobs in their field.

One student asked what Monsanto was doing to counter the “bad science” around their work. Dr. Moar, perhaps forgetting that this was a public event, then revealed that Monsanto indeed had “an entire department” (waving his arm for emphasis) dedicated to “debunking” science which disagreed with theirs. As far as I know this is the first time that a Monsanto functionary has publically admitted that they have such an entity which brings their immense political and financial weight to bear on scientists who dare to publish against them. The Discredit Bureau will not be found on their official website.

The challenge for Monsanto’s Discredit Bureau is steep in attacking the unimpeachably respected Lancet and the international scientific bodies of WHO and IARC. However, they have no choice but to attack since the stakes are so very high for them. Glyphosate is their hallmark product upon which the majority of their profits are based. Make no mistake, this is extremely bad news for Monsanto.

Monsanto holds up the sheer abundance of their own well-funded studies citing the safety of Glyphosate, done over only the past twenty years which is a short period of time in scientific inquiry particularly when dissenting research is actively suppressed. They also hold up the findings of regulatory bodies, particularly in the United States where the revolving door between agrochemical corporations and government spins at high speed.

Critics of the agrochemical industry have often cited the history of these corporations who rush their products to market with protestations of safety only to discover down the road that they have become persistent ecological and health nightmares. We are seeing the end of that road for Glyphosate.


UPDATE: Read the second diary in what is rapidly turning into a series. USDA Tentacle of Monsanto ‘Discredit Bureau’?
featured image adapted from Po3ticTreachery

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