An EPA official bragged about helping Monsanto cover up cancer risks associated with Roundup, a new lawsuit is alleging.
Roundup is one of the best-selling herbicides in the world.
“If I can kill this I should get a medal,” former EPA official Jess Rowland allegedly said in a phone call, discussing a federal investigation into glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.
At the time, Rowland was a deputy division director in the Environmental Protection Agency’s pesticide division.
The phone call was entered as evidence in a federal lawsuit alleging that glyphosate-based herbicides like Roundup cause Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a deadly form of cancer, Bloomberg reported.
Just as significant, Monsanto’s Donna Farmer wrote in a now-public email that “you cannot say that Roundup does not cause cancer … we have not done carcinogenicity studies with Roundup.” The email is now part of the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys are alleging that Monsanto knew Roundup caused cancer but sold the herbicide anyway.
Rowland’s relationship with Monsanto was suspicious, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said at a hearing in San Francisco. Plaintiffs’ attorneys want Rowland to testify and explain his actions.
The attorneys are charging that Rowland leaked a report to the media that claimed there was insufficient evidence to say glyphosate caused cancer. It was written by a committee he chaired. Rowland quit his job at the EPA days after the study was leaked.
“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,” U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said, according to Reuters.
Monsanto employees were the ghost writers for two reports on Roundup that the committee headed by Rowland relied on for its findings, plaintiffs’ attorneys charged. The reports concluded that glyphosate was not carcinogenic.
“I think it’s important that people hold Monsanto accountable when they say one thing and it’s completely contradicted by very frank internal documents,” plaintiffs’ attorney, Timothy Litzenburg, told The New York Times.
Around 220 million pounds of glyphosate were used in the United States in 2015, The Times reported. Monsanto makes much of its money from selling corn, cotton and soybean seeds that are genetically engineered to resist glyphosate.