Ever since the World Health Organization (WHO) deemed Monsanto’s glyphosate — a key ingredient in its Roundup weed killer — to be “probably carcinogenic,” the agrochemical giant has fought back with a vengeance. After California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) attempted to add glyphosate to its list of cancer-causing chemicals last year, the corporation sued the organization. Now, after rounds of legal battle, the branch of California’s Environmental Protection Agency says it will add glyphosate to a list of chemicals “known to the state to cause cancer”
Proposition 65, covered by California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, requires state officials to publish a list of chemicals which pose harm to human health by means of causing birth defects, cancer or other reproductive harm. It is updated at least once a year and typically includes more than 800 chemicals. As USA Today reports, businesses that sell products with banned ingredients are required to inform California consumers of the risk.
As per Proposition 65, state officials were just doing their job by adding a chemical proven to cause birth defects, cancer, autism, ADHD, gluten intolerance, and a host of other ailments to the list. Fortunately, Monsanto lost its lawsuit against the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment last year. The company did file an appeal soon after, however – and this appeal’s ruling is still pending.
If the company wins the appeal, Monsanto products that contain glyphosate will not require labels saying they cause cancer. Listing the ingredient as a known carcinogen under California’s Proposition 65, however, would require companies that sell the chemical in California to add warning labels to all packaging.
Environmental groups cheered OEHHA’s decision to list glyphosate as cancer-causing. Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said: “California’s decision makes it the national leader in protecting people from cancer-causing pesticides.”