The Center for Biological Diversity sued the administration for public records detailing the U.S. government’s efforts on behalf of Bayer, the maker of the herbicide glyphosate, to convince Thailand last year to reverse its planned ban of the cancer-linked chemical.
The lawsuit comes after documents previously obtained by the Center revealed evidence that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. trade officials worked closely with the pesticide and processed-food industries to pressure Thailand into scuttling its ban on glyphosate, which the World Health Organization’s cancer-research arm has listedas a probable carcinogen.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday, seeks additional documents that administration officials have refused to release regarding their communications with representatives of Bayer and other corporations that stood to benefit from the reversal of the ban.
“It’s bad enough that this administration has ignored independent science to blindly support Bayer’s self-serving assertions of glyphosate’s safety,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center. “But to then act as Bayer’s agent to pressure other countries to adopt that position is outrageous.”
The earlier communications obtained by the Center through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal a coordinated effort between U.S. officials and powerful, multinational corporations to thwart actions abroad that might harm sales of their products.
Bayer and Archer Daniels Midland, a U.S.-based international commodities trader, were two of the companies working with federal officials to pressure Thailand to reverse its plan to ban glyphosate, according to the documents.
In October 2019 Thailand’s National Hazardous Substances Committee voted to ban glyphosate and two other highly controversial pesticides: chlorpyrifos and paraquat. But one month later — five days before the ban was to go into effect — Thailand suddenly reversed its decision on glyphosate.
Records reveal that the U.S. government got involved after Bayer appealed to the administration to intervene on two separate occasions in September and October 2019. Both appeals for intervention were forwarded to Ted McKinney, USDA undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, who previously worked for the pesticide company Dow Agrosciences for nearly 20 years.
Eight days after Bayer’s second request, McKinney sent an official letter to Thailand’s prime minister asking the country to reconsider its planned ban.