Monsanto’s defence of its Roundup weed killer may take a hit after an academic journal said the company didn’t fully disclose its involvement in published research finding the herbicide safe.
A correction issued by a journal that analyses health risks of chemicals, may bolster allegations that Monsanto, now part of Bayer AG, ghost-wrote safety reviews as lawyers try to convince juries that Roundup causes cancer.
Monsanto has defended the independence of the 2016 review, and the journal – Critical Reviews in Toxicology – isn’t changing the papers’ scientific findings.
But the journal’s publisher stated last week that it is issuing an “expression of concern” linked to the articles because the authors “have been unable to provide an adequate explanation to why the required level of transparency was not met on first submission”.
Allegations that Monsanto ghost wrote scientific literature to rebut claims that a key chemical in Roundup causes cancer, and emails supporting them, were featured at the first trial over the herbicide, which resulted in a $289m (€253m) verdict against the company last August.
A San Francisco jury made the award to a former school groundsman who claimed that Roundup contributed to his terminal cancer.
A Monsanto spokesman stated that the journal articles in question are “a small part of an extensive body of research” showing glyphosate-based herbicides are safe.
The company’s influence on the articles was “non-substantive, and “the scientific conclusions are those of the authors and the authors alone”.
Bayer faces litigation by more than 9,500 plaintiffs in the US, mostly farmers, who blame exposure to glyphosate for non- Hodgkin lymphoma.
The next trial may be sometime between December and February.