Monsanto PR

By Anastasia Hendricks


The document I found does not have an explicit title, and seems to be part of a larger document. It is sourced to Monsanto and is written in a question-and-answer format -- likely an FAQ drafted by Monsanto, addressing clients and the general public. It begins with the question "do PCBs cause cancer?" and runs through several questions related to the potential harms of PCBs to humans and the environment, the research conducted on PCBs, what Monsanto supposedly knew and did not know, and Monsanto's actions to eliminate the use of PCBs.

The document's estimated date is 1963, but given there are dates referring to Monsanto's cease of PCB use in 1977, and the litigation was facing at the time of the document's writing, I would likely date it in the 1980s. Considering that this document appears intended for public release, rather than an internal document, it must be taken with a grain of salt, and, indeed, it tends to downplay the risks of PCBs and emphasize the ambiguity of PCB-related research, and center its compliance with the EPA and FDA. Monsanto also mentions that its animal studies on PCBs were used by the FDA to set "safe" thresholds of PCBs. Not exactly a reassuring thought, and I have some concerns about conflicts of interest here. Monsanto continues to write of its lack of knowledge about the harms of PCBs until the 1960s. This claim has been disputed and was at the center of multiple lawsuits that ensued in the 1990s. Going forward, I would like to assess the truth of this claim, and the fate of these lawsuits. From a precursory search it seems that some were settled, while Monsanto won others, and although this seems to imply that Monsanto did not know the risks of PCBs before the general scientific community, this is not necessarily the case (especially concerning the settlements).