Glyphosate no longer needs an introduction. The famous weed killer Monsanto began producing in 1974 under the name of "Roundup" has now fallen into the public domain. Since March 2015, the product has been classified as "probably carcinogenic" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Monsanto has been disputing the danger of glyphosate for years, producing studies, expert testimony and counter arguments in favor of their product. There's even been suspicion that the corporation paid researchers and possibly the EPA itself to make false claims in support of the product.
But Monsanto seems to have finally been caught red handed, as the New York Times reports that new evidence has come into play. On Tuesday, a federal court released the "Monsanto Papers" – 250 pages of internal correspondence proving explicitly that Monsanto was aware of the toxicity of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, the most widely used weed killer in the world.
A genotoxic substance
The correspondence dating back to 1999, reveals that at the time, Monsanto wanted to prove that their product was harmless by producing a reliable and indisputable study.
They reached out to James Parry, a scientist specialized in genotoxicity, and professor at the University of Swansea in Wales. Except that instead of confirming that the product was safe, Parry's research found that glyphosate had a potential clastogenic effect in vitro, which means the substance can disrupt DNA and cause chromosomal anomalies.
In other words, glyphosate contains properties capable of modifying the humane genome and causing cancer, which is why Parry recommended carrying out further research on the subject.
But Monsanto executives were not pleased with the findings. They said they were disappointed with the results and the report was buried. In correspondence between Monsanto toxicologists reported in French newspaper Le Monde, we read:
"Parry isn't the person we need and it would take a lot of time, money and studies to get him to be that person [...] We simply aren't going to conduct the studies he suggests."
Since then, the corporation seems to have gathered the "researchers" and "scientists" they needed to come up with findings they liked better.
Monsanto continues to dispute the findings of the World Health Organization (WHO) who has also classified glyphosate as a likely carcinogen. And considering the corporations was bought last September by Bayer for $66 billion, we assume they've got enough money to pay good lawyers and find "experts" to support their case.