This morning, I ride the elevator up with several jury members. It’s funny, we haven’t interacted at all, but we have stared at one another for hours. I’m careful to just be friendly and discuss nothing, but can’t wait to share my blog with them post-trial. Pending on how the case ends up, some of them may want to join the Glyphosate Girl team.
SHORT TESTIMONY DESCRIPTION CHALLENGE
There is a lot of testimony today – Portier, Heydens, Jenkins and Goldstein. It’s a lot of detail. In case you don’t feel like reading the blow by blow below, I’ll give each testimony a sentence. For those of you who are also attending the trial, or have been following this Monsanto issue for some time, feel free to submit competing sentence summaries.
PORTIER – After delivering a champion-level testimonial, Portier confides that his motivation to fight against regulatory agencies stems from the blatant disregard paid to his life’s work of developing toxicological evaluation guidelines.
HEYDENS – The ringleader of the Monsanto ghostwriting scandal, Heydens struggles to prove that he doesn’t really know what the term “ghostwriting” really means.
JENKINS – As Monsanto’s liaison to US regulatory agencies, Jenkins appears to be more than mere acquaintances (no, not like that) with his counterparts at the EPA.
GOLDSTEIN – Well, you actually should go down and read that one, because this guy … well, wow.
TESTIMONIES IN MORE DETAIL
PLAINTIFF REDIRECT – PORTIER
A chipper Wisner asks Portier a series of closing questions that conveyed the following:
- Portier was not paid anything for his time working on IARC, submitting comments to EPA and EFSA, nor meeting with the EU to talk through science. He did these things because he spent his entire career working on the best ways to assess the toxicology of chemicals. Seeing all of these regulatory agencies throw the guidelines to the side makes him feel that his life’s effort was a waste, and it made him “a little angry.”
- Wisner asks Portier if he knows who from the EPA told EFSA about the virus (which turned out to not be true) in the Kumar mouse study. Portier says he doesn’t have first hand knowledge, so his knowledge is hearsay. Griffis calls: “Objection, hearsay.” Wisner laughs and says to Portier, “I love you man.” More on this “study that had to be killed” here.
- To clarify any confusion on Portier’s opinion of the Andreotti epidimiological study and the AHS, Portier restates that the study has serious flaws due to faulty imputation. Remember, this is the study in which a large amount of surveys were not returned from the original study group. Results therefore were “imputed” for the missing surveys, and this led to a highly unreliable conclusion.
MONSANTO RECROSS – PORTIER
The recross is not particularly interesting. Griffis proceeds to highlight that in the Andreotti study, there was not much data in the subcategory of NHL to justify any conclusions that glyphosate causes NHL.
VIDEO TESTIMONY OF DR. HEYDENS
The A/V team has all members on deck as they prepare to show Dr. Heydens’s deposition. These videos all appear to have the same backdrop reminiscent of elementary school pictures in the 1980s. It feels familiarly retro.
Dr. Heydens is the Chief of Regulatory Science at Monsanto. Dr. Heydens has an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences from Grand Valley State (1977) and a PhD in Toxicology from University of Michigan (1984). His specialty evolved to be in Regulatory Toxicology. The Regulatory Toxicologist makes sure that studies required by the regulatory agencies are conducted.
We weave through topics and Dr. Heydens’s blanket response is that he agrees with the EPA an EFSA that the science shows glyphosate to be non-carcinogenic.
As referenced in internal emails, Heydens and team planned in advance for the IARC classification of glyphosate as: “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Following the IARC announcement, Monsanto funded four “independent” expert panels to study and publish research on glyphosate exposure, animal carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, and epidemiology studies, as well as commentary on the IARC classification. A summary review of all four studies was also published in April of 2016.
In his testimony, Heydens says that he read but did not comment upon drafts of the four expert papers. Heydens admits that he did contribute text on the history of Roundup, as well as make some edits to the final paper.
In an internal Monsanto email discussing the strategy to publicly fight the IARC classification, Heydens writes:
If we went full-bore, involving experts from all the major areas (Epi, Tox, Genetox, MOA, Exposure – not sure who we’d get), we could be pushing $250K or maybe even more. A less expensive/more palatable approach might be to involve experts only for the areas of contention, epidemiology and possibly MOA (depending on what comes out of the IARC meeting), and we ghost-write the Exposure Tox & Genetox sections. An option would be to add Greim and Kier or Kirkland to have their names on the publication, but we would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and they would just edit & sign their names so to speak. Recall that is how we handled Williams Kroes & Munro, 2000. (2)
In his testimony, Heydens responds that he was merely in the process of evaluating possible strategies and that “ghostwriting” was a shorthand term. What is incredibly revealing in this email is Heydens’s clear admission of Monsanto ghostwriting the Williams paper in 2000.
The Plaintiff’s attorney asks Heydens’s opinion on the DeRoos 2003 study that revealed a doubling in risk of NHL from exposure to glyphosate.(3) The attorney emphasizes that the study was peer-reviewed.
Heydens states that just because the study was peer-reviewed doesn’t mean that it should be trusted. Plaintiff responds: “You mean someone could ghostwrite it, so we shouldn’t trust it?”
The jury starts furiously writing and we are smiling on our side of the aisle.
VIDEO TESTIMONY OF DANIEL JENKINS
A rather clean-cut-appearing Daniel Jenkins is presented to the jury on screen. Something is a little off with this testimony – not so much in what Jenkins says, but rather the quality of the questioning. I’m not sure who the attorney is who is questioning, but there are a lot of long pauses and a semi-confused tone of voice. The editing is also a bit choppy with some rough cuts between segments.
Putting that aside, Jenkins was the US Agency Lead for Monsanto, serving from 2010-2016 as the Monsanto liaison to the EPA, USDA, FDA and other US agencies. Jenkins says that he was primarily the communications guy who collected and provided Monsanto data to the agencies for regulatory purposes.
After an hour plus of testimony, we learn the following:
- Around the time of the IARC classification, the EPA said that they were going to take a look at what IARC looked at, and if Monsanto has additional information they would like to have it.
- The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is a federal public health agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The ATSDR announced in February of 2015 that it planned to publish its own toxicological review of glyphosate. That review was mysteriously halted and ATSDR ultimately deferred to the EPA’s opinion.
- Jess Rowland of the EPA, also the chair of the Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC) that wrote an official report on glyphosate, had a suspiciously close relationship with Monsanto. From testimony, we learn that there was communication between Jenkins and Rowland about ATSDR’s investigation into IARC’s findings. In fact, there is evidence of collusion to prevent ATSDR from pursuing its own investigation into the carcinogenicity of glyphosate. In an exchange between Jenkins and Rowland, Rowland says: “If I can kill this, I should get a medal.”
There is a great deal more on this topic of collusion between Monsanto and the EPA, but this testimony is a great start. I’m sure that Monsanto is making sure that copious evidence is excluded.
VIDEO TESTIMONY OF DR. DANIEL GOLDSTEIN
Alright everyone – Goldstein’s video depicts a fascinating case study of nonverbal cues. We have incredibly shifty eyes, blinking like a crazy person, fidgeting hands, touching of face, drinking water, taking glasses on and off. WOW – I don’t know how this guy behaves normally, but it is hard to imagine that his testimony is completely legit.
Dr. Goldstein is a medical doctor who has worked for Monsanto for twenty years. His job is to deal with complaints and consumer safety. Goldstein is also a clinical toxicologist. This guy is the one who should have identified and responded to Johnson’s calls to Monsanto following the development of a rash.
Goldstein argues that because of the scientific studies and regulatory classifications, there was no reason to think that Johnson might have NHL. He says that Johnson’s complaint of a full body rash more likely pointed to an allergy of some kind, and that without a full medical workup, he was in no position to medically advise Johnson. Tragically, he also says that he would not have told Johnson to stop spraying Roundup.
More tragically, Goldstein’s claim that he had no reason to believe that Roundup could cause NHL is absolutely false. As far back as 2000, Goldstein was aware of studies that showed that certain exposures might cause NHL.
Plaintiff attorney continues that in 2007, “you knew it was old news that DNA was damaged in cells.” Goldstein says no, the weight of evidence supports no genotoxic effect. Unfortunately for Goldstein, he is presented with an internal email chain from 2007 that highlights his reputation for having “extensive experience and information on this topic” of the glyphosate – NHL association.
WOW – this guy. I wish we could have had him in for live testimony! I would have popped popcorn.
Tomorrow, we will have live testimony from Dr. Nuget and then some more video testimony.
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