Biologist who was fired after opposing glyphosate forestry use gets day in court

by Carey Gillam

It’s been nearly three years since Canadian wildlife biologist Rod Cumberland was fired from a teaching role after expressing concerns about the use of the chemical glyphosate in New Brunswick forests and the impacts on the deer population.

At the time, the Maritime College of Forest Technology gave various reasons for dismissing Cumberland in June 2019, but denies his worries about glyphosate were among the reasons.

Today, his lawsuit alleging wrongful termination goes to trial. And with the public hearing comes a public spotlight on a slew of emails that show Cumberland’s views and statements on glyphosate were in fact an issue for the college.

According to Canada’s CBC News, Cumberland’s glyphosate views were the subject of multiple communications between the college, the government agency Natural Resources Canada and J.D. Irving Ltd, which owns and manages millions of acres of forest land.

Glyphosate is the chief ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and other herbicide brands, and is the most widely used herbicide in the world. It has been linked to an array of human and environmental health problems, and several localities and some countries have moved to ban its use.

Cumberland is but one of many scientists who have come under fire for raising concerns about glyphosate, which has been on the market since 1974. Notably, the emails add to a trove of communications that have come to light through litigation and public records requests that underscore alignment between industry and government in support of glyphosate use.

Cumberland is seeking both actual and punitive damages and is asking to be reinstated as a professor at the college.

For more details on the emails and Cumberland’s fight, see the CBC story.