STACY MALKAN: Reuters vs. U.N. Cancer Agency: Are Corporate Ties Influencing Science Coverage?

Ever since it classified the world’s most widely used herbicide as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” a team of international scientists at the World Health Organization’s cancer research group have been under withering attack by the agrochemical industry and its surrogates.

In a front-page series titled “The Monsanto Papers,” the French news­paper Le Monde (6/1/17) described the attacks as “the pesticide giant’s war on science.” The newspaper reported, “To save glyphosate, the firm [Mon­santo] undertook to harm the United Nations agency against cancer by all means.”

One key weapon in industry’s arsenal has been the reporting of Kate Kelland, a veteran Reuters reporter based in London. With two industry-fed scoops and a special report, reinforced by her regular beat reporting, Kelland has aimed a torrent of critical reporting at the WHO’s Interna­tional Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), portraying the group and its scientists as out of touch and unethical, and leveling accusations about conflicts of interest and suppressed information in its decision-making.

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