Glyphosate, more commonly known as Roundup®, is the most widely used herbicide on the planet. It's also the central cash cow for the agrochemical giant Monsanto. Undeniably effective in controlling the growth of crop-destroying weeds, the chemical is also the main culprit in a series of suspected risks to humans, animals and the environment in general. The Monsanto Papers outlines these dangers, and the devious tactics employed by the company to evade responsibility.
"Farmers are junkies to this chemical," says one of the product's detractors whose wife has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He would come home at the end of a long way stinking of the weed repellent, and he now blames himself for passing on its severe health risks to his ailing wife.
Is Monsanto dealing in a chemical they know causes cancer? The fight for the truth involves a battle of wills between public safety advocates and the strong arm tactics of Big Agriculture.
In spite of a recent $200 million dollar verdict against the company, Monsanto representatives claim that over 800 scientific studies testify to the safety of their product. Most of the farmers they serve stand in defiant defense of the company; after all, their products are essential in maintaining their livelihoods.
But critics claim the company has ghostwritten or manipulated many of these "scientific" studies to favor their bottom line. Safety study numbers were doctored, flawed approaches were employed, and EPA recommendations were ignored and eventually reversed under pressure. False advertising targeted the most vulnerable consumers throughout the heartland of America in spite of being banned in other regions like New York.
These assertions are contained in The Monsanto Papers, thousands of discovery documents that were submitted to the courts as required by law. The film spends much of its running time examining the details in these documents, and it's complimented by informative interviews with environmental advocates, independent experts, and even a top-level representative from Monsanto.
Produced by ABC News Australia, the film portrays a potential health crisis that transcends the American landscape. The Monsanto Papers is a hard-hitting expose on corporate malpractices, but it's fair minded enough to include several voices of dissent.