Tuesday, 21 March 2017
“For once in your life, listen to me and don’t play your political conniving games with the science to favor the registrants……For once do the right thing and don’t make decisions based on how it affects your bonus.” [then EPA senior toxicologist Marion Copley writing to Jess Rowland as quoted in Meridian Institute article, 8 March 2017]
Bloomberg, 15 March 2017:
The Environmental Protection Agency official who was in charge of evaluating the cancer risk of Monsanto Co.’s Roundup allegedly bragged to a company executive that he deserved a medal if he could kill another agency’s investigation into the herbicide’s key chemical.
The boast was made during an April 2015 phone conversation, according to farmers and others who say they’ve been sickened by the weed killer. After leaving his job as a manager in the EPA’s pesticide division last year, Jess Rowland has become a central figure in more than 20 lawsuits in the U.S. accusing the company of failing to warn consumers and regulators of the risk that its glyphosate-based herbicide can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“If I can kill this I should get a medal,” Rowland told a Monsanto regulatory affairs manager who recounted the conversation in an email to his colleagues, according to a court filing made public Tuesday. The company was seeking Rowland’s help stopping an investigation of glyphosate by a separate office, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, that is part of the U.S. Health and Human Service Department, according to the filing.
A federal judge overseeing the glyphosate litigation in San Francisco said last month he’s inclined to order Rowland to submit to questioning by lawyers for the plaintiffs, who contend he had a "highly suspicious" relationship with Monsanto. Rowland oversaw a committee that found insufficient evidence to conclude glyphosate causes cancer and quit last year shortly after his report was leaked to the press……
The plaintiffs’ lawyers say Rowland’s communications with Monsanto employees show the regulator who was supposed to be policing the company was actually working on its behalf.
The unsealing of the court documents "represents a huge development in public health," said Tim Litzenburg, one of the lawyers suing Monsanto. Regulatory agencies, scientists, consumers and physicians "can see some of what Monsanto was actually engaging in behind the scenes, and how they have manipulated the scientific literature to date. That’s important to their decision-making, not just our lawsuits."
After the phone conversation with Rowland, the Monsanto head of U.S. regulatory affairs, Dan Jenkins, cautioned his colleagues not to “get your hopes up,” according to an email cited in the court filing.
“I doubt EPA and Jess can kill this,” Jenkins wrote. He may have spoken too soon. Another internal Monsanto memorandum unsealed on Tuesday said the ATSDR, as the federal toxics agency is known, "agreed, for now, to take direction from EPA."…..
The ATSDR announced in the Federal Register in February 2015 that it planned to publish a toxicological profile of glyphosate by October that year. It never did. The agency’s press office didn’t respond to multiple phone messages seeking comment. EPA representatives also didn’t immediately respond to phone messages seeking comment.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers said in another filing made public Tuesday that Monsanto’s toxicology manager and his boss, Bill Heydens, were ghost writers for two of the reports, including one from 2000, that Rowland’s committee relied on in part to reach its conclusion that glyphosate shouldn’t be classified as carcinogenic.
The EPA “may be unaware of Monsanto’s deceptive authorship practice,” the lawyers said.
Among the documents unsealed was a February 2015 internal email exchange at the company about how to contain costs for a research paper. The plaintiff lawyers cited it to support their claim that the EPA report is unreliable, unlike a report by an international agency that classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen…..
Jess Rowland was Associate Director- Health Effects Division, Office of Pesticides Program at the US Environmental Protection Agency. He appears to have retired in the first half of 2016.