Lobbyists are known for talking a big game, and none have that reputation more than the ones who work for embattled chemical company Monsanto. But what happens when a journalist asks one to put his money where his mouth is? Cringeworthy results.
Monsanto has recently made headlines once again when a World Health Organization report found that the ingredient glyphosate was likely posing considerable risk to people.
According to the Des Moines Register
The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said in a report Friday that glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic" to humans. The agency said the chemical, used in more than 750 products made by Monsanto and other companies, has been found in water, air and food during spraying. But WHO said use of the weed killer is often low in areas where most of the public would face the greatest risk of exposure.
In the United States, Monsanto seems intent to keep exposure low, despite insisting that it's harmless. In other countries, particularly in undeveloped countries with lax regulations, the herbicide is used liberally and the health effects are beginning to become extremely worrying. A recent study
found cases of cancer having doubled in a short time, just as the use of crop dusting and industrial-scale use of herbicides has skyrocketed. Sri Lankans have experienced similar problems. According to a study done by Rajarata University and the California State University, glyphosate was linked to a spike in kidney problems
, as well as a host of other ailments.
In the fallout, Monsanto has gone on the offensive, issuing press releases and rallying their army of well-paid lobbyists in the hopes of killing the story.
In a clip released in anticipation of an upcoming french documentary
about Monsanto, a flack hired by Monsanto to argue that the active ingredient in its Roundup weed killer products is harmless towards people is put on the spot. After towing the official line that Roundup is not raising the cancer rates in areas where it is used heavily, one such lobbyist Dr. Patrick Moore swore that Roundup was so safe that he would drink it and nothing would happen, leading to an amazing exchange between the interviewer and an increasingly frantic Moore.
"You can drink a whole quart of it and it won't hurt you."
"You want to drink some? We have some here."
"I'd be happy to, actually."
Within seconds of accepting, and perhaps realizing that the interviewer was dead serious, Moore has a crisis of conviction and backs away. "Not really," he demurs. "But I know it wouldn't hurt me."
The interviewer presses on. "If you say [it's safe], I have some."
"I'm not stupid," Moore answers.
According to Moore, people try to commit suicide with his products all the time but fail. (Not exactly a great sales pitch.) However, each time he is offered a glass of the "harmless" chemical, Moore panics. Sensing he is losing control of the narrative (and looking like a hypocrite), Moore gets angry and walks out of the interview, with a final comment that the interviewer was "a complete jerk."