Carey Gillam is the journalist who wrote the book Whitewash. She uncovered one of the most controversial stories in the history of food and agriculture. She exposed new evidence of corporate influence and fraud. Gillam introduces readers to farm families devastated by cancers, which they believe are caused by the chemical glyphosate. In addition, she introduces readers to scientists whose reputations have been smeared for publishing research that contradicted business interests. She documents the arm-twisting of regulators who signed off on the chemical while parroting company assurances of safety. They permitted higher and higher residues of the pesticide in our food and conveniently bypassed compliance tests.
Gillam writes, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has top authority over glyphosate, just as it does for other chemicals, but the agency has repeatedly discounted concerns about the chemical’s impact on people and the environment, relying on a helping hand from industry to guide its actions. We’ve seen the cozy relationship between Monsanto Company and regulators play out over and over. We saw it in the 1980s, when EPA officials reversed the findings of agency scientists who considered glyphosate to be a possible human carcinogen; when the EPA followed Monsanto’s lead in ignoring concerns about weed resistance until it was too late; when the EPA raised the legal tolerance levels for the amount of glyphosate that could be in our food even as cancer concerns were growing; and again in 2016, when the EPA rearranged its Scientific Advisory Panel on glyphosate at industry demand. And, of course, Monsanto’s connections to, and assistance from, the EPA’s top cancer assessment official, Jess Rowland, speak volumes about the strength of corporate influence within the agency.”
It isn’t just the EPA. Both the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) not only gave the green light but promoted the use of glyphosate-tolerant crops at the same time they refused to scrutinize what levels of residue the chemical had been leaving on our food. It was no surprise because former Monsanto vice president, Michael Taylor, sat at the helm of the FDA as deputy commissioner for foods.
One former EPA research scientists, Ramon Seidler (a microbiologist) stated, “These pesticide companies, they claim they are helping to feed the world. That is a bunch of garbage. They are just helping themselves sell more products, and those products are deadly. Glyphosate should be banned entirely, but the industry has brainwashed folks in key decision-making positions in Washington. That’s the way the system works.”
“Seidler says the fact that regulators rely on the chemical companies to run the safety testing of their own products is a fundamental problem but one that is deeply ingrained in the system. Everybody knows that it is not right. Industry should not be running the tests.” We have laws against driving under the influence of alcohol. We need laws against regulating public health under the influence of the very corporations peddling their products. Scientific testing prides itself on independence and non-bias. That does not happen at the EPA, USDA or FDA. They are industry promoters rather than watchdogs for the public. For more information on how federal agencies have become “a law unto themselves” see my book.
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