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Emails Show Monsanto Knew Popular Weed Killer Was Dangerous

There’s more to the story about Monsanto and the dangers of glyphosate. The maker of the weed killer Roundup is accused of paying a front group to bury scientific evidence showing the product causes cancer, according to court documents.

Emails between Monsanto and the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) were made public last July during the trial of a California groundskeeper who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Dewayne “Lee” Johnson was awarded $289 million in damages. That amount was later reduced to $78 million by a judge in the case.

The emails resurfaced this month in the case of a California couple who were awarded $2 billion when a jury found the same herbicide caused their non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Alva and Alberta Pilliod’s case was the third verdict to come in less than a year where glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, was found to cause cancer. Monsanto was charged in each case with covering up evidence of its health risk for a number of decades.

Monsanto was purchased by Bayer for $63 billion and is facing tens of thousands of suits that could cost the company billions of dollars in the end.

The emails (below) show that Monsanto was working with ACSH in February of 2015 to prepare for the consumer fallout upon the release of a report on the safety of glyphosate by World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The report, that “classified glyphosate as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans,'” was released in March of that year.

ACSH claims to be a “consumer advocacy organization,” but a 2013 Mother Jones article reports that ACSH received more than $390,000 in from corporations and large private foundations including $30,000 from Bayer Cropscience, $22,5000 from a Chinese-owned pesticide company known as Syngenta and $30,000 from chemical giant 3M. These are among the among many others Mother Jones found in an internal ACSH document.

We will continue to keep you abreast of this story as news unfolds.

If you believe that what is alleged in the Roundup class action has affected you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d be happy to help you take a step in the right direction, fight this issue, and better enable you to join the consumer class action. If interested, please send an email to, find us on Twitter, FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, or even connect with us directly on our website! We look forward to hearing from all of you.

About the Author: Aisha K. Staggers is a writer, lecturer, political analyst and literary agent. She appears weekly for “Staggers State of Things” on the Dr. Vibe Show. Her work has been published by Paper Magazine, AfroPunk, The Spool, GREY Journal, MTV News, HuffPost, Blavity, Atlanta Blackstar, For Harriet, New York Review of Books and a host of other first-run publications and syndicated outlets. Find her on Twitter @AishaStaggers. For more of her work, check out her page here!

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