Several agriculture groups from across the country are challenging the constitutionality of California’s unjustified listing of the herbicide glyphosate as a substance “known to the state of California to cause cancer” under Proposition 65 (Prop 65). This case was filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
Because of California’s unjustified listing of glyphosate in July 2017, manufacturers of products containing glyphosate, or products with even trace residues of glyphosate, sold in California could be required to affix a false and misleading warning label to their products starting in 2018. This labeling requirement would not only impact Monsanto and its Roundup-branded products, but also other glyphosate-based herbicides produced by other companies, the crops grown by U.S. farmers who use the herbicide, and food products derived from those crops. The consequences of this labeling requirement could be significant, including higher production and compliance costs that translate into higher prices for consumers at the grocery store.
“Monsanto is pleased to stand today with leading farmer organizations from across the nation to challenge the constitutionality of California’s unjustified and harmful Proposition 65 listing of glyphosate,” said Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy. “Glyphosate is a safe, environmentally sustainable and cost-effective tool for farmers. This labeling requirement would do nothing more than compel false warnings about a safe product and unnecessarily increase food prices for consumers.”
Leading the farmers’ coalition are the National Association of Wheat Growers, the National Corn Growers Association, Associated Industries of Missouri, Iowa Soybean Association, Agribusiness Association of Iowa, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Missouri Farm Bureau, North Dakota Grain Growers Association, South Dakota Agri-Business Association, and the United States Durum Growers Association and Western Plant Health Association.
In July 2017, California added glyphosate to the Prop 65 list, stating that the substance is “known to the state of California to cause cancer.” In taking this unjustified action, California ignored its own regulatory agency’s scientific conclusions, as well as safety assessments conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), European regulators, and every other regulatory body in the world – all of which have concluded that glyphosate is safe for use and not carcinogenic. This was reinforced just last week when the largest epidemiological study ever conducted on glyphosate and farmers published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, concluding there is no link between glyphosate and any form of cancer.
California’s unjustified listing was based solely on a highly controversial and deeply flawed 2015 opinion by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Recent investigations have shown that IARC members concealed and manipulated data that would have undermined IARC’s opinion. IARC’s flawed opinion and non-transparent process have come under investigation by the U.S. Congress.
Listing glyphosate under Prop 65 violates the First Amendment, which protects individuals and businesses from compelled false speech. Under the unjustified Prop 65 listing, glyphosate manufacturers and distributors, agricultural producers and food companies could be compelled to label their products with a warning known to them and to the scientific community to be false. Compelling such warnings that are not “purely factual and uncontroversial” cannot be justified under First Amendment case law.
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