02 May, 2017
Monsanto is being accused of
hiring, through third parties, an army of
Internet trolls to counter negative
comments, while citing positive "ghost-written" pseudo-scientific
reports which downplay the potential risks of their products.
The documents emerged during pre-trials on 50 lawsuits against
Monsanto which were pending in the US District Court in San
The plaintiffs allege
that exposure to the biotech giant's flagship product, the
herbicide Roundup, caused them or
their relatives to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, while Monsanto
concealed the potential risks.
In March, a judge
ruled, despite Monsanto's objections, that the documents obtained by
the plaintiffs could be released. The court papers are being
gathered at the website of
food-safety whistleblower organization US Right to Know.
alleged that Monsanto targeted all online materials and even social
media comments that indicate potential dangers of its products,
according to one document
released late in April.
"Monsanto even started the
aptly-named 'Let Nothing Go' program to leave nothing, not even
Facebook comments, unanswered.
Through a series of third parties,
it employs individuals who appear to have no connection to the
industry, who in turn post positive comments on news articles
and Facebook posts, defending Monsanto, its chemicals, and GMOs,"
the document reads.
On a larger scale,
"quietly funnels money to 'think
tanks' such as the 'Genetic Literacy Project' and the 'American
Council on Science and Health- organizations' intended to shame
scientists and highlight information helpful to Monsanto and
other chemical producers," according to the plaintiffs.
The accusations are
backed by a batch of emails, used in court as evidence, which were
written by some Monsanto
executives, instructing the staff to "ghost-write"
articles and then have some
"independent scientists" just sign their names under the
"study" in order to reduce
"A less expensive/more palatable
approach might be to involve experts only for the areas of
contention, epidemiology and possibly MOA (depending on what
comes out of the IARC meeting), and we ghost-write the Exposure
Tox & Genetox sections,"
the letter's excerpt reads.
"An option would be to add Greim
and Kier or Kirkland to have their names on the publication, but
we would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and
they would just edit and sign their names so to speak.
Recall that is how we handled
Williams Kroes & Munro, 2000."
dismissed such allegations,
claiming that the plaintiffs'
attorneys took a,
"single comment in a single email
out of context."
The new accusations
appear to be better-founded than earlier ones, which were largely
based on the words of one of Monsanto's top executives, Dr.
William Moar, who
reportedly said at a
conference in January 2015 that the
company had an "an entire
department," dedicated to
"debunking" science which disagreed with the agrochemical
giant's own research.
One of Monsanto's
most well-known attempts to silence
"bad" science was related to a report issued by the World
Health Organization's (WHO)
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
in March 2015. (Some
Organophosphate Insecticides and Herbicides - IARC Monographs on the
Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans)
labeled the report as "biased,"
and demanded it be retracted.
The report said
Roundup's key ingredient glyphosate was
"We question the quality of the
Monsanto's vice president of global regulatory affairs, Philip
"The WHO has something to explain."
'Lawsuits have no merit,
glyphosate does not cause cancer' - Monsanto to RT
In a response to
this story, a Monsanto representative has sent a statement to RT,
[saying] that glyphosate is not the cause" of cancer.
regulatory agency in the world considers glyphosate
Monsanto referred to regulatory authorities in Europe, US,
Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Australia, who "have
publicly reaffirmed that glyphosate does not cause cancer."
attorneys in the United States have been soliciting plaintiffs
for potential lawsuits since an ad hoc working group called
IARC incorrectly classified
glyphosate," the statement said, adding that "these
attorneys are attempting to tie the IARC classification to
individual cases of cancer, and they have been running
advertisements to recruit plaintiffs. These lawsuits have no
IARC's erroneous classification has attracted media attention
and been used repeatedly by certain anti-agriculture
organizations to generate unwarranted fear and confusion,
regulators around the world continue to support the safe use of
glyphosate," Monsanto's email to RT said, adding that the
company "empathize[s] with anyone