Internal Monsanto documents released by attorneys leading US cancer litigation show that the company launched a concerted campaign to force the retraction of a study that revealed toxic effects of Roundup. The documents also show that the editor of the journal that first published the study entered into a contract with Monsanto in the period shortly before the retraction campaign began.
The study, led by Prof GE Séralini, showed that very low doses of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide had toxic effects on rats over a long-term period, including serious liver and kidney damage. Additional observations of increased tumour rates in treated rats would need to be confirmed in a larger-scale carcinogenicity study.
The newly released documents show that throughout the retraction campaign, Monsanto tried to cover its tracks to hide its involvement. Instead Monsanto scientist David Saltmiras admitted to orchestrating a “third party expert” campaign in which scientists who were apparently independent of Monsanto would bombard the editor-in-chief of the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT), A. Wallace Hayes, with letters demanding that he retract the study.
Use of “third party experts” is a classic public relations tactic perfected by the tobacco industry. It consists of putting industry-friendly messages into the mouths of supposedly “independent” experts, since no one would believe industry attempts to defend its own products. Back in 2012, GMWatch founder Jonathan Matthews exposed the industry links of the supposedly independent scientists who lobbied the journal editor to retract the Séralini paper. Now we have first-hand proof of Monsanto’s direct involvement.
In one document, Saltmiras reviews his own achievements within the company, boasting that he “Successfully facilitated numerous third party expert letters to the editor which were subsequently published, reflecting the numerous significant deficiencies, poor study design, biased reporting and selective statistics employed by Séralini. In addition, coauthored the Monsanto letter to the editor with [Monsanto employees] Dan Goldstein and Bruce Hammond.”
Saltmiras further writes of how “Throughout the late 2012 Séralini rat cancer publication and media campaign, I leveraged my relationship [with] the Editor i[n] Chief of the publishing journal… and was the single point of contact between Monsanto and the Journal.”
Another Monsanto employee, Eric Sachs, writes in an email about his efforts to galvanize scientists in the letter-writing campaign. Sachs refers to Bruce Chassy, a scientist who runs the pro-GMO Academics Review website. Sachs writes: “I talked to Bruce Chassy and he will send his letter to Wally Hayes directly and notify other scientists that have sent letters to do the same. He understands the urgency… I remain adamant that Monsanto must not be put in the position of providing the critical analysis that leads the editors to retract the paper.”
In response to Monsanto’s request, Chassy urged Hayes to retract the Séralini paper: “My intent was to urge you to roll back the clock, retract the paper, and restart the review process.”
Chassy was also the first signatory of a petition demanding the retraction of the Séralini study and the co-author of a Forbes article accusing Séralini of fraud. In neither document does Chassy declare any link with Monsanto. But in 2016 he was exposed as having taken over $57,000 over less than two years from Monsanto to travel, write and speak about GMOs.
Sachs is keen to ensure that Monsanto is not publicly seen as attempting to get the paper retracted, even though that is precisely what it is doing. Sachs writes to Monsanto scientist William Heydens: “There is a difference between defending science and participating in a formal process to retract a publication that challenges the safety of our products. We should not provide ammunition for Séralini, GM critics and the media to charge that Monsanto used its might to get this paper retracted. The information that we provided clearly establishes the deficiencies in the study as reported and makes a strong case that the paper should not have passed peer review.”
Read More at GM Watch.org Aug 2,2017 News