A meta-analysis of glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the world and the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, found the chemical increases the risk of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41 percent in those with the highest exposure levels.1
“Overall, in accordance with evidence from experimental animal and mechanistic studies, our current meta-analysis of human epidemiological studies suggests a compelling link between exposures to GBHs [glyphosate-based herbicides] and increased risk for NHL [Non-Hodgkin lymphoma],” the researchers concluded.
It’s another nail in the coffin for the increasingly scrutinized chemical and just the latest of many to show a cancer link. Forbes, which has published many articles in defense of Monsanto’s products, then published a scathing review of the meta-analysis by Geoffrey Kabat.
It smeared the study’s authors and the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), made accusations of cherry-picked data and made a number of false statements — all while failing to disclose Kabat’s ties to the industry. In fact, it stated Kabat had no conflicts of interest — a blatant falsehood.
Forbes has since pulled the article, though it can still be found online at another industry-linked site2 — the burning question being, why?
Forbes Retracts Monsanto Article — But Why?
GMWatch, an independent organization that seeks to counter the enormous political power and propaganda of the GMO industry, published a play-by-play that seeks to explain why Forbes may have pulled Kabat’s article, and reportedly banned him as a future contributor.3
It’s speculatory, but they raise some valid points, starting with Kabat’s failure to disclose his industry connections:4
“A disclosure at the bottom of his attack on the new meta-analysis told Forbes readers: ‘I have no financial involvement with Monsanto/Bayer [Monsanto was taken over by Bayer in June 2018] or any other conflict of interest relating to this topic.’
However, that isn’t true. Kabat is on the board of advisors of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), a corporate front group funded by Monsanto. He is also a board member of Jon Entine’s Genetic Literacy Project, which was named in a court filing as receiving funding from Monsanto.”
Kabat, for the record, has previously been described as a “tobacco scientist” and has published studies funded by the tobacco industry. One of them went so far as to claim that secondhand tobacco smoke is not causally related to lung cancer and heart disease.5
In 2012, Forbes published another one of Kabat’s articles, this time trying to make the case that the landmark IARC decision to classify radiofrequency radiation as a Class 2B Possible Carcinogen overstated the risk.6 In his latest article, he attacked IARC again, suggesting that the agency basically thinks everything it investigates causes cancer.
Monsanto Article Attacks International Agency for Research on Cancer
Kabat attempts to smear IARC because the agency determined that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen” in 2015. He wrote that “Of the more than 500 agents that have been classified by IARC with respect to carcinogenicity, only one was judged by the Agency to be ‘probably not carcinogenic.'” But this was a misleading statement. According to GMWatch:7
“IARC has directly rebutted the suggestion that it concludes just about everything causes cancer. It points out that it only evaluates substances (‘agents’) where there are already grounds for suspecting that they cause cancer, and that despite this careful selection process, around half (502 of 1003) of its evaluations still resulted in agents being classified in Group 3 (‘not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans’).
Only 12 percent of all agents evaluated (120 of 1003) were classified in Group 1 (‘carcinogenic to humans’). A further 38 percent (380 agents) were placed in Group 2B (‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’) or 2A (‘probably carcinogenic to humans’). As IARC states, ‘This is far from the finding everything is carcinogenic.'”
Kabat also suggested IARC cherry-picked data to arrive at their glyphosate/cancer ruling, another falsity, which served to distract readers from the building momentum behind glyphosate’s carcinogenicity.
“In directing the focus onto IARC, Kabat is distracting us from what is supposed to be the focus of his article — the findings of the new meta-analysis showing a link between glyphosate and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma,” GMWatch states.8
Smear Campaigns Aimed at Investigative Journalist, Meta-Analysis Authors
Kabat even took aim at Carey Gillam, an investigative journalist and author of “Whitewash — The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science,” who has previously gone on record about how Monsanto tried to discredit her for writing critical pieces about the company and its toxic products.9
Then Monsanto vice president Scott Partridge, who now serves as general counsel and senior vice president for Bayer US LLC, has stated that “more than 800 scientific studies and reviews support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer.” But as noted by Gillam, few of those 800 studies are in fact done by unbiased and independent researchers.
“While there is no doubt that Monsanto and its supporters did their level best to get her sacked from her food and agriculture beat at Reuters, Gillam categorically denies that they succeeded.
And the only official comment Reuters ever made about the attacks on her reporting was to confirm that they stood by her coverage. Gillam certainly seems to be highly regarded by her former Reuters colleagues … Yet Kabat presents Gillam as a disgraced journalist who was given the boot.”
Not surprisingly, the meta-analysis authors were not spared from Kabat’s wrath. They, too, were accused of using “sleight of hand” and “lengthy obfuscatory discussions” in their work. But the paper’s authors are highly regarded. Some were even used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate glyphosate.
“Yet Kabat effectively paints them as fraudsters conspiring to deceive the public and their scientific peers about the safety of Monsanto’s best-selling product,” GMWatch adds. “That’s pretty rich coming from someone whose own paper was cited by a judge as ‘a prime example’ of how Big Tobacco ‘engaged in criminal racketeering and fraud.'”11
Judge Dismisses GMO Advocate’s Lawsuit Against New York Times
Kevin Folta — a plant scientist and professor at the University of Florida and an outspoken advocate of genetic engineering — sued The New York Times and journalist Eric Lipton for defamation for its 2015 article exposing his ties to Monsanto.12
Folta, who had vehemently denied ever receiving any money from Monsanto, was caught having been less than forthright about his connections to the company when his email correspondence was released in response to a freedom of information (FOIA) request by US Right to Know.13
In August 2015, Folta did in fact receive a $25,000 unrestricted grant from Monsanto, and Folta wrote back to a Monsanto executive saying, “I am grateful for this opportunity and promise a solid return on the investment.”
The New York Times posted a long list of emails between Folta and Monsanto, obtained through the FOIA request and was among the first to report Folta’s conflicts of interest. In his suit, Folta claimed his “academic reputation was unfairly tarnished, his health harmed and his personal safety jeopardized” by Lipton’s “scandalous” article.
In February 2019, a federal U.S. judge dismissed Folta’s lawsuit. Speaking to the Tallahassee Democrat, Mark Caramanica of the Thomas and LoCicero law firm that represented Lipton and the Times stated, “We are pleased with the Court’s decision. This is a case that should have never been brought, over an important story based on Dr. Folta’s own communications that shed light on public academics’ relationships with the food industry.”14
Forbes Fired Another Monsanto Shill in 2017
Perhaps Forbes was worried about more backlash stirred up by Kabat’s article, similar to what occurred in 2017, when it pulled articles written by Henry Miller from its site. Henry Miller was thoroughly outed as a Monsanto shill during the 2012 Proposition 37 GMO labeling campaign in California. Miller, falsely posing as a Stanford professor, promoted genetically engineered foods during this campaign.
In 2015, he published a paper in Forbes Magazine attacking the IARC’s findings after it classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. After it was revealed that Miller’s work was in fact ghostwritten by Monsanto, Forbes not only fired him, but also removed all of his work from its site.
It’s unclear what exactly drove Forbes to pull Kabat’s article, but as GMWatch stated, “After the embarrassment it suffered over the revelation that Monsanto had ghostwritten Henry Miller’s attack on IARC, one can well understand why the alarm bells would have been ringing in their editorial offices.”15
What Is Monsanto Trying to Hide?
Ultimately, the question of whether glyphosate causes cancer seems destined to transition to how much glyphosate causes cancer — in what doses and duration? In August 2018, jurors ruled Monsanto must pay $289 million in damages to DeWayne “Lee” Johnson, a former school groundskeeper who claimed the company’s herbicide Roundup caused his terminal cancer.16
The award was later slashed to $78 million,17 but it’s not an isolated case. Thousands of people across the U.S. have filed lawsuits alleging that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, and others containing the active ingredient glyphosate, caused them to develop cancer.
There are many routes of exposure to this likely carcinogen, including via your drinking water and diet. In testing done by Friends of the Earth (FOE), 100 percent of oat cereal samples tested positive for residues of glyphosate.18
The average level of glyphosate in cereal samples was 360 parts per billion (ppb), which FOE noted is more than twice the level set by Environmental Working Group (EWG) scientists for lifetime cancer risk in children. Some of the cereal samples contained residues as high as 931 ppb.
As it stands, nearly 300 million pounds of glyphosate are used in the U.S. each year,19 with unknown consequences to human health — but what we know so far doesn’t look good. What’s clear is that Monsanto continues to work very hard to suppress any and all negative publicity about its golden child glyphosate, even as the truth continues to emerge.
Now even Forbes appears to be bowing out of their game, at least as far as Kabat goes. But Gillam, quoted by GMWatch, raises a good point, which is smear campaigns and other attacks have no place — unless you have something to hide:20
“Monsanto has worked very hard for a very long time to suppress factual news stories that are unfavorable to its profit agenda. They have harassed numerous journalists, so I am not unique by any means. The question that all of this underscores is, ‘Why?’
Why, if Monsanto’s glyphosate herbicides are so very safe, do they need to ghostwrite scientific literature, put forward front men to carry their propaganda, try to censor independent scientists, and try to stop government toxicity testing of their products? If these products really are safe, there would be no need for them to do all that.”