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Monsanto Emails Raise Issue of Influencing Research on Roundup Weed Killer

10:05 EDT 2 Aug 2017 | Meridian Institute

A release on Tuesday of documents related to a lawsuit against Monsanto has raised questions about the company’s past efforts to influence the debate about glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup. While most regulators say glyphosate is safe, a case in federal court in California is raising questions about the company’s practices and the product itself, this article notes. The documents reveal the depth of the company’s efforts to protect its image. Several documents indicate that Monsanto has ghostwritten articles that are later published by individual authors. For example, Henry I. Miller, a vocal proponent of genetically modified crops, asked Monsanto to draft an article for him that is similar to one that appears under his byline in a Forbes 2015 article. On Wednesday, Forbes removed the story from its website and said that it had ended its relationship with Miller due to the revelations. Other documents highlight internal talk about the safety of Roundup, including one email in which a Monsanto scientist wrote, “If somebody came to me and said they wanted to test Roundup I know how I would react — with serious concern.” Monsanto said it was outraged by the release of the documents. “There is a standing confidentiality order that they violated,” said Scott Partridge, the vice president of global strategy for Monsanto. He said the company would seek penalties against the law firm that released the documents. “What you’re seeing are some cherry-picked things that can be made to look bad,” Partridge added. “But the substance and the science are not affected by this.” R. Brent Wisner, a partner at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, the firm that released the documents, said Monsanto could have filed a motion to protect the documents. “Clearly Monsanto’s lawyers made a mistake,” Wisner said. “They didn’t properly take action to preserve the confidentiality of these documents… Now the world gets to see these documents that would otherwise remain secret.”

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