WHITEWASH by Carey  Gillam


The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science
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Uncovering corporate malfeasance at “perhaps the world’s best-known agricultural powerhouse.”

Former Reuters senior correspondent Gillam shows how Monsanto has suppressed indications that its popular weed killer Roundup, “the most widely used herbicide in the world,” has been found to trigger endocrine disruptions “linked to some cancers, birth defects, and developmental problems in children.” Two decades ago, the author was covering finance and real estate when she was switched to the agriculture beat. She admits to being disappointed at first, even though the choices farmers make amount to “billions of dollars in combined sales of seeds and herbicide” for corporations like Monsanto, which also markets genetically modified seeds able to withstand glyphosate, the major chemical component in Roundup. In the author’s well-informed opinion, Monsanto has hit upon a brilliant marketing strategy in showing how farmers can kill weeds without endangering the survival of their genetically modified crops. The widespread use of Roundup on farms, golf courses, and lawns reaches into every corner of our lives, and this is reflected in Monsanto’s balance sheet. However, as Gillam notes, the human health costs have yet to be determined. The Environmental Protection Agency has set the level of legally allowed residues higher than those considered acceptable in any other country, and it has failed to mandate across-the-board testing for residues on food. For example, tests of some “organic” honey revealed toxin levels five times the legal limit allowed by the European Union. As the author relates, some studies have concluded that the evidence of glyphosate’s toxicity is mixed regarding humans but definitive with animals. In this hard-hitting, eye-opening narrative, Gillam calls for widespread reform of the American regulatory system, which would mandate that the Department of Agriculture conduct routine tests of food products for glyphosate residues and release the results for public scrutiny.

A forceful argument for an agricultural regulatory environment that puts public interest above corporate profits.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-61091-832-9
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Island Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2017


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