EPA under investigation for possible collusion with Monsanto

Some research also suggests that it causes cancer in humans.

James Smith | Jun 09, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency's inspector-general, Arthur Elkins Jr., announced a probe this week into possible collusion between an agency staffer and the agricultural corporation Monsanto regarding glyphosate, a popular herbicide that Monsanto makes. Elkins initiated the investigation at the behest of Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who suspects that the staffer secretly agreed to bias agency research on glyphosate and whitewash evidence of its potential harms.

Glyphosate appears to be a leading cause of widespread deaths of bee colonies throughout the United States, according to a large body of peer-reviewed studies. Some research also suggests that it causes cancer in humans.

The chemical has sparked fierce debate among regulators and environmental scientists in both the European Union and North America, and the company was the target of a lawsuit in the United States in which the plaintiffs accused the company of spinning its own research to hide indications of the pesticide's carcinogenic effects from the public.

Rep. Lieu wrote to Elkins on May 31 of this year seeking the inspector-general's assistance in getting to the bottom of these allegations. Elkins agreed to take up Lieu's case.

"As you are aware, there is considerable public interest regarding allegations of such collusion," wrote Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins Jr. in his response to Lieu, dated May 31. "As a result, I have asked the EPA OIG Office of Investigations to conduct an inquiry into several agency review-related matters."

At the center of the inspector-general's newly launched investigation is Jess Rowland, previously a manager in the EPA's pesticide division. Documents now in the investigators' possession allege that in an April 2015 email, Rowland assured Monsanto officials that he could "kill" investigations into glyphosate.

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