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Setting the record straight on false accusations: Dr C. Portier’s work on glyphosate and IARC

With a week left before an important vote on the re-licensing or not of glyphosate by EU Member States, the pesticides industry and its allies are waging a dirty battle. A leading environmental health and carcinogenity expert, Dr Christopher Portier, is being targeted by attacks aiming at undermining his reputation as a person, as a scientist, and, beyond him, that of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) whose March 2015 classification of glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen” is a major embarrassment for the agribusiness industry.

These attacks, based on an uncritical and selective quoting of a recently published deposition of Dr Portier by Monsanto’s lawyers, suggest he would have been paid by a US law firm to influence IARC’s evaluation of glyphosate, to lobby EU decision-makers on glyphosate, and that he failed to be transparent about it.

Double-checking the presentation of the facts by Monsanto’s lawyers, however, provides a much less scandalous story – and shows that most of these accusations are false and, combined with the many insults he is now receiving on social media, should rather be seen as outright attempts at character assassination. We completed our analysis1 with an interview of Dr Portier on 17 October 2017. Here are our main observations:
 

  • Dr Portier’s status in the IARC meeting was “invited specialist”: he was not allowed to draft text or emit recommendations that could influence the outcome of the meeting.
     
  • Dr Portier was indeed hired by a US law firm now suing Monsanto on behalf of alleged RoundUp victims. But he only received a first draft of the consultancy contract on 29 March 2015, 19 days after the end of the IARC meeting and the adoption of the conclusions. The contract was signed in early April 2015.
     
  • Dr Portier was free to reveal – and did reveal – the existence of the contract (which Corporate Europe Observatory saw) to third parties. The non-disclosure clause contained in the contract only applies to the work products bought by the firm to him, mainly scientific advice and reports.
     
  • Hardly any work was done by Dr Portier for the law firm in 2015 and little in 2016. More than 90 per cent of the total work performed and billed by Dr Portier to the law firm occurred in 2017, as part of his ongoing work as an expert witness.
     
  • The rate he has been charging the law firm for this, $450/hour, is standard in the US for such experts and on the lower end compared to other experts in the same lawsuit.
     
  • Dr Portier’s considerable scientific work on glyphosate in the US and the EU cannot have been paid by the law firm via this contract and, according to him, was not.
     
  • Before December 2015, when he first disclosed the contract’s existence to officials of the European Commission, Dr Portier did not do it as he was insufficiently aware of the need to do so. Similarly, he did not disclose it in May 2016 correspondence to EPA officials, as he thought the fact that doing this work in a personal capacity made the disclosure unecessary - at the same time, Dr Portier had made his interest public in a scientific journal in March 2016 and usually systematically disclosed it afterwards.
     
  • Being paid for consultancy work on a given issue definitely means having a financial interest: this has measurable consequences on a scientist’s position on this issue and should always be disclosed in a regulatory or scientific context. But as long as Dr Portier is not part of, or officially advising, a regulatory body at the same time, he is not in a situation of conflicting interests.
     
  • These events show that, again, industry and its allies don't hesitate to use insults, defamatory remarks and falsehoods to destroy a scientist's reputation when this person's work threatens their interests.

 

IARC’s classification of glyphosate and Dr Portier’s involvement

The IARC meeting on Monograph 12 (including glyphosate) ended on 10 March 2015. On 20 March, the meeting conclusions were published on IARC’s website and in The Lancet Oncology.

Because Dr Portier was at the time working two days a week for a US environment protection NGO (the Environmental Defense Fund), IARC informed him when they invited him to help with the Monograph 112 (Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate) that since he was in an apparent conflict of interest situation he would only be involved as an “invited specialist”2 and not as a member of the Working Group. As such, Dr Portier was not allowed to draft text or emit recommendations that could influence the conclusions of the Working Group.

Judging from the questions of Monsanto’s lawyers during Dr Portier’s hearing and other media reports, it appears that the pesticides industry and its allies are trying to push in the media a narrative according to which Portier would have unduly influenced IARC’s deliberations on glyphosate and particularly the evaluation of the animal evidence. This despite the fact that IARC’s Working Group conclusion to classify glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen (category 2A) was unanimous, and that Monsanto’s observer to the IARC meeting, Dr Thomas Sorahan, reported to Monsanto on 14 March that

“I found the Chair, sub-chairs and invited experts to be very friendly and prepared to respond to all comments I made. … In my opinion the meeting followed the IARC guidelines. Dr Kurt Straif, the Director of the Monographs programme, has an intimate knowledge of the IARC rules and insists these are followed.”
 

Dr Portier’s contract with the law firm Lundy, Lundy, Soileau & South

Around 26 March, by his own estimate, Dr Portier was contacted by the US law firm Lundy, Lundy, Soileau & South. He had been recommended by a third party to the law firm. Dr Portier declared to CEO that he made a mistake in his deposition and that his contracts with the Lundy Lundy law firm only started then. He also stated that he never had a contract with a law firm before. He also made clear in his deposition that he had no knowledge of the carcinogenicity evidence around glyphosate before the IARC meeting.

On 29 March 2015, Dr Portier received two draft consultancy contracts, one on glyphosate and another substance reviewed by IARC earlier (which he cannot disclose but says is not a pesticide and not even a chemical). The contracts themselves were signed a few days later, after Dr Portier consulted with his family.

According to his contract, which he shared with Corporate Europe Observatory, Dr Portier was hired by the law firm, “for the sole purpose of consulting with these Attorneys in connection with anticipated litigation involving claims arising from injury or damage caused, or potentially caused, by exposure to Roundup and/or other herbicides containing Glyphosate”. He was paid a US$5,000 retention fee at the signature of the contract.

The law firm, based in Louisiana, USA, is now one of several suing Monsanto on behalf of alleged victims of its glyphosate pesticide in the Roundup multidistrict litigation currently disputed in a US District Court in San Francisco. This lawsuit was initiated in the course of summer 2015 and is ongoing.

The consultancy contract on glyphosate and Roundup is also ongoing, and through Lundy, Lundy, Soileau & South, Dr Portier also provides consultancy services to the law firm Weitz & Luxenberg, also representing alleged victims of Roundup in the same mass tort lawsuit.

The second consultancy contract ended in 2015 and Dr Portier only billed a couple of hours of work for it to Lundy Lundy.
 

The non-disclosure clause in the contract

The contract contains a non-disclosure clause forbidding Dr Portier to disclose all the contract’s work products to third parties – but not at all, as has been written, the existence of the contract itself. This is a standard clause by which the law firm claims exclusive property on what Dr Portier is selling them. The clause, reproduced in part below, also stipulates that the law firm commits to not “fund, participate, sponsor of be involved in any of your past, present or future research or scientific studies” performed by Dr Portier.

2. All work conducted in connection with this Engagement as a consulting expert and/or a testifying expert witness pursuant to the direction, authority, and/or funding of the referenced Attorneys, including any reports, drafts, data, notes, work papers, correspondence, or other work documents you may generate or receive in connection with the Roundup Cases shall be considered and treated as confidential work product. All such documents and materials (and any information they contain that is not publicly available data or previously available to you) may be used only for purposes of this Engagement and may not be disclosed to anyone without our written consent in advance. This Engagement does not pertain to nor shall it affect your research and/or scientific studies, and it is expressly understood and acknowledged that we have not, nor will we fund, participate, sponsor or be involved in any of your past, present or future research or scientific studies.
 

Rate

The hourly rate obtained by Dr Portier in the contract is US$450. This appears to be a rather standard hourly rate for a toxicology expert witness in the State of Louisiana. As a point of comparison, other expert witnesses involved in the ‘Monsanto Papers’ court case charge more. For instance, Dennis Weisenburger is charging US$500 an hour to the law firm Andrus Wagstaff, while Chadi Nabhan is charging US$550 an hour to the law firm The Miller Firm.
 

Work products delivered and billed to the law firm by Dr Portier

In 2015, by his own account, Dr Portier would have billed less than US$2,000 to the law firm, for a meeting in San Francisco lasting a few hours where he was providing expert advice on a specific type of cancer and the IARC process. This was subtracted from the US$5,000 he received when signing the retention agreement.

In 2016, by his own account which is consistent with what is discussed in his deposition, Dr Portier would have billed less than US$12,000 to the law firm, in relation to a report drafted by the Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC) of the US Environment Protection Agency (this report appeared by ‘mistake’ on the US EPA website and was then removed). There is an error in the deposition’s transcript, as the text says “release from the Clark subgroup of EPA…”. The executive summary of this report is 4 pages long but the actual report is 87 pages long (which is consistent with the figure of 19 hours spent to analyse it). This is actually important because some of the attacks paint the 19 hours spent on this as hidden lobbying fees.

In 2017, by his own account, Dr Portier billed more than 90 per cent of his work to the law firm since the beginning of the contract:

Until February 2017, the work performed by Dr Portier was, according to him, strictly that of a scientific advisor. After this date, he also started working as an expert witness for the law firm in the context of the trial.

- His main deliverable is his expert report for the trial, which has just been made public. It is 250 pages long, involved the review of over 250 scientific documents, and in Dr Portier’s assessment took 6 weeks of work (239 hours), representing about US$108,000.

- He also undertook several meetings with the lawyers, with additional consultancy work.

In June 2017, according to Monsanto’s lawyers, the total sum invoiced by Dr Portier to the law firm amounts to about US$160,000.

At the time of writing this factsheet, Dr Portier still needs to bill additional work products to the law firm including his Rebuttal report to Monsanto’s experts and his deposition, amounting to another 60 hours or so of work (about $30,000). If he testifies in the court case, there are likely to be additional hours and compensation.
 

Disclosure of the contract

- Disclosure to EU decision-makers: A recurring reproach made to Dr Portier is his non-disclosure of his interest – the contract with the law firm – in a major open letter from late November 2015 (two weeks after EFSA’s assessment of glyphosate) to EU Health Commissioner Andriukaitis, which he coordinated and was co-signed by 96 scientists. The reproach is justified: even though Dr Portier had hardly performed any work for the law firm by then, the perspective of being remunerated for more work already existed: especially in such a politically charged context, the disclosure should have been made.

Dr Portier explained to Corporate Europe Observatory that he did not think it was necessary since he was acting as a private citizen and his general advocacy work on glyphosate was not paid for by the law firm.

That said, the disclosure was made almost immediately afterwards. Dr Portier explained both to Corporate Europe Observatory and in his deposition that he mentioned the existence of the contract to European Commission officials in early December 2015, a few days after the open letter was sent, when he requested a meeting with the European Commissioner for Health, Vitenis Andriukaitis, which eventually took place on 22 January 2016.

According to Dr Portier, officials of the European Commission mistakenly asked him to register to the lobbying transparency register, which he did on 21 December 2015, before cancelling their request as they realised he was acting as an independent academic and not as a lobbyist.

EFSA then answered to the open letter, and in the public response to this letter, made in a scientific journal by the open letter authors in March 2016, Dr Portier’s interest is disclosed.

From then on, Dr Portier did disclose this interest in the EU context, again recently in his letter to the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, and in his presentation to the special hearing organised on 11 October 2017 in the European Parliament on glyphosate and the Monsanto Papers.

- Disclosure to national decision-makers:

- On 28 September 2015, Dr Portier appeared in front of the German Bundestag for a hearing on the differences between IARC’s glyphosate assessment and that of the German Federal Institute for risk assessment, the BfR. From the deposition and the notes of the discussion it does not appear that the existence of the contract was disclosed – this is consistent with Dr Portier’s apparent insufficient awareness of the need for such disclosure at that time.

- The accusations of Dr Portier not disclosing his interest in May 2016 correspondence with EPA officials he knew from his past work as a government official can be dealt with similarly: as this work was not made on behalf of the law firm nor paid by it, Dr Portier did not see any reason to disclose it. But while this is true, disclosing his financial interest would have been more appropriate in this regulatory dispute context (even though Dr Portier had already disclosed his interest publicly in March 2016 he did not mention it in his correspondence).

On 4 October 2016, Dr Portier submitted comments to the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) prior to their 16 October 2016 SAP meeting on the Carcinogenic Potential of Glyphosate (which was eventually postponed to December 2016 following pressures of the pesticides industry). While the disclaimer at the beginning of Dr Portier’s comments states that these comments were written with his own resources and his own time, there is no mention of competing interests.

According to Dr Portier, this is because he was explicitely asked by an EPA official not to: “I disclosed [my contract] to the EPA staffer in charge of receiving comments for their SAP meeting and was informed I only needed to include this information if I was providing comments on behalf of the law firms (which I was not)”.
 

Accusations that Dr Portier’s scientific and advocacy work on glyphosate was paid for by the law firm

Dr Portier denies strongly these accusations: “I was in no way compensated for any of my letters, any of my public complaints to EPA or EFSA or BfR or EChA, any of my presentations on glyphosate in any forum. The comments I sent to EFSA, EChA, EPA were not done at the behest of the law firm, and in fact preceded the report I wrote as an expert witness in this one case”.

This is consistent with the clause of the contract where the law firm commits to not “fund, participate, sponsor or be involved in any of your past, present or future research or scientific studies”.

The weak point in Dr Portier’s argumentation, however, which is exploited by Monsanto’s lawyers, is that the knowledge created in the context of his analysis for the law firm belongs to him and can therefore be transferred to his other areas of work, including his presentations to regulators. Besides, being paid for this work creates a measurable bias. This is why, for instance, Corporate Europe Observatory has been recommending for a long time to the European Food Safety Authority to exclude scientists with consulting contracts with the food industry from its panels.

However, since he is not part of a public regulatory body nor applying to one, Dr Portier is not in a conflict of interests situation: he simply has acquired, with this contract, a financial interest in relation to glyphosate. Whether the US legal system, with law firms suing companies on behalf of victims as a business model, is a good one is an interesting debate, but a separate one.

Picture: European Parliament - Benoît Bourgeois - Joint ENVI/AGRI committee meeting.Hearing on the Monsanto papers and Glyphosate

  • 1. One reason we are writing this factsheet to defend Dr Portier is because he helped us a lot in our work. We have therefore analysed the accusations in great detail. He assessed the quality of the raw data we had obtained from EFSA, and performed an analysis of this data which revealed very important limitations in the EU agencies’ work on glyphosate. See: Scientist writes to Juncker: new tumour evidence found in confidential glyphosate data
  • 2. This is a special category of experts invited to help the members of the Working Group by answering the questions they would have (Portier is a biostatistician) but who are not allowed to contribute to the evaluation itself. This protects the integrity of the institution’s work.
    CEO has been recommending since 2013 to EFSA to adopt this approach for its Independence Policy (no real or apparent expert allowed on panels and all expertise gaps filled without endangering the integrity of the process by inviting such “invited specialists”).

Comments

Submitted by David Zaruk (not verified) on

Thank you for this very long defence of a scientist, who, by your own admission, was not transparent in his lobbying, lied and received money as a consultant from a law firm with an obvious interest and some seriously questionable ethics. It raises the question: What actually does CEO believe in? Some points.
You accuse me of cherry-picking in my blog (Yes Martin, you can use my name, I'm not afraid of what I had written), but then you cherry-pick from Dr Portier's consulting contract. Why not publish the entire contract? What are you trying to hide? Imagine if EFSA said they had a contract with Monsanto, and here is a little sliver of if! Would you simply say "OK, thanks" or would you demand to see the whole contract? Do you believe in transparency and full disclosure or only when it suits your bias and politics? This is about whether CEO has integrity.
You quote Dr Portier as confessing that he did not know he had to disclose a lucrative contract with a firm able to profit from his defence of IARC and you took him at his word. Do you seriously think that such an experienced regulatory scientist, working for decades at the highest level in so many American agencies and institutes, had no idea about what a conflict of interest is, or just plain forgot he had to declare 160K in consulting fees? Come on now! People who donate to CEO do so on the basis that they employ excellent researchers with critical minds - not people with double standards and no convictions. This is about whether CEO has integrity.
Portier's billing rate is 450 USD an hour and you try to justify that by showing how others get paid more. Do you take the same line when corporate lobbyists come in the room or do you play up the excess? What about when corporations pay scientists? Let me give you a good example. Professor Kevin Folta's university (not him, his university) received 25,000 USD (that was transparently disclosed) from Monsanto and for the last three years, you, people you employ and organisations you cooperate with, have been tearing Kevin apart, trying to destroy his life and using him as a poster boy of corporate collusion. If 25K transparently disclosed to help a university science communications programme is so bad, how can you possibly justify Portier's non-disclosed personal windfall of 200K. Will you now write an apology to Kevin? This is about whether CEO has integrity.
There are so many mistakes and omissions in this defence of the indefensible - you forgot to mention Portier's barefaced lie that he did not receive a single cent for work on glyphosate, how he assured IARC managers that he would handle EFSA and the BfR or his belief that he had no conflict of interest working for the Environmental Defense Fund. You admit that you published this article because "Portier has done so much for you".
So it comes down to this: What does CEO believe in? Is CEO about demanding openness, transparency and justice in the lobbying arena? Or: Is CEO about trying to hurt industry and lobby on environmental issues, and if that means siding with non-transparent liars, so be it? This is about whether CEO, its staff and its funders have integrity.
Thank you
David Zaruk
The (unpaid) Risk-Monger

Submitted by Martin Pigeon on

Dear David,

as you seem to take a lot of interest in me, and I wrote most of the blog above, I will answer to you in my own name. But unlike you, I am not going to insult anyone. I am simply going to stick to the facts and use this little conversation to provide a bit of context to our readers.

No, we do not say that Portier is a liar, you’re the one saying this. I’m also not particularly defending him: there are other things in this piece that you can use against him which you hadn’t seen before. I’m just trying to set the facts right against your character assassination piece.

Which confirms my opinion that you are not the most qualified person I could think of for a discussion on facts and integrity. You have published countless insults, falsehoods and lies about CEO, me and my colleagues in the past 10 years – actually I think we are among your most popular obsessions – and not once did you ever call us to check anything.

Now again, you just published another of your little hate stories, defaming a man without even trying to get in touch with him. As a result most of your blog is factually wrong. It’s a paranoid fairy tale, well-written and compelling, certainly music to the ears of all those who want to defend glyphosate these days. But there’s nothing solid in it for those who bother to double-check, as I did.

That Portier had a consultancy contract with these lawyers has been known since 2016. All in all there are only three new pieces of information in his deposition: the amounts involved, the starting date and the fact that, for an issue that important, he was too late in disclosing it. That was already something. You could have stayed there: as we wrote, financial interests should be disclosed in science or regulation, and Portier did not disclose his for several months.

But you obviously wanted a better story. Your story. In you words: “how the entire campaign against glyphosate has been built on greed and deceit.”

Now, that sounds grand, but what you are writing is not even a correct account of the documents you are quoting. You are now imploring me to publish Dr Portier’s consultancy contract. Why didn’t you at least try to ask him first? This document is not mine to publish. Ask him. Do the actual research you’re pretending to do, for once.

Of course you might not be very welcome. In previous blogs and social media posts (where you equally didn’t bother to check anything with him) you’ve called Dr Portier a liar (again in your comment above), a "little shit"

(well, you’ve also called me that), a "rat", a "slimeball" who "worms" his way… You say you are not being paid to be this de facto industry attack dog. That you just happen to be on mailing lists of the pesticides industry and intervening in industry events. This is rather cool: industry usually has to pay for trolls, no wonder they love you. You've intervened in speeches, usually on 'how to counter NGOs' (let me guess: attack, attack, attack, never mind the facts?) in events organised by the plastics industry, the pesticides industry,

the seeds industry,

the snacks industry,

and I don't doubt there are others. Well, of course they reimburse your expenses, but that’s normal practice after all.

It is a pity there is so much mythomania going on in your texts, David. One can always use a frank enemy, and criticism is healthy when made fairly and accurately. But you are so far from that. But perhaps this is not really what you are interested in? You are teaching corporate communications, after all, 'how to tell the right story', is that it?

The story you’ve crafted is a case in point. This is how you describe it: “Portier was paid $160K to attack glyphosate by lawyers suing Monsanto”.

But even in your own blog there is nothing to demonstrate that Portier was “paid to attack”. In fact, the opposite is true: as you correctly wrote yourself, “His role is to read documents and advise the lawyers on scientific matters as the two firms prepared lawsuits against Monsanto”. How do you jump from this to “he’s paid to attack?”

There is nothing in the deposition that would enable you to draw this conclusion that Portier was paid to lobby public decision-makers and regulators. He himself repeatedly denied it in the deposition. He also said that when I interviewed him, and his contract does not enable it. So, again, how do you jump? Could it be that you just pretend you have the proof, and after a few paragraphs you do as if you actually had the evidence of what you’re writing?

These are the conclusions of your blog. Most are false, sometimes even comically. Let me show you.

-> “During the same week that IARC had published its opinion on glyphosate’s carcinogenicity, Christopher Portier signed a lucrative contract to be a litigation consultant for two law firms preparing to sue Monsanto on behalf of glyphosate cancer victims.”

False: there are only seven days in a week, David. IARC’s opinion was published on 20 March, Portier signed the contract early April, the document is dated March 29. These were the informations you had. But you couldn’t resist writing “during the same week”: the story, the story!

-> “This contract has remunerated Portier for at least 160,000 USD (until June, 2017) for initial preparatory work as a litigation consultant (plus travel).”

Inaccurate. His work as a consultant earned him about $2,000 in 2015, $12,000 in 2016, and probably a little more in 2017. But the bulk of his remuneration came through his work as an expert witness and the redaction of his expert report, which started in February 2017. But of course, since you didn’t ask, you couldn’t have found out.

-> “This contract contained a confidentiality clause restricting Portier from transparently declaring this employment to others he comes in contact with.”

False. This is not what the confidentiality clause says. But this is what Monsanto’s lawyers probably would have liked you to believe (their quoting of the clause in the deposition is seriously misleading, kudos to the artists), and you just jumped.

I wrote in my blog that he should have disclosed the contract earlier than what he did. That’s at least one point you got right. Except that you didn’t quote the end of the deposition where Portier’s lawyer reminds him that his interest was disclosed in the March 2016 response to EFSA. You also forgot to quote the part where he explains he disclosed his contract to Andriukaitis first thing when he met him, early 2016. Perhaps you didn’t read these parts? The only disclosure you acknowledged was that of October 11, in the European Parliament. I suppose it made the story better.

-> “Further to that, Portier has even stated that he has not been paid a cent for work he’s done on glyphosate.”

Misleading/False quotation. Portier defends himself clearly in the deposition, but again you chose to not quote him. This is what he says:

“The work being referred to here was the analyses and evaluations and reading of the regulatory documents, for which nobody paid me.”

He also confirmed that to me when I interviewed him. By the way, in October 2016 he had been paid max $20,000, not $160,000 as you wrote (but ok, you didn’t bother to ask so you couldn’t know). He also had already and repeatedly disclosed publicly his consultancy contract, so him being paid for it was already known.

Here again, actually, you just took Monsanto’s lawyers by the word. If you had gone to the original article selectively quoted by Monsanto’s lawyers (again, kudos to the artists, they know their job), this is the quote and its context:

“Portier also addressed the criticism that because he works part time for the Environmental Defense Fund – and did at the time of the IARC review – that his involvement with the IARC monograph is somehow tainted.

“I work for them two days a week, mostly on air pollution and air pollution modeling, and on climate change and climate change modeling.” The work, he said, has “nothing to do with pesticides.

“Nobody has paid me a cent to do what I’m doing with glyphosate,” he said. “I have no conflict of interest whatsoever”.

Christopher Portier has submitted comments to EPA in advance of the SAP meeting, at which the scientists will consider the studies and methods used by EPA to conclude in a recent paper that glyphosate is not likely carcinogenic.”

Pay attention: before the quote he’s explaining how his work at the EDF doesn’t include pesticides, and afterwards he refers to his comments to the EPA. “What I’m doing with glyphosate” in this context can only refer to his advocacy work on glyphosate, for which he was not paid by the law firm and, actually, could not be paid because the contract does not allow it (all the work products must remain confidential and are the property of the firm, remember the confidentiality clause?).

-> “It became clear, in emails provided in the deposition, that Portier’s role in the ban-glyphosate movement was crucial. He promised in an email to IARC that he would protect their reputation, the monograph conclusion and handle the BfR and EFSA rejections of IARC’s findings.”

Portier’s work is undoubtedly important : you would never have paid attention to him otherwise. The point : he’s retired, so he has time, and he cares about public health because that’s what he’s been doing all his career. But you’re misreading: the email referenced in the deposition is not sent to IARC but to various scientists including members of the IARC Monograph Working Group. These scientists are external experts, not IARC staff. But what’s a fact against a good story?

-> “Portier admitted in the deposition that prior to the IARC glyphosate meetings, where he served as the only external expert adviser, he had never worked and had no experience with glyphosate.”

So much for your little story that he was on a mission to destroy glyphosate from the beginning, then.

I know, you want to say that he’s incompetent and that IARC are fools to hire him, and you like the idea so much that you don’t even see that it completely undermines your little conspiracy theory.

-> Your blog as also a nice little story going that these “class action lawyers” (well, actually it’s a mass tort, but again who cares for these details) “were planning a Monsanto litigation strategy before IARC had even held their glyphosate working group meeting”. Now this is a serious accusation, and I’m no fan of these big law firms’ business model either. It’s important for your story as well because that’s the only way you can feed into the perception that Portier was on a mission to influence IARC from the start (except that even then he couldn’t have because he was only an invited specialist, but well).

So, what do you propose as evidence? A press clipping which refers to… IARC’s evaluation. So obviously published afterwards. It cannot be it. Ah, you point to the fact that Portier says in the deposition he might have met with the Lundy firm two months before. Actually he told me this wasn’t true, but ok, I don’t have to believe him either and I cannot double-check this. But read the deposition: he says it was on another substance! What he told me is that Lundy got in touch on glyphosate around March 26.

So, basically, you have nothing. But your fertile imagination.

Now, to some of the questions you ask in your comment:

-> “Why not publish the entire contract? What are you trying to hide? Imagine if EFSA said they had a contract with Monsanto, and here is a little sliver of if! Would you simply say "OK, thanks" or would you demand to see the whole contract? Do you believe in transparency and full disclosure or only when it suits your bias and politics? This is about whether CEO has integrity.”

I’ve written above what I think about your judgment as far as integrity is concerned. Well, we’re all fighting for the things we miss the most aren’t we.

As far as transparency is concerned, it is a tool for accountability, not a moral value as you would like it to be. I’m glad you’re suddenly so interested in evidence. Here’s some more: EFSA is a regulatory agency with a very strong powers in public decision-making, Portier is a retired scientist with no official decision-making role whatsoever. Different powers, different transparency duties.

As I said earlier, go and ask Dr Portier for it. I have to warn you: the contract is short, banal, and it says what I wrote it said. Ok, I’ll be a nice guy: it also forbids Portier to have a conflict of interest during the litigation (which for the law firm means in particular working for another law firm in the same litigation).

-> “You quote Dr Portier as confessing that he did not know he had to disclose a lucrative contract with a firm able to profit from his defence of IARC and you took him at his word. Do you seriously think that such an experienced regulatory scientist, working for decades at the highest level in so many American agencies and institutes, had no idea about what a conflict of interest is, or just plain forgot he had to declare 160K in consulting fees?”

Ah, so Portier is an “experienced regulatory scientist” now, no longer a liar and a rat? Nice to read. If you had read my blog a bit more carefully you would not be asking this question: the time during which he did not disclose the contract (until December 2015 at the Commission, March 2016 publicly) was a time during which he only worked a couple of hours for the law firm, representing less than $2000. The other $158,000 were invoiced after he disclosed the existence of the contract.

Besides, you apparently do not understand, or want to understand, the difference between having an interest (being paid to work on a given topic) and having a conflict of interest (being in a situation of conflicting loyalties). Portier would have been in a COI situation if he had had official decision-making powers on the IARC's, EFSA’s, ECHA’s or the EPA’s glyphosate evaluations. But he had not.

-> “Portier's billing rate is 450 USD an hour and you try to justify that by showing how others get paid more.”

No, I’m showing he’s being paid a rather standard rate for the job.

-> “What about when corporations pay scientists?"

Well, usually that means that these scientists cannot publish all their results and that can be a problem. That’s what happened to Portier too, actually: because he is being paid by this law firm, he cannot publish the reports he does for them.

See also what we’re saying in the article on how to deal with consultancy contracts in a regulatory context.

-> "Let me give you a good example. Professor Kevin Folta's university (not him, his university) received 25,000 USD (that was transparently disclosed) from Monsanto and for the last three years, you, people you employ and organisations you cooperate with, have been tearing Kevin apart, trying to destroy his life and using him as a poster boy of corporate collusion. If 25K transparently disclosed to help a university science communications programme is so bad, how can you possibly justify Portier's non-disclosed personal windfall of 200K. Will you now write an apology to Kevin? This is about whether CEO has integrity.”

Dr Folta is an interesting character. We’ve written a few lines on him quoting Monsanto saying how pleased they were with his advocacy work, for a much smaller grant indeed.

But Dr Portier is not paid to do his advocacy, unlike Dr Folta, so the comparison doesn’t stand.

For the rest, look in the mirror David. Look at your publications. Look at the all the insults you’ve written and published on all these scientists whose work the pesticides industry didn’t like, all those you’ve called “activist scientists” and insulted over the years: Christopher Portier, Kate Guyton, David Goulson, Andreas Kortenkamp, Gérald Arnold, Gilles-Eric Séralini needless to say, Niels Skakkebæk, Jean-Marc Bonmatin, etc etc.

I imagine you find it very amusing to both insult people (well when Euractiv kicks you out of their website because of your defamations you like it less it seems) and claim the moral high ground, demanding apologies etc.

David, there is a real world, and real people, beyond your “dusty basement” and your little online games that you say you prefer playing while sipping wine (“I do my best writing on my second Merlot!” says the donate page of your blog).

And you’re causing a lot of harm to it. Directly when you insult individuals, and indirectly when you fight for the right of companies to keep polluting and poisoning people and destroying nature. At least, if you were paid to do it, you would have an excuse.

Now, I’ve been way too long. Congratulations: you have managed to make me waste quite some time. I suppose you will want to answer to this comment. Feel free to do so. I might not respond quickly, but I will respond at some point.

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