Monsanto Banned From Parliament

biotech giant glyphosate

Story at-a-glance -

  • Members in the European Parliament (MEPs) announced that Monsanto officials would no longer be able to meet MEPs or attend committee meetings, essentially banning them from parliament
  • The blow came after the biotech giant refused to attend a hearing over allegations that Monsanto inappropriately influenced studies into the safety of glyphosate
  • A ruling over whether or not to relicense glyphosate in the EU is expected by the end of 2017, which means the ban could not have come at a more inopportune time for Monsanto

By Dr. Mercola

Members in the European Parliament (MEPs) announced that Monsanto officials would no longer be able to meet MEPs, attend committee meetings or even use "digital resources" in Brussels or Strasbourg parliament premises, essentially banning them from parliament.1

The blow came after the biotech giant refused to attend a hearing organized by environment and agriculture committees over allegations that Monsanto engaged in regulatory interference, by influencing studies into the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in their Roundup herbicide.

The Guardian quoted Green party president Philippe Lamberts, who stated, "Those who ignore the rules of democracy also lose their rights as a lobbyist in the European parliament … U.S. corporations must also accept the democratic control function of the parliament. Monsanto cannot escape this."2 This is one of the harshest examples yet in terms of a large government body not allowing Monsanto lobbyists to talk to its members going forward.

In the U.S., Monsanto has significant influence on government agencies, but even in the U.K., which was originally more resistant to Monsanto's genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the company has made a lot of headway in changing their image. That being said, European Commission leaders met in March 2016 to vote on whether to renew a 15-year license for glyphosate, which was set to expire in June that year.

The decision was tabled amid mounting opposition, as more than 180,000 Europeans signed a petition calling for glyphosate to be banned outright. Ultimately, more than 2 million signatures were collected against relicensing the chemical. In June 2016, however, the European Commission granted an 18-month extension to glyphosate while they continued the review. A ruling is expected by the end of 2017, which means the lobby ban could not have come at a more inopportune time for Monsanto.

Monsanto Refuses to Attend EU Hearing, MEPs Withdraw Parliamentary Access

NGO Corporate Europe Observatory spokesman Martin Pigeon told The Guardian it was "extremely important that parliament has been prepared to meet Monsanto's unbelievable arrogance with real retaliation and consequences."3 Indeed, in a stark departure from the U.S. government's cozy ties with Monsanto, the European Parliament has taken a much-needed stand. As for why Monsanto refused to attend the hearing, they said in a letter to MEPs, seen by The Guardian:4

"The joint hearing could be viewed as the latest attempt by those opposed to modern agricultural practices to influence and frustrate the EU scientific and regulatory process to suit their own agenda … We have observed with increasing alarm the politicization of the EU procedure on the renewal of glyphosate, a procedure which should be scientific but which in many respects has been hijacked by populism."

The European Parliament, however, wanted to get answers regarding reports that they were misled regarding studies on Roundup's toxicity. One study in question was conducted by Gilles-Eric Séralini. The lifetime feeding study, published in 2012, revealed numerous shocking problems in rats fed GMO corn, including massive tumors and early death. Rats given glyphosate in their drinking water also developed tumors.

The following year, the publisher retracted the study saying it "did not meet scientific standards," even though a long and careful investigation found no errors or misrepresentation of data.

Interestingly enough, in the time between the publication of the study and its retraction, the journal had created a new position — associate editor for biotechnology, a position that was filled by a former Monsanto employee. The editor of the journal that retracted the study was also reportedly paid by Monsanto.

As GM Watch reported, " … [E]mails released show that Monsanto was active in the retraction process, though it tried to hide its involvement."5 Séralini not only republished the study in another journal, he also took legal action, and at the end of 2015, he won two court cases against some of those who tried to destroy his career and reputation.

In the first case, Marianne magazine and a journalist by the name of Jean-Claude Jaillette — who accused Séralini of "scientific fraud in which the methodology served to reinforce pre-determined results" — were found guilty of public defamation. In a second case, Marc Fellous, former chairman of the Biomolecular Engineering Commission of France, was indicted for forgery and the use of forgery in a libel trial.

Glyphosate Front Group Tells EU Not to Consider Critical Roundup Study

Follow-up research by Séralini showed that long-term exposure to even ultra-low amounts of Roundup may cause tumors, along with liver and kidney damage in rats. In this study, the dose used was "environmentally relevant in terms of human, domesticated animals and wildlife levels of exposure," prompting the authors to suggest Roundup may have significant health implications.6,7

However, because the original study was "retracted," it was excluded from the EU glyphosate assessment. The Glyphosate Task Force, an industry front group, even said it was "not considered reliable anymore."

Hans Muilerman of consumer group Pesticide Action Network (PAN) recently sent letters to EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), stating that the study's exclusion amounts to "a very serious case of manipulation" of science.8 GM Watch further reported:

"Muilerman writes in his letters, 'We conclude from these facts that the Glyphosate Task Force's characterization of the Séralini study as 'not reliable' is itself not reliable, originating, as it does, from a campaign orchestrated by Monsanto' … He explains: 'The Séralini study is the longest chronic experiment with the full formulation of glyphosate — and we know that the co-formulants change its toxicity.

Since data requirements for chronic toxicity of formulations are missing in the Regulation, the Séralini study fills an important knowledge gap as well as serving the obligation in the Regulation … to take into account cumulative and synergistic effects.

It is a bitter shame that the Rapporteur Germany accepted this manipulation by the Glyphosate Task Force.' Muilerman calls on Andriukaitis to 'commission a fully independent panel of top level scientists that have no link whatever to industry to redo the review.'"

US Scientists Decide to Skip Monsanto's Dicamba Summit

Roundup isn't Monsanto's only controversial and toxic herbicide. Equally contentious is dicamba, which is prone to drifting. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved Monsanto's new weedkiller, XtendiMax, which goes along with its Roundup Ready Xtend cotton and soybeans — GE plants designed to tolerate both glyphosate and dicamba, in November 2016.

However, Monsanto sold dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybean seeds to farmers before the herbicide designed to go with them (which is supposedly less prone to drifting) had gotten federal approval. In 2016, when farmers sprayed their new GE crops with older, illegal formulas of dicamba, and it drifted over onto their neighbors' non-dicamba-resistant crops, devastating crop damage was reported in 10 states.9

Meanwhile, Monsanto held a "dicamba summit" in September 2017 near its headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, hoping to gain approval from more scientists about its damaging weed killer, but of the approximately 60 people invited, only about 30 reportedly planned to attend. University of Missouri plant sciences professor Kevin Bradley, who's been tracking crop damage due to dicamba sprayings across the U.S., was among those who declined to attend, citing the company's unwillingness to discuss volatilization.10

Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee are presently investigating more than 2,000 reports of dicamba damage.11 As of August 2017, an estimated 3.1 million acres across the eastern half of the United States have been damaged by dicamba drift.12 Meanwhile, by June 2017, Arkansas had received more than 400 complaints from farmers whose crops were damaged by dicamba drifting over from neighboring farms.13

In response, the Arkansas Plant Board voted to pass an emergency temporary ban on spraying the weedkiller, and by September 2017 state officials were "just one step away" from banning dicamba sprayings in the summer of 2018.14

Widespread Monsanto Manipulation Coming to the Surface

Monsanto continues to contest the International Agency for Research on Cancer's (IARC) 2015 determination that glyphosate is a "probable carcinogen," even as it's become clear that they may have worked with a U.S. EPA official to stop glyphosate investigations.

Email correspondence showed Jess Rowland, who at the time was the EPA's deputy division director of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and chair of the Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC), helped stop a glyphosate investigation by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on Monsanto's behalf.

In an email, Monsanto regulatory affairs manager Dan Jenkins recounts a conversation he'd had with Rowland, in which Rowland said, "If I can kill this I should get a medal,"15 referring to the ATSDR investigation, which did not end up occurring. Meanwhile, former Reuters reporter Carey Gillam has written a revealing book on Monsanto's long-term and continuing corruption of science, titled "Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science."

She details the approximately 3,000 plaintiffs in the U.S. who believe exposure to glyphosate caused their, or a loved one's, cancer, while Monsanto knew it was toxic and covered up the evidence. Court-ordered unsealed documents have revealed that Monsanto scientists ghost-wrote studies to clear glyphosate's name and even hired a scientist to persuade the EPA to change its cancer classification decision on the chemical.16

Gillam also told Corporate Crime Reporter that Monsanto would bully journalists who dared to go against the "corporate narrative." "Monsanto has made a concerted effort to train reporters on how to report on the industry," she said. "They are holding boot camps and bringing in these supposedly independent professors and others to train these reporters and others how to think about the science and the issues. They are trying to influence press coverage."17

In addition, she describes the company's ongoing manipulation of science and the press, and the revolving door that keeps Monsanto in control of government regulations. With the manipulation that continues to come to the surface, the EU Parliament was wise in their decision to withdraw Monsanto's access. Gillam told Corporate Crime Reporter:

"[Do]cuments show that Monsanto has put together an army of surrogates and soldiers — professors, academics — people who appear to be independent of Monsanto, but who in fact, behind the curtains, are having money funneled to their organizations, to their universities, to their research programs.

In exchange, some of them are having Monsanto write the presentations that they deliver. They are taking drafts that Monsanto will put together and their name will be put on an independent positive review of glyphosate.

In fact, Monsanto wrote it. That is not disclosed anywhere … There is also the revolving door. When officials leave the EPA, they can get lucrative jobs within the chemical industry — if they are friendly, if they are useful. There was an EPA official overseeing the glyphosate cancer review. He left the EPA and almost immediately started getting work with the chemical industry. And Monsanto loved this guy.

They talked about it in their internal documents, how useful he could be. And how they wanted him to be the one they were dealing with, instead of somebody else on the glyphosate issue."

You Can Find Out How Much Glyphosate Is in Your Body

Laboratory testing commissioned by the organizations Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse revealed that glyphosate is now showing up virtually everywhere. The analysis revealed glyphosate in levels of 76 μg/L to 166 μg/L in women's breast milk. As reported by The Detox Project, this is 760 to 1,600 times higher than the EU-permitted level in drinking water (although it's lower than the U.S. maximum contaminant level for glyphosate, which is 700 μg/L.).18

This dose of glyphosate in breast-fed babies' every meal is only the beginning. An in vitro study designed to simulate human exposures also found that glyphosate crosses the placental barrier. In the study, 15 percent of the administered glyphosate reached the fetal compartment.19 Glyphosate has also been detected in a number of popular foods, including oatmeal, coffee creamer, eggs and cereal, such as Cheerios.

If you'd like to know your personal glyphosate levels, you can now find out, while also participating in a worldwide study on environmental glyphosate exposures. The Health Research Institute (HRI) in Iowa developed the glyphosate urine test kit, which will allow you to determine your own exposure to this toxic herbicide.

Ordering this kit automatically allows you to participate in the study and help HRI better understand the extent of glyphosate exposure and contamination. In a few weeks, you will receive your results, along with information on how your results compare with others and what to do to help reduce your exposure. We are providing these kits to you at no profit in order for you to participate in this environmental study.

In the meantime, eating organic as much as possible and investing in a good water filtration system for your home are among the best ways to lower your exposure to glyphosate and other pesticides. In the case of glyphosate, it's also wise to avoid desiccated crops like wheat and oats.

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