Agricultural groups challenge California weed-killer warning

A coalition of a dozen national and Midwestern agricultural groups sued on Wednesday to overturn a California decision that could force the popular weed-killer Roundup to carry warning labels that it can cause cancer.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Sacramento seeks an injunction barring the state from enforcing what the suit describes as a "false" and "misleading" warning.

It claims California's decision violates constitutional due-process and free-speech rights and should be superseded by federal regulations.

Roundup's main ingredient, glyphosate, is not restricted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and has been used widely since 1974 to kill weeds while leaving crops and other plants alive.

But the International Agency for Research on Cancer, based in Lyon, France, has classified it as a "probable human carcinogen." That prompted the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to add glyphosate this summer to a list of chemicals known to cause cancer. The listing could lead to a requirement for warning labels on the product.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the national wheat and corn growers associations, state agriculture and business organizations in Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota, and a regional group representing herbicide sellers in California, Arizona and Hawaii. The plaintiffs also include St. Louis-based Monsanto Co., which makes Roundup.

The lawsuit contends that California's "false warning" has harmed Monsanto's reputation and its investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in the herbicide and glyphosate-tolerant seeds.

The suit also alleges a ripple-effect on food production across the country. It says entities that process crops for food products sold in California would have to stop using glyphosate-treated crops, add warning labels that could diminish demand for their products or engage in costly tests to show that any glyphosate residue is at safe levels.

California's cancer warning "would result in higher food costs, crushing blows to state and agricultural economies and lost revenue up and down the entire supply chain," Gordon Stoner, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, said in a written statement.

Sam Delson, a spokesman for the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, said the agency hadn't yet reviewed the new filing but is confident its rules are legal.

In March, a California state court judge dismissed a separate lawsuit by Monsanto challenging California's cancer warning.

Midwestern states and interest groups also have challenged other California agricultural policies.

A federal appeals court panel ruled last year that six states—Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky and Iowa—lacked the legal right to challenge a California law barring the sale of eggs from chickens not raised in accordance with California's roomier cage-space requirements. The U.S. Supreme Court declined this year to hear an appeal.


Explore further

California clears hurdle for cancer warning label on Roundup

© 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Citation: Agricultural groups challenge California weed-killer warning (2017, November 15) retrieved 16 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-11-agricultural-groups-california-weed-killer.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
2 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Nov 16, 2017
Monsanto's investment in developing both glyphosate itself, and further, in developing the "roundup" brand, Has been recouped thousands of times over, by now, so this supposed injury is manifestly spurious.

How cynical it is for Monsanto to continue to manufacture, promote, and market a product that is well understood to be carcinogenic.

The fact that these grower's associations are involved is easy enough to figure out, too: on the one hand, they stand to lose money if people stop buying products that are treated with glyphosate --while under cultivation, during harvest, or post harvest(that's right), and on the other, because they are sponsored and partly funded by Monsanto.

A nasty, vicious cycle designed to keep Monsanto --and the rest of Big AG/CHEM-- the dominant players in World Agriculture, and hold them harmless for all the damage their products and the methods employed to produce them visit upon world and everything in it.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more