Environmental Protection Agency Denies California’s Labelling Requirements for Popular Weed Killer

Published September 24, 2019

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it longer approves warning labels on products containing glyphosate—the main active ingredient in the weed killer Roundup—linking the chemical to cancer.

The move overrides California’s Proposition 65 law, passed in 2017, which required companies to label glyphosate products with the warning they “may cause cancer,” based on an International Agency on the Research for Cancer classification labeling the herbicide as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Based on its own research and testing and thousands of other peer-reviewed studies, EPA determined glyphosate does not pose a public health risk when used as directed and poses no credible risk of cancer.

EPA determined California’s labels would “constitute a false and misleading statement.” The agency no longer approves labels using the warning.

“We will not allow California’s flawed program to dictate federal policy,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a statement announcing the agency’s decision.

Thousands of Lawsuits

EPA’s August announcement is a win for Monsanto and its parent company, Bayer AG, which had suffered losses in three lawsuits in which plaintiffs’ attorneys convinced juries their clients’ cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer, were caused by their use of the pesticide, even though the judges in those cases questioned the science linking Roundup to cancer.

Juries have awarded plaintiffs billions of dollars in actual and punitive damages in these cases. The trial judges overseeing the lawsuits subsequently pared back those awards to hundreds of millions of dollars in total.

There are currently more than 13,000 similar cases pending in U.S. courts.

‘Safe and Noncarcinogenic’

EPA’s action is a positive development, especially after several “kangaroo court juries” awarded billions of dollars to plaintiffs who claimed they got cancer solely because of their exposure to Roundup, says Paul Driessen, a senior policy advisor with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.

“It appears the EPA is taking the refreshing, if almost unprecedented, step of insisting policies and warning labels must be based on solid science, rather than on corrupt, highly suspect studies in which the authors had major conflicts of interest, combined with carefully orchestrated media outrage and lawsuits staged by mass tort law firms, anti-chemical activist groups, and social media campaigners,” Driessen said. “Few chemicals have been studied as much as glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.

“In fact, more than 3,000 studies have been conducted by respected government agencies and research organizations worldwide, including Australia’s Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, the European Chemicals Agency, the European Food Safety Authority, Germany’s Institute for Risk Assessment, Health Canada, the U.S. EPA, and the U.S. National Cancer Institute, and each has found glyphosate is safe and noncarcinogenic” said Driessen. “Hopefully, EPA’s labeling action will serve as a wakeup call, advising trial judges and appellate courts it’s time to take a much closer look at these cancer lawsuits and start reining in these slick, fraudulent legal practices.”

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.

Internet Info

Joe Barnett, “Federal Judge Questions Claims Linking Pesticide to Cancer,” Environment & Climate News, April 13, 2018: https://heartland.org/news-opinion/news/judge-questions-claims-linking-pesticide-to-cancer