Renewable Farming

Chinese lawsuit asks disclosure of Roundup safety data

The World Health Organization’s classification of Roundup as a probable human carcinogen is likely to encourage a global flurry of lawsuits to force disclosure of the “rest of the story” on Roundup: Were the additional ingredients in Roundup — besides the “active” ingredient glyphosate — ever determined as safe in the environment?

An example from Argentina: We’re seeing e-mail traffic indicating that a non-government group of environmental lawyers is preparing a case based on demographic data which may link Roundup/GMOs to a rising syndrome of human illness in regions of Argentina where the herbicide is heavily used. 

And today, one of our Chinese friends, Chen I-Wan, notified participants who attended the 2014 Food Safety conference of a potentially significant lawsuit: The Beijing Intermediate Court No. 3 has accepted a citizen’s lawsuit which demands disclosure of all safety data which the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture considered in allowing entry of the Monsanto herbicide, Roundup, into China. The court considered the plaintiff’s claim valid, and reasoned that the manufacter, Monsanto, is also a stakeholder in this case.

As of Aapril 8, Chen I-Wan updated us with this detail:  “The court informed the Beijing food safety volunteers that the court is organizing an English translation of the concerned documents to be forwarded to Monsanto, informing them that Monsanto is an involved party of the case. Will then wait and see how Monsanto responds.”

Until now, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture has brushed off such demands for disclosure with the view that certain of Monsanto’s safety data is proprietary and confidential. For example: Most safety tests were done with only glyphosate, not including adjuvants in the complete Roundup formulation which enhance effects of glyphosate. The public data relevant to Roundup which we’ve seen on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website includes only studies of the active ingredient, glyphosate.

A widely cited critic of Roundup, Purdue Professor Emeritus Dr. Don Huber, points out a reason why the World Health Organization’s findings are so significant: “
The difference in the reviews (and conclusions) is that the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer analyzed peer-reviewed scientific studies.  EPA only reviewed ‘secret’ company studies and statements of safety!”

Thus, it will be fascinating to watch the legal maneuvering in overseas courts. In 2009, the highest court in France found Monsanto guilty of misleading advertising that its herbicide “left the soil clean.” It’s generally known that both glyphosate and one of its breakdown components, AMPA, can persist in some soils for more than a year. 

Here is a summary of the court case as reported in a Chinese newspaper and translated by Mr. Chen I-Wan:
U.S. Monsanto added as an involving party 
The American seed industry giant Monsanto becomes public focus again. Beijing resident Yang Xiao-lu sues the Ministry of Agriculture, requests information disclosure of Roundup manufactured by Monsanto. The case has been accepted. The collegial panel of the court has informed the plaintiff that, considering Monsanto is a stakeholder to the case, the court has thus decided to add Monsanto as an involving party to the case.

Accordingly, the case around the essential entry component for the company’s glyphosate herbicide Roundup obtaining “pesticide registration” in China, further judicial progress has been made regarding whether the Roundup toxicology test report should be made public as  government information.

Glyphosate is the globally most widely used herbice, developed by Monsanto, widely used in GM crops. Recently, the International Cancer Research Agency (IARC) under the World Health Organization has announced, it is classified glyphosate as “a probable carcinogen to humans.” This conclusion was reached upon study by 17 experts from 11 nations, they evaluated the carcinogenicity of the five types of organophosphate pesticides tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate.

Monsanto has indicated that this result reached by IARC is not mandatory and does not affect the use of glyphosate.
The toxicology animal test report becomes the focus of the legal case
In this “resident suing government official” case, the focus point is: Should the toxicology animal test report submitted by Monsanto for Roundup “pesticide registration” application in China be disclosed to the public?

According to the “Ministry of Agriculture Information Disclosure Application Respond” (Ag. Disclosure 2014] No.4), when Monsanto obtained official “pesticide registration” for its glyphosate herbicide “Roundup” in 1988 in China, per the requirements of pesticide registration at the time, Monsanto submitted a toxicology animal test report issued (by Younger Laboratories) on Dec. 23, 1985.

How has this toxicology animal test report become the focus point of this case?
Chen I-wan, former advisor to Commission of Disaster History for China Disaster Prevention Association, working many years on agricultural disaster and GM crop studies, told the journalist of the Yangtze River Business News: “When Monsanto applied ‘pesticide registration’ for its formulated herbicide Roundup in 1988 in China, it submitted a toxicology animal test report, which, from date, signature to content, is all suspected counterfeit.”

Chen I-wan considers, “Furthermore, when Monsanto applied ‘pesticide registration’ in 1988 in China, it was applying ‘pesticide registration’ for its formulated herbicide Roundup, but the suspected forged documents submitted by Monsanto were toxicology animal test reports on the single ingredient glyphosate, and not toxicology animal test report on the formulated herbicide Roundup.”  
The studied evidence provided by Chen I-wan show, a U.S. EPA document dated July 2, 1992 on reevaluation of toxicology animal tests for glyphosate herbicide, does not include the toxicology animal test which Monsanto claims was issued on Dec. 23, 1985.

Chen I-wan says, from the description and conclusion of the “glyphosate herbicide toxicology animal test report issued on Dec. 23, 1985 by the laboratory (Younger Laboratories) commissioned by Monsanto)”, its content is basically the same as the conclusion of the two toxicology animal test reports issued by the Younger Laboratories in 1970 submitted by Monsanto to the EPA.

Regarding the key issue of this case, Chen I-wan tells the journalist of the Yangtze River Business News, Monsanto should provide a scanned copy of the original document, without any deletions/revisions, of the “toxicology animal test report issued by Younger Laboratories issued on Dec. 23, 1985” it submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture when Monsanto applied “pesticide registration” for its glyphosate herbicide Roundup in 1988 in China.

Prof. Yan Hai-rong, Applied Social Science Dept., Hong Kong Polytechnic University, says, “The Beijing No. 3 Intermediate Court adds Monsanto as an involving party to the case. It is a responsible action, makes legal sense, and is helpful to discover the overall truthful facts of the case.” 

She [the judge] considers that the introduction/imports of any agricultural and food related new technology or new products all concern public health and consumers’ right to know. The Monsanto glyphosate herbicide Roundup involved in this case is no exception. Roundup is widely used in GM crops, included by the GM soybeans imported by China, accounting for about 60% of global market for GM soybeans. Thus, whatever effect that glyphosate herbicide Roundup residuals in these GM soybeans has on public health is an essential matter.  


As translated by Chen I-wan posted at “Advisor Chen I-wan Blog”  (The Chinese version is on top; scroll down for the English version)

We would also expect legal and regulatory pushback against glyphosate to show up in India. A leading proponent of eco-farming and diversity in India, Vandana Shiva, has teamed up with America’s “Moms Across America” to urge a total ban on glyphosate. The evidence implicating glyphosate keeps mounting, as Moms Across America founder Zen Honeycutt points out in this broadside e-mail released Tuesday, April 7:

One year ago today we told the EPA that Moms found glyphosate (Roundup) weedkiller in their breastmilk at levels 1600x higher than is allowed in Europe’s drinking water and 3000 X higher than has been shown to cause harm in animal studies. We also found glyphosate in our tap water and in our children’s urine.

Since then, numerous studies have shown harm from glyphosate, from causing harm to rat liver,kidneys and sex hormones, resulting in endocrine disruption ( deformities and miscarriage), to causing placental cell death and more. The World Health Organization, an arm of the UN, has even classified it a probable carcinogen. And the EPA has done nothing except say they will test breast milk for glyphosate (when?) And mandate restrictions (why?). 

We do not want “restrictions” on a toxic chemical sprayed on our food crops. We want a ban. We want the EPA to revoke the license of glyphosate Now. 

Numerous scientists and experts declare that NO amout of glyphosate exposure is safe. So allowing the use of glyphosate at all is only protecting the profits of the chemical companies, not our children and citzens.

On April 7 Tuesday, we ask everyone to call the EPA and tell Neil, the Director of the Pesticide Review Board, that we do not want just restrictions on glyphosate. We want the license revoked completely. No amount of harm to our babies, children and citizens is acceptable.
Today we ask you to make a call to the EPA and tell Neil we do Not want just a few restrictions pit on the use of glyphosate, we want his department  to revoke the the license of glyphoate. United we can make a difference…but we need Everyone! 
Please cal Neill now 703-308-8181.
Thank you!

 Zen Honeycutt