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Monsanto Under Fire Over Alleged Risks of Roundup

But company also got some good news out of Europe
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2017 11:46 AM CDT
Monsanto Under Fire Over Alleged Risks of Roundup
Containers of Roundup for sale at a hardware store in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

(Newser) – Monsanto has had a big—and mostly bad—week, with lots of headlines revolving around something called glyphosate, the key ingredient in its popular herbicide Roundup. Here's what's happening:

  • On Friday, Monsanto lost a court fight to prevent California from labeling glyphosate a carcinogen, reports the Fresno Bee.
  • But then came good news for the company. On Wednesday, the European Chemical Agency announced that its assessment of glyphosate on behalf of EU countries found that it was safe for public use, per the Guardian. The decision will be reviewed by the European Commission before a final decision is made. (Greenpeace isn't happy.)
  • Meanwhile, another lawsuit is unfolding involving hundreds of Americans who say glyphosate caused their cancer. CBS News talks to one of them, a mother with stage 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma who used to spray Roundup on her lawn every week.

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  • Lawyers for those suing Monsanto allege "highly suspicious" ties between the company and the (now retired) EPA official charged with policing the company. Court documents unsealed this week show that the EPA official once told a company manager, "If I can kill this, I should get a medal," referring to a study on the dangers of glyphosate. See Bloomberg.
  • Those same documents also point to emails suggesting that Monsanto ghostwrote parts of two scientific reports claiming Roundup doesn't cause cancer. The EPA reviewed both before deciding glyphosate was safe, reports Reuters.
  • However, Monsanto says an email from an executive—reading, "We would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and [scientists] would just edit & sign their names so to speak"—was taken out of context, and it accuses opposing attorneys of "cherry-picking" one email out of millions of pages.
  • The perspective of the Chicago Sun-Times' editorial board: The EPA "should conduct a thorough and uncompromising review of the herbicide's potential dangers," while the public should "be wary of industry-supported research."
(Read more Monsanto stories.)

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