EPA ruling on Roundup pesticides heavily swayed by Monsanto-backed studies
We have spent a lot of time looking into the safety and environmental health issues that can potentially be caused by synthetic turf. This is a pressing issue that deserves coverage but what about the flip side? Real grass may be natural and normal but in order to grow a lush beautiful lawn there are environmental and health -complications that can arise from the rampant use of water and fertilizers. Take for example this June, the Environmental Protection Agency concluded that glyphosate, the chemical used in Roundup, is not an endocrine disruptor.
But documents obtained by The Intercept through Freedom of Information Act requests, show that the majority of the evidence the EPA considered was funded by Monsanto, the chemical’s maker. Out of 32 studies, just five were independently funded, and the other 27 were funded by the industry.
All 27 of the industry-backed studies concluded that glyphosate does not cause endocrine disruption, although data within those studies might suggest otherwise. For example, one study found that rats exposed to glyphosate had pregnancy problems at a rate that is statistically significant, but nonetheless the paper concludes that the unsuccessful pregnancies were a random occurrence.
Out of the five independent studies considered by the EPA, three found that even small exposures of the chemical can cause harm to endocrine systems. And other independent research that was not considered by the EPA also finds the pesticide causes harm.
The fact that the sources of research funding can influence the outcome of studies, or in some cases just the interpretation of data even when findings are accurately presented, is a major issue. It’s disappointing that government agencies are so heavily reliant on research with such a clear conflict of interest, and glyphosate provides yet another example of pesticides receiving a dubious pass from the regulatory agents. However, the EPA has maintained that making manufacturers prove that their products are safe is a way to reduce costs for the cash-strapped agency.