Last we checked in with one of our favorite monopolists, Monsanto, they were passing off research they had written as independent analysis and essentially colluding with an EPA official in order to make sure their cancer-linked product, Roundup, could be declared safe and stay on the market. Apparently, writing research papers on their products and then paying scientists to pass it off as independent analysis has been standard procedure for Monsanto. Now, however, it has taken to simply not allowing independent researchers study aspects of their new products and the result may already be a catastrophe for farmers.
According to the Huffington Post, as the growing season began to reach its peak this summer, farmers began noticing that many of their crops were simply withering away. Farmers are blaming a new Monsanto herbicide called XtendiMax for this phenomenon. Apparently XtendiMax may be drifting from areas where it is sprayed onto other fields where it was not intended to be used. Interestingly, Monsanto specifically refused to let independent researchers study whether the product had a tendency to vaporize and drift on to neighboring fields, essentially the herbicides volatility. According to Monsanto, the company's internal testing showed that XtendiMax was less volatile than its previous product and that allowing the independent research of its volatility was unnecessary because "This product needed to get into the hands of growers".
The EPA authorized the use of XtendiMax without any independent volatility testing, simply relying on Monsanto's internal studies. And individual states that asked for more detail about that Monsanto testing were stonewalled or given summaries of the results. In Arkansas, a Monsanto employee apparently testified to the Arkansas Plant Board’s Pesticide Committee that volatility testing was blocked by Monsanto because it feared the results would effect its EPA approval. Interestingly, BASF had also introduced a competing product that did allow volatility testing. Interestingly and perhaps relevantly, BASF had also introduced a competing product that did allow volatility testing.
Whether XtendiMaX is responsible for the now millions of acres of crop damage still needs to be clearly determined. Whether or not that is the case, it is frightening that Monsanto has now taken the step of forbidding independent researchers to study specific aspects of its chemical products.