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Monsanto Leaks Suggest It Tried To Kill Cancer Research On Roundup Weed Killer (rt.com) 242

Danny Hakim reports via The New York Times (Warning: article may be paywalled; alternate source): Documents released Tuesday in a lawsuit against Monsanto raised new questions about the company's efforts to influence the news media and scientific research and revealed internal debate over the safety of its highest-profile product, the weed killer Roundup. The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is the most common weed killer in the world and is used by farmers on row crops and by home gardeners. While Roundup's relative safety has been upheld by most regulators, a case in federal court in San Francisco continues to raise questions about the company's practices and the product itself.

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. Mr. Miller could not be reached for comment. 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." Mr. Miller's 2015 article on Forbes's website was an attack on the findings of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization that had labeled glyphosate a probable carcinogen, a finding disputed by other regulatory bodies. In the email traffic, Monsanto asked Mr. Miller if he would be interested in writing an article on the topic, and he said, "I would be if I could start from a high-quality draft." The article appeared under Mr. Miller's name, and with the assertion that "opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own." The magazine did not mention any involvement by Monsanto in preparing the article.

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Monsanto Leaks Suggest It Tried To Kill Cancer Research On Roundup Weed Killer

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  • So What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @11:42PM (#54938157)
    Company kills people for profit, then covers it up?

    How is this news? It's called "capitalism".
    • Re:So What? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Pentium100 ( 1240090 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @11:45PM (#54938171)

      When a discussion about genetically modified food comes up, I always say that the technology itself is great, but also, the management and some stock holders of Monsanto need to get a one way ticket to Siberia.

      • Re:So What? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Friday August 04, 2017 @12:21AM (#54938291)
        The other is that the pro-GMO people insist that anti-GMO means that if you eat GMO, that you die.

        GMO is bad because of mono crop issues.

        GMO is bad because resistance to herbicides induces over-use of them.

        GMO is bad because GMO has been used to have plants make toxins. So GMO food can contain poison. And there are no regulations about this or any other use of GMO.

        GMO is bad because it has been used to make kill-genes, even if only in the lab, and between that and mono-crop the results of a wide-spread release could cause massive destruction.

        GMO is bad because Monsanto claims it's harmless, and when Monsanto says something, the opposite is more likely true.

        But the pro-GMO crowd doesn't talk about the reasonable objections. Instead, it's all about the strawman.
        • Re:So What? (Score:5, Informative)

          by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Friday August 04, 2017 @12:46AM (#54938369) Homepage

          GMO will have great benefits if done properly. No poison crops, no cross breeding in the wild with related organisms, no self destruct genes. Do it smart in controlled environments ie highly genetically modified algae or more specifically kelp et al and you can grow anything you want in a salt water tank, any protein, sugar, carbohydrate, salt, any flavour or texture, low allergen because the plant does not need to protect itself as much growing in a protected environment. Done in major production facilities very close to demand and producing year round. As a bonus millions of hectares of farm land freed to become natural parks creating a healthier environment for us all. Energy is key.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by AK Marc ( 707885 )
            So, because done right, it has benefits, that means that done wrong should be tolerated or encouraged? Since labor builds value, slavery should be legal. Nope, just because done right is good, it doesn't mean that it should be done poorly, at all, under any circumstances.
            • Re:So What? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Kiuas ( 1084567 ) on Friday August 04, 2017 @06:50AM (#54939095)

              So, because done right, it has benefits, that means that done wrong should be tolerated or encouraged?

              That's not what he said or implied though. He pointed out that there are ways in which GMOs can be used correctly and for the benefit of everyone to get better food with less energy/demand on the soil.

              The whole problem with the GMO-discussion is that people mix up 2 things, namely the scientific process of genetic modification, and the gigantic corporations that seek to make profit using the process - sometimes in ethically questionable ways.

              All of the food we eat is 'genetically modified' in the sense that we've been breeding and artificially selecting for desirable traits in plants and animals for millenia, now it's just become possible to do it at way faster timescales and increasing accuracy. The fact that there is corporate greed and instances seeking to take advantage of this process for their own personal benefit at the expense of other people does not invalidate the process of gene modification itself anymore than criminals and scammers using the internet for malicious ends makes the whole of the internet a bad thing.

            • I just love that two comments up you complain about strawmen, and then you go and post this:

              So, because done right, it has benefits, that means that done wrong should be tolerated or encouraged? Since labor builds value, slavery should be legal.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            GMO will have great benefits if done properly. ... no cross breeding in the wild with related organisms,

            Sorry to break it to you, but plants are whores. Pollen season is literally mass plant jizzing everywhere trying to find any and all possible mates. So, it's basically impossible to do GMO properly if it depends in any part on wild plants not cross breeding.

            Do it smart in controlled environments ie highly genetically modified algae or more specifically kelp et al and you can grow anything you want in a

          • Re:So What? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by coofercat ( 719737 ) on Friday August 04, 2017 @08:43AM (#54939507) Homepage Journal

            "Done right" for GMO sounds to me like "done right" for nuclear power - it's possible, but it'll never really happen because financial realities always make it fail.

            Selective breeding has nature taking a hand in the outcome, and as such it far less likely to cause a problem that we find hard to solve (although exceptions occur, I guess). GMO research is frankly at the very beginning - we "think" a particular gene or whatever 'turns on and off' some feature of the plant, but honestly, we have no idea what else it does too. I strongly suspect that in a few decades people will wonder how on earth we ate any of the GMO food around today. Then they'll look into it and realise the only way people would buy it was if it was mixed in with non-GMO and not labelled as such.

            I'm by no means saying we shouldn't research this stuff - I just seriously doubt we know even half of what we really need to know for it to be "done right".

          • by Moskit ( 32486 )

            GMO crops are like any other technology.
            They're either a benefit or a hazard.
            If they're a benefit, it's not a problem.

          • GMO will have great benefits if done properl

            You mean if it's not implemented by a sociopathic bioweapons manufacturer with plans to dominate the world's food supply? Nope, can't argue with that.

        • Re: So What? (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "And there are no regulations about this or any other use of GMO."

          And here's where we get to you spouting nonsense. GMO foodstuffs are the most heavily regulated of any crops. Also, it's interesting that you'll happily consume the exact same 'toxin' when it's produced in another plant, but use transgenesis to bring that same trait to a GMO crop to protect it against parasites, and you lose your mind?

          I really should debunk you point by point since your entire argument is "they won't debate these perfectly fi

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 )

          It's crazy because if they would simply LABEL GMO (and what genes were added from what other plant/animal) instead of sneaking it in, then people wouldn't have rare allergic reactions and most would buy it if it were 10% cheaper.

          Then after 5 years, they could raise the prices to be the same and folks would stay with it.

          But as it is, they act so shady that it makes people suspicious.

          • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

            Stupid thing is that simply adding extra copies of genes already in wheat you can boost yields by between 15-20% in a greenhouse (obviously not tested in a field yet)

            https://www.newscientist.com/a... [newscientist.com]

            Why anyone would be against this is utterly beyond me. However this is the insanity of blanket bans on GMO food, which for the record all the food and I mean *ALL* the food we eat is genetically modified.

            • by Khyber ( 864651 )

              "Stupid thing is that simply adding extra copies of genes already in wheat you can boost yields by between 15-20% in a greenhouse (obviously not tested in a field yet)"

              We've already had this tech - it's called Colchicine and we've used it for DECADES on many various crops, from watermelon to cannabis.

          • So GMOs cause peanut, soy, etc. allergies?

            No wonder people used to be less freaked out about them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by yndrd1984 ( 730475 )

          GMO is bad because of mono crop issues.

          Do you think that people would be rotating crops more without GMOs? Or are you misusing the term "mono crop".

          GMO is bad because resistance to herbicides induces over-use of them.

          Which is only even possible for herbicide-related traits, and why refuges are required, and why new traits dealing with different herbicides are developed - and this has also been a (minor, manageable) issue ever since we had herbicides.

          GMO is bad because GMO has been used to have plants make toxins. So GMO food can contain poison.

          BT is toxic only to insects, and is frequently used by organic farmers.

          And there are no regulations about this or any other use of GMO.

          Are you insane? You don't believe that the USDA, FDA, and EPA regulate GMOs?

          GMO is bad because it has been used to make kill-genes, even if only in the lab, and between that and mono-crop the results of a wide-spread release could cause massive destruction.

          So something that h

          • Re:So What? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday August 04, 2017 @06:00AM (#54938969) Homepage Journal

            GMO is bad because Monsanto claims it's harmless, and when Monsanto says something, the opposite is more likely true.

            Non sequitur.

            You'd like to think that, but history shows us that Monsanto Always Lies. Kind of like TEPCO.

        • by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Friday August 04, 2017 @06:32AM (#54939049)
          GMO is bad because it has been used to make kill-genes, even if only in the lab, and between that and mono-crop the results of a wide-spread release could cause massive destruction.

          Or lock the farmers into having to buy their seeds from one certain manufacturer. Essentially, GMO allow a few companies to control the world's food supply.

          And then there's lawsuits due to patent and other forms of IP issues. "Sorry, you're gonna starve now because you infringed our copyright."

        • GMO is bad because GMO has been used to have plants make toxins. So GMO food can contain poison.

          You mean the BT expressing crops? The ones that make crystal protein structures identical to what's made by the organic pesticide BT? You can drop the exact same stuff on organic crops and there's no limit to how much can be on a food crop at harvest. The stuff is so safe the FDA doesn't care if you eat it.

        • GMO is bad because of mono crop issues.

          I like to forage on the weekends, and I have bad news for you. All of humanity is sustained off of mono-crops and has been so for thousands of years. The vast variety of edible plants in the wild is staggering, but we have selected and cross bread only a few over the centuries. And you might think we chose the best, but often times, we only chose the most convenient.

          In a week or two I will go down to the creek bottoms and harvest pounds of pawpaw fruit. It is a delicious, plentiful and large fruit th

        • The other is that the pro-GMO people insist that anti-GMO means that if you eat GMO, that you die. GMO is bad because of mono crop issues. GMO is bad because resistance to herbicides induces over-use of them. GMO is bad because GMO has been used to have plants make toxins. So GMO food can contain poison. And there are no regulations about this or any other use of GMO. GMO is bad because it has been used to make kill-genes, even if only in the lab, and between that and mono-crop the results of a wide-spread release could cause massive destruction. GMO is bad because Monsanto claims it's harmless, and when Monsanto says something, the opposite is more likely true. But the pro-GMO crowd doesn't talk about the reasonable objections. Instead, it's all about the strawman.

          Do you enjoy Canola oil, which is derived from GMO rapeseed?

        • GMO is bad because of mono crop issues.

          Untrue, and a non-sequitur. GMOs come in different varieties for different plants, and the diversity will only grow as more and more variants for different conditions (heat, high salt, low water, etc.) are developed. More to the point, this is an issue with large-scale farming in general, not GMOs. Hell, GMOs allow us to more easily get around mono-crop issues.

          GMO is bad because resistance to herbicides induces over-use of them.

          This is mixed. Sometimes resistance allows farmers to use fewer herbicides, or smaller amounts, of more specific or less harmful ones. Sometimes they

      • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Friday August 04, 2017 @03:35AM (#54938695)

        This is yet another technology where there is a clear need for strong regulation, IMO. Gene manipulation is a technology that has huge potential implications, both good and bad; it can - and probably will in the future - be used to improve crop yields and add disease resistance, and it is of course already being tried out in gene therapies for a number of serious conditions. We could produce many important chemicals - drugs and other - in a cheap and easy way by modifying a suitable micro organism. But as Monsanto and others have demonstrated, companies and individuals driven by short-sighted greed can potentially cause enormous harm, not the least of which is the damage to public trust in this technology. Maybe this is too radical, but I am probably in favour on a complete ban on the commercial exploitation on gene editing technology until we have a set of strong and clear, global regulations in place; all research into this should be publicly funded and published in open access journals.

      • This isn't a GMO issue. This is an issue with the herbicide. The crops are engineered to be resistant to it, but it's still the chemical that is the problem, not the plants or their genetics.
    • The rest is just empty fluff and cherry picked quotes.
      All basically amounting to what any scientist would say is proper description of what is currently known or unknown, based on current research.

      "You cannot say that Roundup is not a carcinogen ... we have not done the necessary testing on the formulation to make that statement."
      ...
      "we can make that statement about glyphosate and can infer that there is no reason to believe that Roundup would cause cancer."

      Which is a quote cherry picked out of context from the actual email: [baumhedlundlaw.com]

      As explanation for some of our edits - in many parts of the world there is no such formulation
      being sold called "Roundup". In addition, in the US we have some lawn and garden products with the Roundup name on them but they contain other active ingredients in addition to glyphosate and they may have different properties from glyphosate.
      That is why we were using the phrase Roundup herbicides or Roundup agricultural herbicides.
      When possible it is preferable to use the name of the product that is actually being used and the data that supports that particular formulation.

      The terms glyphosate and Roundup cannot be used interchangeably nor can you use "Roundup" for all glyphosate-based herbicides any more.
      For example you cannot say that Roundup is not a carcinogen ... we have not done the necessary testing on the formulation to make that statement.
      The testing on the formulations are not anywhere near the level of the active ingredient. We can make that statement about glyphosate and can infer that there is no reason to believe that Roundup would cause cancer.

      Another case is quite literally cherry picked to make it sound like "See? They KNOW it causes cancer! AND THEY ARE HIDING IT FROM US!!!eleven1"

      In a 2002 email, a Monsanto executive said, "What I've been hearing from you is that this continues to be the case with these studies - Glyphosate is O.K. but the formulated product (and thus the surfactant) does the damage."

      Actual linked email [baumhedlundlaw.com] shows that one person summarizes an entire study as "glyphosate all basicially had

  • uh, yeah. Sounds like he'd be interested getting a fat check for signing a prepared statement on the bottom line. That goes way beyond '"ghost writing" when you can't even be bothered to write up the biased opinion yourself.

    It's good to see how some of them rebuffed the offer though. This looks like a good example of all the colors of the ethics rainbow.

  • by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Friday August 04, 2017 @12:16AM (#54938275)

    Just for a bit of perspective:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Nitrates, which are found in pretty much any kind of meat or leafy vegetable
    Nearly everything that comes out of the tailpipe of a car
    An organic compound found in most essential oils and grapefruit juice
    Rubber
    The topical medicine used to kill lice
    A compound formed when cooking any meat
    An organic compound found in algae and kelp
    A compound used to make synthetic glycerol used in medical applications
    Ironically, some of the chemicals used to treat certain types of cancers
    An antibiotic on the WHO's list of essential medications
    Most steroids
    One of the most popular drugs used to treat diabetes
    Most fire retardants, including the one usually used in solar cells
    The drink Mate
    Pretty much anything that is fried

    • Just for a bit of perspective:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ [wikipedia.org]... [wikipedia.org]

      Local man uses wikipedia in plea for perspective. Goes up in flames.

      "Who cares about your so-called "study"? I HAVE WIKIPEDIA DAMMIT."

      • by Entrope ( 68843 )

        If Wikipedia is wrong about any of those being grouped by IARC alongside glyphosate as "probable carcinogens", you can go fix it. If you're just going to complain about someone pointing to Wikipedia, without any evidence that Wikipedia is wrong, you're going to look pretty foolish.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      Ironically, some of the chemicals used to treat certain types of cancers

      Not ironic at all. A lot of cancer treatments are about killing any fast growing cells, which is mostly going to be the cancer. They are powerful poisons designed to kill but work as a treatment because they don't kill you all at once. If there is enough of you left after all the cancer has been killed off you are cured.

    • by Trogre ( 513942 )

      You forgot sunlight.

      Sunlight is a Group 1 carcinogen, the highest ranking there is.

    • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Friday August 04, 2017 @02:57AM (#54938601)

      The point is that they tried to suppress the research.

      The question is how risky is glycophosphate that they felt the need to try to suppress research.

      This is like Donald Trump and Jared Kushak's meeting with the russians.

      A) no meeting reported...
      B) there was a meeting with one russian lawyer about adoptions and was meaningless.
      C) uh.. okay so there was a meeting with 2 russians.
      DEF) Increasingly more russians.
      G) Okay so it was supposed to be about russians providing damaging clinton/DNC information
      H) Uh.. Okay so I do have a relationship with the participants going back for years and I did say, "I love it!" when I thought it was about clinton.
      I) Oops.. some of the russians are ex intelligence officers and/or have intelligence training.

      Monsanto is at step B).

      Is it going to turn out that glycophosphates are as carcinogenic as saccharine (not much/really have to literally eat the stuff by the handful) or is it going to be as carcinogenic as dioxins (which were also wonderful and safe until they were not).

      Do we stop at step B.. or are we going to step R?

      • by Entrope ( 68843 )

        Current evidence suggests that glyphosate is closer to saccharin than dioxin. For example, a meeting of the WHO on pesticide residues [who.int] "concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to be genotoxic at anticipated dietary exposures", and that while good on-topic studies in rats were not available, "glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet".

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Friday August 04, 2017 @09:32AM (#54939795)

    The real problem is not discovering yet another corporation lying about how dangerous their product is. The real problem is nothing is being done about it. There's not a fucking thing that will come out of these latest "shocking" revelations. Never has. Never will.

    You want to know how insane it is? If sanctions were actually taken against Monsanto for poisoning food crops and killing people, their lawyers would point to the tobacco industry and say, "Hey! No fair! How come they get to kill people and we can't?!?"

    Greed N. Corruption runs capitalism today, and the lack of action taken against deadly corporations shows that it is sanctioned at the highest levels. The reason is quite simple; resource management is a responsibility held by every government, and population control is a key component of that responsibility.

    Before you label that a conspiracy, take a good hard look at how many deadly products are legal today. Why would Greed ever want to cure cancer? There's trillions to be made treating it instead and it ensures deaths. Outlaw tobacco? Yeah right. That's another Win-Win industry.

    Death is no longer merely a side-effect of life. It is now manufactured.

  • Monsanto is, after all, one of the nastiest, sociopathic and evil corporations on the planet.

  • You can't guarantee unbiased research when money and politics are involved. The anti-Monsanto crowd will fund potentially flawed research to destroy Monsanto. Monsanto has to fund research to defend themselves against politically-motivated smear campaigns. Both sides are going to accuse each other of bias and they are both neither correct nor incorrect on those accusations.

    So, the only way to make this work is for the researchers themselves to be part of a double-blind study. They can't be allowed to kn

  • The headline states: "Monsanto Leaks Suggest It Tried To Kill Cancer Research On Roundup Weed Killer"

    The summary goes on to make various aspersions about authorship credit, which is not the same thing at all! Sheesh, while I know this is Slashdot, it is unusual for the reading comprehension to be THIS bad.

    The article itself is a bunch of selective misquoting in an attempt to portray a narrative that they desperately want to believe in. I have to say I'm very disappointed in the NYT. Some of the more importa

  • So tell me how getting rid of regulations will make businesses more honest and ethical so they don't try to deceive the scientific community or the public.

    I sincerely do want an explanation of the sequence, the cause and effect, that will occur to prompt businesses to behave better.

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