The case against Monsanto is the gift that keeps on giving.
Previously in these pages I discussed how the trial of Monsanto currently taking place in the California Northern District Court—technically known as “Multidistrict Litigation,” with the formal title of “In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2741)“—is airing some of the agrichemical behemoth’s dirtiest laundry. In my article “Monsatan On Trial For Roundup Cancer,” I revealed how dozens of lawsuits filed against Monsanto for its role in causing the non-Hodgkin lymphoma of thousands of people across the US had been rolled into one dramatic court case, and how discovery from that case had yielded the remarkable deathbed testimony of EPA whistleblower Jess Rowland.
Then new documents emerged from the case confirming what many had long suspected: Monsanto has an entire internal corporate program (appropriately entitled “Let Nothing Go”) employing an army of internet trolls who spam the company’s propaganda on every social media post, forum and online comment board where its products and practices are being discussed.
Just this week, one of the law firms working on the trial released an equally explosive collection of “Monsanto’s Secret Documents,” proving another long-suspected claim against the world’s most evil company: That it has in fact ghostwritten many of the key articles defending its products in the mainstream press—articles that were supposedly written by “independent” journalists. When the embarrassing details of the story came to light, including a suggested “draft” of an article written by Monsanto for Forbes “journalist” Henry Miller in 2015 that was exactly identical to the article that appeared under his name, Forbes pulled the piece from its website and ended Miller’s employment. In a different leaked email exchange, former Monsanto consultant John Acquavella complained to a Monsanto executive, “I can’t be part of deceptive authorship on a presentation or publication,” adding, “We call that ghost writing and it is unethical.”
But if all that weren’t bad enough, the latest documents to emerge from the case also detail exactly how Monsanto attempted to smear the research of Gilles-Éric Séralini, the French scientist who published a groundbreaking study showing an increase in tumors among rats fed genetically modified corn and Monsanto’s RoundUp herbicide.
The Séralini affair, as it has come to be known, is something that long-time Corbett Reporteers will be familiar with by now. For those who haven’t seen my COUGHProjectCensoredAwardWinningCOUGHvideo on the subject, here it is again:
In a nutshell, a team of researchers led by Dr. Gilles-Eric Séralini of the University of Caen published a study called “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize,” in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2012. The study involved Séralini’s team following 200 rats through a two-year feeding study. They divided the rats into 10 groups of 20 each (10 male rats and 10 female rats). Rats in three of the groups were fed Monsanto’s patented NK603 GMO corn alone. Rats in another three groups were fed the corn treated with Roundup herbicide. Rats in three other groups were fed Roundup-treated water but no GMO corn. And rats in the tenth group, a control group, were fed neither GMO corn nor Roundup herbicide. The team’s results indicated that the rats fed the Roundup or the GMO corn, either separately or combined, were more likely to experience a range of ill health effects than the non-GMO control group.
So far, so straightforward. But then the Monsanto PR machine™ kicked into action. Suddenly, the study was being pilloried as “unscientific” from all quarters. This is not to say that it had failed to apply the usual scientific standards and practices. Rather, it was “unscientific” because it had (correctly) applied the very standards and practices of all previous toxicity studies on glyphosate. The problem, according to the studies vocal critics, was that the Séralini’s team had observed the rats for their full two-year average lifespan, while previous industry-sponsored feeding studies had observed the rats for only three months. Tellingly, Séralini’s team found that most of the adverse health effects documented in the study did not begin developing until the fourth month of the experiment.
Condemnations of the study, which had been carried out in near-total secrecy to avoid industry pressure, were swift in coming. For example, the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA)—the very same agency that in 2009 had recommended NK603 Roundup-tolerant maize for regulatory approval in the EU without any independent testing—issued a blistering 22-point press release defending its own assessment of the GM corn’s safety. The EFSA concluded that Séralini’s work “does not meet acceptable scientific standards and there is no need to re-examine previous safety evaluations of genetically modified maize NK603.” What the press release neglected to mention was that the EFSA had not examined the safety of Monsanto’s corn in the first place. That is, it had conducted no animal tests itself, instead relying on “information supplied by the applicant” (i.e., Monsanto). …