by Sayer Ji
Two studies have appeared in scientific journals in the past eight months, both funded by Monsanto, and both discrediting a Roundup herbicide-cancer link.
The context within which these new studies are appearing is the growing body of experimental research indicating that the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, along with the surfactants and related "inactive" ingredients found within glyphosate-based formulations, cause genetic damage associated with cancer initiation, and at levels far below those used agricultural applications and associated with real-world exposures.
This has put manufacturers and proponents of glyphosate, as well as "Roundup Ready" GM plants in a vulnerable position.
If, the precautionary principle is employed and a much-needed reclassification of glyphosate as a class III carcinogen to a class II or I occurs, the increasingly global dominance of GM-based food crop systems will come to a screeching, regulation-induced halt.
So, given the threat posed by non-industry funded research on glyphosate’s toxicity, Monsanto has been putting money into research and development -- but not in the reputable sense of the phrase -- bypaying for research to develop the storyline that, despite damning research to contrary, Roundup is still safe.
The newest study, published in the journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology titled, "Epidemiologic studies on glyphosate and cancer: A review," declared its glaring conflict of interest in the following manner:
Conflict of Interest Statement
The authors have disclosed the funding source for this research. JSM [study author] has served has a paid consultant to Monsanto Company. Final decisions regarding the content of the manuscript were made solely by the four authors.
This research was supported by the Monsanto Company, St. Louis, Missouri
Even if no such a conflict was explicitly declared, industry-funded research is almost exclusively positive, minimizing or denying harms to exposed populations associated with the products they are evaluating.
A salient example is the recent summary of 176 studies by Baker[viii] which found that published research looking into the impact of Bisphenol A on human health resulted in exclusively pro-industry findings:
Funding Harm No Harm Industry 0 13 (100%) Independent (e.g. government) 152 (86%) 11 (14%) Adding to the problem, the editorial boards of some of the journals within which the questionable science is printed are populated by paid consultants of the very industries they publish ostensibly impartial research on.
For example, the editor of the journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology withinwhich latest Monsanto-funded glyphosate-cancer review was published, Gio Batta Gori, is notorious for being a tobacco industry consultant and for publishing junk science in his journal, which has been called: "A Scientific Journal with Industrial Bias as Its Specialty."
His journal published research in 2003, provided by the same company, Exponent, which employs three of the researchers who authored the latest glyphosate-cancer study, as well as one author on the 2011 glyphosate-cancer study, on the purported non-carcinogenicity of dioxin, a highly toxic ingredient in Agent Orange.
Given these obvious conflicts of interest, from the bottom up and the top down, the time has come for people to enact reform with their dollars and their forks, and when worthwhile ballot initiatives emerge, their votes.
#1: Stop buying anything not explicitly labeled non-GMO or certified organic, which amounts to the same assurance.
#2: Grow it yourself, or support local organic growers.
#3: Support the California Ballot Initiative to label GMOs.