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Date: Wed, Apr 3, 2019 at 1:48 PM
Subject: ‘A Lot of That Science They Point to Is Science They Paid For’ -
CounterSpin interview with Carey Gillam on Monsa...

[image: FAIR]
‘A Lot of That Science They Point to Is Science They Paid For’ -
CounterSpin interview with Carey Gillam on Monsanto lawsuit view post on

*Janine Jackson interviewed Carey Gillam about *Hardeman v. Monsanto* for
the March 29, 2019, episode
of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.*
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*MP3 Link*
[image: Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of

Whitewash*, by Carey Gillam*

*Janine Jackson*: The case is called *Edwin Hardeman v. Monsanto*
which sounds something like *David v. Goliath*. Hardeman is a 70-year-old
man who says using Roundup
weed killer, for nearly 30 years caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

And Monsanto is, well, Monsanto. Recently acquired
by German drug and crop chemicals company Bayer for some $66 billion, the
corporate behemoth commands
more than a quarter of the combined world market for seeds and pesticides,
with a famously active PR machine

And yet Goliath lost. The jury in US District Court in San Francisco
the necessary unanimous decision, finding that Roundup caused, or was
a substantial
in causing, Hardeman’s cancer. And that Monsanto should be held liable,
because the herbicide is not labeled
to warn of that risk.

The company, naturally, is appealing
But with more than 11,000
other cases in the wings, this story isn’t going away anytime soon.

Our next guest has been following this case and others. A longtime food and
agriculture journalist at *Reuters*, Carey Gillam is now research director
at US Right to Know
and author of the book
The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science, *out
from *Island
Press*. She joins us now by phone from Kansas. Welcome back
to *CounterSpin*, Carey Gillam.

*Carey Gillam:* Thanks for having me.

*JJ:* Listeners may remember the case last year in which a California jury
that the use of Roundup by a school groundskeeper, Dewayne “Lee” Johnson,
was a substantial factor in *his* non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But that ruling
didn’t make this one a sure thing, or even an expected thing.
[image: Buzzfeed: A Man Said He Got Cancer After Spraying Monsanto's Weed
Killer. A Jury Agreed.]

*Buzzfeed (3/19/19

I’m noticing that some coverage seems to be taking a line that, as a former
federal prosecutor was quoted
on one news show, the verdict “proves that juries are being convinced that
Roundup is causing cancer.” Another headline
was, “A Man Said He Got Cancer After Spraying Monsanto’s Weed Killer. A
Jury Agreed.” It makes it sound as though these court decisions are mainly
the result of fancy lawyering, or maybe even deception. But Hardeman’s
attorneys presented scientific data
, just as Monsanto did
; it wasn’t based on sympathy-mongering or something, right?

*CG: *Right. Of course, it is Bayer and Monsanto’s argument, or position,
that the science is on their side, that the weight of scientific evidence
shows no cancer risk, no carcinogenicity connection to its glyphosate-based
herbicides like Roundup. But the evidence tells us otherwise.

And, of course, I’ve written
a whole book about it, and talked about it many times. The weight of
scientific evidence, published peer-reviewed epidemiology, toxicology,
metadata done over multiple years, multiple countries, does indeed show
a cancer risk associated with these herbicides, with clear association to
non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. And that’s what caused the International Agency for
Research on Cancer, in 2015, to classify
glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, as a probable human
carcinogen. So there’s a great deal of scientific evidence, and that’s what
is convincing juries.

But the second leg of this, or the second part of it, is there’s also a
great deal of evidence of Monsanto’s manipulation
of the scientific record. So when Monsanto says
it has all of this science on its side, well, we know now from internal
Monsanto documents
that a lot of that science they point to is science that they paid for,
that they wrote, that they ghostwrote
that they manipulated
—that they essentially had a hand in creating a safety narrative that
really was not true.

*JJ:* It’s interesting, because I think that was why some folks were
surprised by the ruling in *Hardeman*, because the judge, Vince Chhabria,
had taken a lot of issue
hadn’t he, with Hardeman’s attorneys presentation of the case? And what he
seemed to take particular issue with was lead attorney Aimee Wagstaff’s
effort to introduce evidence of just that, of Monsanto’s effort to
manipulate regulators, including ghostwriting
safety reviews. And I’m not sure, legally, whether that’s permissible, but
it sure sounds relevant to me as a layperson, if the company is then going
to rely on that data from those regulators.

*CG:* Right. Well, what Chhabria did—and this is the federal judge; the
*Johnson* case was in state court—but what he did was really unusual. He
threw Monsanto a bone. Monsanto said, “You know what? Let’s just let the
jurors hear only about the scientific evidence.”

And so the judge divided
the case into two phases. And the first phase was sharply limited
to only discussion and presentation of scientific studies to the jurors.
And Monsanto thought that they would win that. If the jurors couldn’t know
about their ghostwriting and manipulation, they thought that they could win.

But, in fact, they did not.  The jurors in that first phase said
after looking at all of the scientific evidence, that the weight of
evidence was on the plaintiff’s side. And they found that, yes, it did
cause his cancer.

In the second phase of the trial was when they considered damages
and that was when they looked at the manipulation of science, and came back
with this $80 million verdict.

*JJ: *Let me just keep you on regulators for a second. When you’re reading
press accounts, you see:  Bayer/Monsanto flatly deny
that glyphosate-based herbicides are carcinogenic, and they cite
the Environmental Protection Agency. So in media stories, you get kind of
between institutions, between the World Health Organization, EPA and
different groups
What are we to make of the disagreements between various regulatory
entities on this?

*CG:* Well, a couple of different elements to that. So No. 1 is that most
of the regulatory agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency,
only require
a large body of evidence about the active ingredients. So in the case of
Monsanto’s products, the active ingredient is glyphosate. It is not the
*only* ingredient, but it is the active ingredient. So their studies, that
they were required to present to the EPA, was limited to glyphosate.

Now, the products on the store shelves are not glyphosate only; they
include surfactants. And scientists around the world who have studied
the actual formulated products have said
that the way that these surfactants interact with glyphosate make it much
more toxic than glyphosate by itself.

And Monsanto admits
it has never done any long-term studies about these formulated products,
and the EPA admits
that it’s never required any long-term studies. So the actual products that
we’re being exposed to, and that are being used out there, and that these
plaintiffs [have] used, have never had any long-term regulatory
requirements for carcinogenesis studies. And that is shocking to a lot of
people. But that is the fact. So that’s one element.

The other element is, again, the regulators rely primarily on data and
information that’s been given to them by the companies that sell the
chemicals. And we know, from analysis
that’s been done, that studies that are done by companies that profit from
those products generally find those products to be safe. Whereas
independent analysis and independent research is more likely to find risk,
if risk is there. We have to take that into account when they point to the
EPA as the all-knowing being that we should rely on.

*JJ: *Right. So it’s about carcinogenicity; it’s also about the right to
know. I mean, capitalists talk a good game about choice. But what is choice
without information
And the failure-to-warn
I’ve heard, is very important in these cases. But I have to say, I still
wonder how much say a farmworker, for example, really has, even if there’s
a label on the product. And given the ubiquity
of these chemicals in our food, I certainly think the failure-to-warn is
critical, but I wonder if there are some things that a label doesn’t cover,
if you will.

*CG:* Yeah, that’s true. The failure-to-warn is a big issue. Now for the
users of this who are exposed occupationally, a warning is a big deal.
Because if you’re told, “Hey, this could cause cancer,” or, “This is
particularly dangerous, you want to make sure that you don’t get it on your
skin, and you don’t inhale it. And you wear gloves and long pants and a
mask,” that’s going to provide a degree of protection.

And they *didn’t *do that with this product. They said it’s safe as table
safe enough to drink
people are out there in sandals, spraying it. You know, Mr. Hardeman was
spraying a backpack sprayer around, with no protective gear. So that’s the

When it’s in the food, you’re not voluntarily consuming food with pesticide
residues in them—or maybe you are, most people don’t think about that!
That’s a different animal.

But again, if this had been classified differently by our EPA, it would not
be *allowed* to be sprayed directly onto food crops; we wouldn’t have the
types of residues that we’re having in food if it had been judged
differently by the EPA.

*JJ: *And then I would just note that I know that some of the work is
around, not just farmworkers, but farmworkers’ children, who, of course,
have different levels of susceptibility
from damage from this. So you really have to look at who all is coming in
contact with it, and it’s not just necessarily the person spraying it.

*CG: *Gosh, no, I mean, right. There have been studies where they find
this in the urine of farmworkers’ children, even though the children are
not out there working in the fields. And our government scientists have
found that this chemical, because it’s so widely used, it’s in air samples;
you see residues, traces of it, in rainfall; even it’s in the soil. It’s
pretty ubiquitous, particularly in farm country.

*JJ: *Well, in the end, Vince Chhabria had some strong—or in the middle, I
guess—he actually had some very strong language, in which he said

There is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto
does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people
cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining
anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue.

That is some pretty strong language. And, I have to say, I read it as a
heads-up to the press as well.

*CG: *Exactly. And he also did say
in that same ruling, that there are “large swaths of evidence,” the
scientific evidence, showing that this product could be considered
carcinogenic, and that Monsanto’s been trying to ignore
those large swaths of evidence. So it’s not just the manipulation, it is
also the scientific evidence that’s brought these juries, twice now, to
these multi-million-dollar verdicts.
[image: Carey Gillam]

*Carey Gillam: “We’re allowing these companies, a handful of very powerful
companies, to really dominate the regulatory system, the political system,
food policy matters, agricultural policy, in which we all are just exposed
to pesticides and chemicals that can do harm to our health.”*

*JJ: *Media coverage has taken some familiar turns, talking about the loss
for Monsanto and Bayer, as though they were the harmed party here.

But then also, I think, just framing stories around lawsuits and trials
affects how we hear them. So when you hear about how Dewayne Johnson was
$280 million in damages, and that was later reduced
to about $80 million, and $80 million in *Hardeman*, you have to remember
that Monsanto has almost endlessly deep pockets, and, you know, money
doesn’t cure cancer. So just speaking of it in terms of, “Oh, they won,”
doesn’t really give you an accurate picture of what’s happening here, I
don’t think.

*CG: *Definitely. And I spoke with the plaintiffs attorneys, Aimee Wagstaff
and Jennifer Moore, yesterday, and we talked about that. You know, it’s
great to say, “We won,” and there’s money, and this cancer victim will get
a few dollars.

But it’s really a larger picture and a larger problem in this world, where
we’re allowing these companies, a handful of very powerful companies, to
really dominate the regulatory system, the political system, food policy
matters, agricultural policy, in which we all are just exposed to
pesticides and chemicals that can do harm to our health.

And analysts are expecting
that a global settlement from Bayer to put an end to all of this litigation
might be between $2 and $5 billion.  $2 to $5 billion is not going to
cripple Bayer, Monsanto’s new owner.

So if people really want to see change, and we really want to have accurate
information, to be informed, reporters and others need to start paying
attention to the big picture here, and what’s happening to our environment,
to our health, and how this company and these revelations in these jury
trials, what they mean, what they *really* mean.

And that’s what I think is more important about these trials, is not who
wins or who loses or how much money. I think what’s important is that it
puts a spotlight on a really important public policy issue, and brings to
light a lot of secret information. Internal Monsanto documents and
regulatory documents and scientific studies that the general public has not
heard about, 40 years of information that’s finally coming to light in
these jury trials.

*JJ: *We’ve been speaking with Carey Gillam, research director at US Right
to Know
You can find their work on this and other issues online at
The book
is *Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of
Science, *and it’s out now from *Island Press.* Carey Gillam, thank you so
much for joining us this week on *CounterSpin*.

*CG: *Thank you for having me.


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