cover image Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science

Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science

Carey Gillam. Island, $30 (272p) ISBN 978-1-61091-832-9

Journalist Gillam exposes a plethora of scientific research, legal materials, and documentary evidence recovered from corporate and government resources to paint a damning picture of the peddling of glyphosate by Monsanto and other agribusinesses. Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's pesticide Roundup, is also the chemical that many of Monsanto's crops are genetically engineered to withstand. This practice has caused glyphosate to become the "most heavily used agricultural chemical in history." In March 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer at the World Health Organization ruled that glyphosate is "a probable human carcinogen" based on a review of multiple independent studies. Throughout this disquieting work, Gillam contrasts independent research that deems the chemical harmful with industry studies that call the pesticide safe—but that chemical companies refuse to share, declaring them "trade secrets." She also covers environmental problems with glyphosate, including pesticide-resistant weeds and soil degradation, and highlights instances where Monsanto provided financial contributions to researchers who then made favorable claims about pesticides, sometimes even using language supplied by Monsanto. "The global market for pesticides is valued at roughly $65 billion a year," Gillam notes, offering an explanation why Monsanto and other companies would partake in what she alleges is a pattern of deception and collusion that is as alarming as the dangerous science in which it engages. Gillam expertly covers a contentious front where corporate malfeasance intersects with issues of public health and ecology. (Oct.)