GUTTED BY MONSANTO
While attending a work conference in Las Vegas this last weekend, I was slipped some gluten at dinner in Caesar’s Palace. Feeling wrecked from cross-contamination on my spaghetti bolegnese just seems unfair in light of preferred ways to get wrecked in Vegas. The combination of extremely debilitating gluten intolerance issues and casino gaming gave me an idea that only readers of my blog would find entertaining.
Welcome to the game Three Degrees of Separation to Roundup. Read the scenario on the left-hand column, and see if you can connect it with glyphosate. Good luck!
I have some trial tidbits from the final pre-trial hearing on February 13th. Remember, the trial begins on Monday, February 25th. The blow-by-blows aren’t particularly entertaining, though a long list of issues were debated. Chhabria has yet to make final decisions on many of the points, so I won’t belabor them. Note that I left an hour before the end of the hearing, racing back down the peninsula to return my hair back to blonde after a stint as a medium brunette. That said, I don’t believe I missed anything huge.
Chhabria expresses his tentative view on Plaintiff’s specific causation experts. The experts in the trial are divided into general causation experts and specific causation experts. General causation addresses whether a substance is capable of causing a particular injury or condition, while specific causation addresses whether a particular substance caused a specific individual’s injury. Chhabria says that while he considers the Plaintiff’s specific causation expert opinions to be of pretty low quality, he doesn’t find them so out of range as to exclude them.
Monsanto compiled an impressive slide deck to run through, cleanly presenting all of the issues with the experts to which they object. Heated discussion ensues about whether an idiopathic (or unknown) cause of NHL has been adequately considered by the experts. You may recall a similar argument presented by Mr. Lombardi in the Johnson trial when trying to discredit Dr. Nabhan’s differential diagnosis.
After Monsanto raises a question as to whether a Plaintiff expert plagiarized some of his expert report, Chhabria shuts down that claim. Chhabria explains the way expert reports work. Typically, the lawyer writes the first draft of the expert report and then the expert reviews it, trading it back and forth with changes. In that respect, every expert report is plagiarized. This claim of lawyers writing the reports has been denied by several expert witnesses in this trial, so perhaps Chhabria’s words weren’t particularly accurate.
We take a brief break, and upon return Brent Wisner presents the freshly published meta-analysis: Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence. The paper found that in individuals who were highly exposed to glyphosate-based herbicides, the overall risk of developing Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma increased by 41%.
Three of the authors sat on the EPA Scientific Advisory Panel in the 2016 assessment of glyphosate, which is noteworthy given that their findings in the paper contradict the EPA’s classification of glyphosate as non-carcinogenic.
Monsanto quickly responds to Wisner’s presentation of the new study. Not only does the Monsanto team find methodological flaws in the study, but they also accuse Plaintiff counsel of having suspiciously early access to the paper. The paper was published online on February 10th, but was used by the Plaintiff in deposition a week earlier in the Pilliod case in Oakland.
Monsanto requests to investigate if Dr. Portier or anyone else on the Plaintiff team had communications with the authors. Wisner explains that they got a copy of the study early through expert witness Charles Benbrook. Three of Benbrook’s glyphosate studies are cited in the paper, so he received a copy early for review.
Monsanto’s hypocrisy when questioning study release times is astounding. Well, not really astounding – it is Monsanto. They have a track record of suspicious timing, as key pieces of evidence mysteriously surfaced at opportune times for the various Roundup lawsuits. Monsanto’s famous AHS study was conveniently released online on November 9, 2017, the same day as key pre-Daubert trial hearings, and was successfully used by Monsanto attorneys to delay the hearings by three months. The study wasn’t ultimately published until May 1, 2018.
In a similar incident, EPA officials who had close ties with Monsanto “accidentally” leaked a report online from the EPA Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC) that supported non-carcinogenicity of glyphosate. The leak of the report in April 2016 was timed well for a Monsanto court hearing. Read more from Carey Gillam on this topic.
Final Trial Notes
- Wisner works hard to argue for equal treatment of IARC and EPA in the trial so as not to mislead the jury. Chhabria seems to lean towards permitting Monsanto to share that the EPA says glyphosate doesn’t cause cancer, but not allow any discussion of whether the EPA guidelines were followed in reaching that conclusion. Of course, there are also the insanely corrupt episodes behind the scenes of the EPA decision, but those can’t be presented until Phase 2. Chhabria will finalize a jury instruction on the matter.
- Chhabria believes that courts have been erroneously operating under the assumption that IARC classification is enough to conclude that something causes cancer.
- In the midst of Wisner arguing these In Limine points of contention, Chhabria halts and says: “I thought you weren’t doing this trial.” Indeed, Wisner won’t be lead counsel on this trial, but is still extremely involved in the MDL. He is also on his way to Australia to do a direct examination of Dr. Portier on video.
- Chhabria stresses that Prop 65 is not coming into the trial. Apparently, there is a holding room on the 20th floor, which he has threatened to send attorneys who bring up Prop 65. Both funny and frustrating.
OTHER GLYPHOSATE NEWS THIS WEEK
- Hallelujah, rejoice! I’ve been wondering when a lawsuit on Roundup’s damage to the gut biome would materialize. Bloomberg reports: “Bayer faces a new claim that it deceived home gardeners about Roundup’s impact on their gut bacteria and their health. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City, Missouri, claims that labels on products such as Roundup’s Weed & Grass Killer falsely assured consumers that they target an enzyme not found ‘in people or pets.'” Read the article here.
- A recent study shows that eating exclusively organic food proves to dramatically lower pesticide levels in urine in just one week. Thank goodness there IS a promising road out of this pesticide, herbicide, GMO-driven health mess. Read the study here.
- To stem the global insect collapse, buy organic and be mindful of chemical use in home gardening! The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems.” Read the article here.
Listed on the Monsanto careers website, this Monsanto internship is with the Global Production Research Team:
We are seeking a highly motivated, independent, self-motivated, highly analytical and communicative person to fill the intern position in Seed Technology and Sanitation Research department. The individual will work very closely with our Seed technology and Sanitation scientists and our operational team to execute and evaluate multidisciplinary research experiments. This is a great opportunity to work with leading edge technology and talented cross functional scientists seeking to deliver the very best vegetable seed technologies.We plan to train the student on:
- Optimizing experimental design
- Conducting lab trials
- Analyzing phenotyping data sets
- Executing literature study
- Database mining
GG Sidebar: The irony of learning to “conduct lab trials” and “analyze” data sets under the crooked hands of Monsanto. I can imagine what types of shenanigans could take place in the optimization of experimental design category.
A fabulous special guest will be writing the next two entries to give you a peek into the jury selection. Stay tuned this week!
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