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Internal Memo Shows White House ‘Has Monsanto’s Back’ On Pesticides

"Public inspection" of the Monsanto facility at Enkhuizen, Netherlands Date: 2 November 2010, 13:25 (Photo: Luther Blissett)
"Public inspection" of the Monsanto facility at Enkhuizen, Netherlands Date: 2 November 2010, 13:25 (Photo: Luther Blissett)

“I doubt anything can be done to overturn the EPA actions at this point, at least not quickly. The administration has demonstrated it has no respect for scientific conclusions, court orders, or public demands for protective policies.”

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency said it would no longer approve product labels that claim glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller – is known to cause cancer, which the EPA called a “false claim.” The decision was condemned by experts who cite mounting evidence to the contrary, such as the World Health Organization’s 2015 assessment that the chemical is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

But as Carey Gillam, an investigative journalist who has covered the agrochemical industry for over two decades, notes, internal documents reveal the EPA’s true motive for the decision:

“When reporters write about @EPA decision not to allow cancer risk labeling on Monsanto@Bayer glyphosate herbicides, they should also point out this internal Monsanto document that says the White House “has Monsanto’s back,” Gillam tweeted.

Documents Show White House Literally Has ‘Monsanto’s Back’

Internal documents recently disclosed in court show that strategic intelligence firm Hakluyt assured Monsanto’s global strategy official Todd Rands that the White House could be trusted to protect the company’s Roundup herbicide.

The documents, obtained by U.S. Right to Know, a non-profit investigative research group focused on the food industry, included a report attached to a July 2018 email to Monsanto global strategy official Todd Rands. The strategic intelligence and advisory firm Hakluyt reported to Monsanto the following:

“A domestic policy adviser at the White House said, for instance: ‘We have Monsanto’s back on pesticides regulation. We are prepared to go toe-to-toe on any disputes they may have with, for example, the E.U. Monsanto need not fear any additional regulation from this administration.”

The documents also explain how there are “sharp” disagreements between the EPA’s professional staffers, who believe glyphosate is carcinogenic, and political staffers, who reject the evidence, while assuring that professionals won’t interfere with the Trump administration’s decisions.

The Hakluyt report also suggested the EPA could manage gylphosate the same way it handled chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that is the active ingredient in an insecticide made by Dow Chemical, now DowDupont. There is strong scientific evidence that chlorpyrifos causes severe damage to child brain development, but the Trump administration has fought against bans on the toxic chemical.

“The way the EPA under the Trump administration has handled Chlorpyrifos might be instructive in how it would handle new science or new developments related to glyphosate,” Hakluyt employee Nick Banner wrote.

Profits Over People

When asked if the internal memos could be used to undermine the White House’s rationale in court, Ms. Gillam told Citizen Truth, “I doubt anything can be done to overturn the EPA actions at this point, at least not quickly.”

As Gillam explains in her book Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science, Monsanto’s influence on US regulatory policy has long preceded the Trump administration:

“Glyphosate stands out as the one widely used pesticide that has not been included in years of annual government surveys of pesticide residues in foods,” Gillam wrote in Whitewash. “It’s also notable that as the USDA and FDA have been declining to test for glyphosate residues over the past twenty years, the EPA, which regulates pesticides, has been approving industry requests for higher and higher allowable levels of glyphosate residues in food.”

Gillam continues to explain that in 2013, the EPA raised the legal amount of glyphosate residue considered safe to “levels far higher than in other countries.”

The prioritization of corporate profits over the public health has accelerated under the Trump administration, however, as seen by the coal lobbyist-led EPA decisions to disregard experts on climate science and asbestos as well as government support for glyphosate and chlorpyrifos.

“The administration has demonstrated it has no respect for scientific conclusions, court orders, or public demands for protective policies,” Gillam told Citizen Truth.

Last month, Trump nominated former Monsanto executive Aurelia Skipwith to run the Fish and Wildlife Service. Similarly, numerous former DowDuPont employees currently work in the Trump administration, such as former Dow lobbyist Ted McKinney, the USDA undersecretary for trade, Ken Isley, the head of the Foreign Agricultural Service, and Scott Hutchins, a deputy undersecretary at the USDA.

Former Dow CEO Andrew Liveris donated a million dollars to President Trump’s inauguration fund and was picked to lead the president’s manufacturing council before it was disbanded after several members resigned in protest of President Trump’s equivocal response to racist violence in Charlottesville.

Monsanto’s Attack On Carey Gillam

Last week, records disclosed as part of an ongoing legal battle filed over the health dangers of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide revealed the company operated a “fusion center” aimed at discrediting journalists and activists who criticized the agricultural giant. Carey Gillam was a particular point of focus for the fusion center, as she had followed Monsanto for years and written a book that detailed its efforts to suppress unfavorable science and manipulate regulatory law.

Monsanto, now owned by the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer, recruited Washington D.C.-based FTI Consulting to help develop a plan to discredit Whitewash, including posting fake negative reviews on Amazon and paying Google to promote search results for a blog post criticizing her work. The company also tried to convince Reuters, where Gillam worked at the time, to reassign or remove her.

The fusion center also monitored US Right to Know (USRTK), the non-profit that focuses on food safety where Gillam now works, and even targeted musician Neil Young for his anti-Monsanto advocacy.

Thousands of people who believe Roundup gave them cancer or other health problems have filed suits against Monsanto, and more internal documents are expected to be revealed as the cases continue.

“Important point: These revelations come from only a handful of dox; I have confirmed there are actually over 10,000 internal pages that mention me but are sealed,” tweeted Gillam. “And I am only one of their targets. This is just a scratch in the surface of Monsanto’s strategy to silence critics.”

Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a co-owner Citizen Truth.

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1 Comment

  1. Larry N Stout August 16, 2019

    Respect is not something that the Trump administration accords to anyone or anything. Trump is a god unto himself, unfit for membership in society, much less public office.


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