Nathan Donley is a biologist turned science denier at the Center for Biological Diversity, a litigation group that raises money by suing government agencies and private companies and collecting massive settlements. Before taking on his current role as anti-chemical activist, Donley used statistics to create correlation between exposure to chemicals and cancer. Today he spends most of his time writing op-eds and blog posts accusing corporations of poisoning the planet and killing agricultural workers.
Monsanto Hides the Truth about Roundup?
Anti-corporate conspiracy theories are the foundation of the ongoing crusade against biotechnology, and Donley promotes these ideas with the enthusiasm of a 9/11 truther. Though he has scientific credentials, Donley has teamed up with anti-science activists Carey Gillam and Paul Thacker to claim that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, is carcinogenic despite the overwhelming consensus showing otherwise. He also alleges that the biotech firm colluded with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the Obama administration to “hide the truth” about the health risks posed by exposure to the weedkiller.
The scientific community has roundly rejected the possibility that glyphosate is carcinogenic; study after study confirms this conclusion. But scientists have attacked Donley specifically for unnecessarily scaring consumers and discarding science when it contradicts his ideology. They also point out that Donley’s claims about glyphosate are based on the questionable conclusions of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is under scrutiny by the U.S. Congress for possible scientific misconduct.
Donley’s Misplaced Faith in IARC
Rejecting the international expert consensus on glyphosate, IARC published a monograph in 2015 declaring that the herbicide is a probable human carcinogen. Evidence indicates that IARC excluded several large, well-designed studies which showed that glyphosate wasn’t carcinogenic. Moreover, two of the agency’s experts are testifying against Monsanto in a lawsuit alleging that Roundup caused cancer in thousands of agricultural workers. One of these experts, Dr. Christopher Portier, was paid $160,000 to serve as an expert consultant in the case – and got the contract before IARC had even published his results, which suggests he told the litigation firm that hired him what the results would be in advance.
As a result, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology says they have “…concerns regarding the scientific integrity of the IARC Monograph Programme.” Making no mention of these scandalous details, Donley absurdly calls IARC’s work “the gold standard in cancer research.”