Internal Monsanto Emails Show Scientist Stating: “If Somebody Came To Me & Said They Wanted To Test Roundup I Know How I Would React — With Serious Concern”

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A number of interesting documents were released on Tuesday as part of an ongoing lawsuit against Monsanto. Not our typical beat, this seemed worth drawing attention to here on CleanTechnica anyway. Overall, these documents seem to paint a pretty clear picture of a company working to bend the rules to suit its best interests, and also one where there was clear internal “debate” about the actual safety of its best-selling product, Roundup.

To start things off here, I want to draw attention to an internal email from a scientist at Monsanto (all the way back in 2001) that included this line: “If somebody came to me and said they wanted to test Roundup I know how I would react — with serious concern.”

Hardly ambiguous, eh? And not in fitting with the company’s public stance the product is “harmless.”

Where the newly unsealed documents get more interesting, though, is with regard to apparently ghostwritten articles attributed to prominent defenders of the firm and genetically modified crops in general.

The New York Times provides more: “The documents underscore the lengths to which the agrochemical company goes to protect its image. Documents show that Henry I Miller, an academic and a vocal proponent of genetically modified crops, asked Monsanto to draft an article for him that largely mirrored one that appeared under his name on Forbes’s website in 2015.

“A similar issue appeared in academic research. An academic involved in writing research funded by Monsanto, John Acquavella, a former Monsanto employee, appeared to express discomfort with the process, writing in a 2015 email to a Monsanto executive, ‘I can’t be part of deceptive authorship on a presentation or publication.’ He also said of the way the company was trying to present the authorship: ‘We call that ghost writing and it is unethical.’ A Monsanto official said the comments were the result of ‘a complete misunderstanding’ that had been ‘worked out,’ while Mr Acquavella said in an email on Tuesday that ‘there was no ghostwriting’ and that his comments had been related to an early draft and a question over authorship that was resolved.”

Food for thought, huh? Perhaps Mr Acquavella didn’t publish a ghostwritten article, but what about others? While there’s been speculation for some time now that Monsanto employees have ghostwritten some, or many, of the pro-GMO and pro-Roundup articles attributed to supporters of the tech … it’s still interesting to see it all laid out so clearly.

Monsanto is reportedly threatening legal and/or civil action against the law firm that released the documents. Who’s surprised?

The vice president of global strategy for Monsanto, Scott Partridge, stated: “What you’re seeing are some cherry-picked things that can be made to look bad. But the substance and the science are not affected by this.”

Image by Mike Mozart (some rights reserved)

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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