The California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an effort to protect human health has determined that the active ingredient in Monsanto’s popular weed killer, 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.”
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 has repeatedly denied that Roundup causes cancer and has accused the CA EPA of “cherry-picking” studies and ignoring mounds of evidence they claim shows that Roundup is safe.
Monsanto unsuccessfully tried to blockthe CA EPA’s intent to list glyphosate as a carcinogen under California’s Proposition 65 earlier this year. The agro-chemical giant is appealing the decision, which it claims is “unwarranted on the basis of science and the law.”
Roundup is sprayed in residential neighborhoods, local, state, and national parks as wells as along roads and highways. It’s also 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 (the FDA suspended its limiting testing earlier this year and started again in June, but the results have not been made public), residues would likely be found on many of the foods lining grocery store shelves and in produce departments today. Some of those residuesmight be beyond safe levels.
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.
The CA EPA’s decision was based partly on the World Health Organizations findings that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, however, has determined that glyphosate is safe.
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 collusionbetween Monsanto and high-ranking officials in the U.S. EPA to keep the health risks a secret from the American public.