Monsanto’s popular weed killer, Roundup, is widely used in conventional farming. According to the LA Times, it’s applied to “more than 200 crops across 4 million acres in California, including 1.5 million acres of almonds.” If a federal agency were routinely testing for glyphosate, residues would likely be found on many of the foods lining grocery store shelves and produce departments today.
The California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an effort to protect human health has determined that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is a carcinogen. Beginning July 7, glyphosate will be added to the list of chemicals “known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects and other reproductive harm.”
The CA EPA does not have the authority to ban the use of glyphosate, but the agency will require a warning label on all products containing the chemical by next year.
Environmental groups cheered the decision. Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity told Reuters:
“California’s decision makes it the national leader in protecting people from cancer-causing pesticides.”
Monsanto vowed to continue its legal fight against the state calling the decision “unwarranted on the basis of science and the law.” Monsanto unsuccessfully tried to block the CA EPA’s intent to list glyphosate as a carcinogen under California’s Proposition 65 earlier this year. The agro-giant’s appeal is pending.
Monsanto is currently facing a class-action lawsuit brought by farmers and others who allege that they used Roundup and developed cancer. The plaintiffs introduced evidence in court alleging collusion between Monsanto and high-ranking officials in the U.S. EPA to keep the health risks a secret from the American public.
The CA EPA’s decision is in alignment with the World Health Organizations findings on glyphosate, but is in stark contrast with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. EPA has determined that glyphosate does not cause cancer.
Monsanto has repeatedly denied that Roundup causes cancer and has accused the the CA EPA of “cherry-picking” studies and ignoring mounds of evidence they claim shows that Roundup is safe.
Feature image courtesy of Mike Mozart on Flickr @Creative Commons