Did the European Food Standards Agency Lie on its Glyphosate Cancer Report?

11th July 2017 / Global
Did the European Food Standards Agency Lie on its Glyphosate Cancer Report?

By Corporate Europe Observatory: Did EFSA lie to the press on its glyphosate assessmentJess Rowlands, a US expert exposed in the “Monsanto Papers” in a possible collusion with Monsanto, intervened in EFSA’s glyphosate assessment, providing information which comforted EFSA in its decision to discard the conclusions of a key study showing cancer in mice exposed to glyphosate. Following the revelation, EFSA told the press and civil society that it had double-checked Rowlands’ information. But when requested by CEO to prove it had actually performed these double-checks, EFSA had nothing to show.


The 2001 Kumar study was the only one that the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) acknowledged showed “a statistically significant increased incidence of malignant lymphoma” in mice exposed to glyphosate. Rowlands argued that these mice had suffered from a viral infection, and EFSA used this argument, among others, to explain why it had refused to take the study’s findings into account, enabling it to say that glyphosate was “unlikely” to cause cancer in humans.

In its response to questions by the press and NGOs, EFSA confirmed Mr. Rowlands’ intervention but also explained that “The information Mr. Rowland provided at the expert consultation in September 2015 merely served to provide additional explanations for the inconsistent results of Kumar (2001) study, which were checked and confirmed after the teleconference by EFSA experts“.

To check the reality of these additional verifications, we introduced a public access to documents request to EFSA, requesting “all documents, such as correspondence (including emails), briefings or meeting minutes, which relate to or contain the above-mentioned checks and confirmations by EFSA experts of the information provided by Mr. Rowland, following the teleconference (so between September 2015 and November 12 2015 [publication date of EFSA’s final conclusions on glyphosate])“.

After extending the deadline, EFSA finally responded. With nothing to show:

EFSA is not in the possession of any other documents (correspondence, briefings or meeting minutes) falling within the scope of your access request, besides the TC 117 meeting minutes available on-line. […] a presumption of legality is attached to a statement made by an Institution concerning the non-existence of documents requested“.

Asked why they were unable to show any evidence for their checks into Rowlands’ allegations, EFSA emailed back to CEO that “There is no particular reason why additional written documents (beyond the information already published on our website) do not exist, nor is there anything particular to infer from this.

So, EFSA pretends in a public statement to the press and the public that they double-checked the “additional explanations” of a very controversial expert, fails to shows any evidence for it when asked to, and pretends that there isn’t “anything particular to infer from this“.

Really? How about:

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– If EFSA did perform these additional verifications, its response means that either it did so without writing anything anywhere, or that it refuses to disclose its evidence on the matter, in breach of EU’s Regulation 1049/2001 on access to documents.

– If EFSA did not perform these additional verifications, its response means that it lied to the press and the public by pretending it performed double-checks it didn’t perform.

Which is it? Illegal/careless behaviour or lies?

To double-check, we also sent an access to documents to EFSA to obtain its correspondence with Rowlands. EFSA denied our request on the ground that the documents at stake contained personal data. We will now appeal this refusal.



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