Former EPA Worker Helped Monsanto Keep Glyphosate Dangers Hidden From Public

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The EPA is supposed to protect consumers, but it turns out at least one official with the agency was much more concerned with the interests of agro-giant Monsanto. Allegations that former EPA pesticide division manager Jess Rowland killed a 2015 investigation into glyphosate, the key ingredient of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, have surfaced after a series of court documents were made public Tuesday thanks to the U.S. Right to Know campaign.

“If I can kill this, I should get a medal,” Rowland allegedly told a Monsanto regulatory affairs manager in 2015 about the planned investigation from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry regarding the herbicide, which has not only been proven to be a likely carcinogen by the World Health Organization, but has also been linked by independent, peer-reviewed studies to liver damage, Alzheimer’s, autism, gluten intolerance, digestive problems, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and increased sensitivity to other food-borne toxins.

At the time of the planned investigation, Rowland was also overseeing an EPA committee that found insufficient evidence to conclude glyphosate causes cancer, yet two of the reports that the committee relied on to reach this conclusion were ghostwritten by none other than Rowland himself and his boss, Bill Heydens.

“We would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and [outside scientists] would just edit & sign their names so to speak,” Heydens wrote in an e-mail, which then goes on to say that Monsanto had used this process for a 2000 study, Bloomberg reports.

Rowland left the EPA last year (just days after the report was leaked to the press, according to some court documents). Since then, he has become a central figure in more than 20 lawsuits against Monsanto, including the case currently being heard by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs contend Rowland had a “highly suspicious” relationship with Monsanto at the time of these allegations, and Chhabria said he’s inclined to order Rowland to submit to questioning in light of this fact.

“My reaction is when you consider the relevance of the EPA’s reports, and you consider their relevance to this litigation, it seems appropriate to take Jess Rowland’s deposition,” said Chhabria.

Monsanto, meanwhile, continues to contend that glyphosate doesn’t actually cause cancer.

“Plucking a single email out of context doesn’t change the fact that the U.S. EPA and regulators around the world have concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans,” the company said in a statement.

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Emily Monaco is a food and culture writer based in Paris. Her work has been featured in the Wall... More about Emily Monaco