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Center for Food Safety Moves to Defend California From Monsanto Attack

March 02, 2016
Center for Food Safety

Intervention sought in Monsanto lawsuit challenging the listing of Roundup pesticide as cancer-causing

Center for Food Safety (CFS) today filed a legal motion to intervene in Monsanto corporation’s litigation challenging the listing of the chemical glyphosate as a probable carcinogen under California’s Proposition 65. Monsanto filed the lawsuit against California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), seeking to reverse OEHHA’s 2015 announcement of its intent to list glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, under Proposition 65’s List of Chemicals that are “known to the state of California to cause cancer.” Proposition 65 requires notification and labeling of all chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and prohibits their discharge into drinking waters of the state. CFS seeks to intervene in order to defend the listing of glyphosate under Proposition 65 and protect the public’s right to know when it is being exposed to cancer-causing chemicals.

“Proposition 65 is a remarkably effective law that protects all of us from unnecessary and unwanted exposure to dangerous chemicals like glyphosate,” said Adam Keats, senior attorney at CFS. “CFS has long been ringing the alarm bells of the dangers of glyphosate, and we are confident that its listing under Proposition 65 is scientifically sound. We believe that our expertise and experience will be invaluable in helping the state defend its actions.”

Glyphosate is a broad spectrum herbicide that is widely used in agriculture, parks, home gardens, and residential landscapes. It is the most heavily used pesticide in the world, in large part due to the proliferation of Monsanto’s genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops that are resistant to glyphosate. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic.” California subsequently issued the notice of intent to list glyphosate as a Proposition 65 chemical based on the IARC finding. Under Proposition 65, no person in the course of doing business may knowingly or intentionally expose any individual to a chemical known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity without first giving a clear and reasonable warning, and the discharge of such chemical into a source of drinking water is prohibited. None of these protections would be required should Monsanto succeed in its move to prevent California from listing glyphosate under Proposition 65. 

“All California consumers have the right to know that glyphosate is considered a probable carcinogen, and Proposition 65 ensures that the public obtains that knowledge,” said Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director at Center for Food Safety. “With its lawsuit against the State, Monsanto is trying to keep the public in the dark about potential hazards from their products.”

CFS, a public interest organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment from the hazards of industrial agriculture, has been heavily involved with regulation of glyphosate. CFS was one of the first public interest organizations to raise awareness about how the use of glyphosate in Roundup Ready crop systems fosters herbicide-resistant weeds and increases the use of the herbicide, and has repeatedly sought to prevent the planting and approval of glyphosate-resistant, genetically engineered crops through federal litigation. CFS’s members include farmers and residents of California who are at risk of being exposed to glyphosate use near their homes and sources of drinking water. CFS previously published a factsheet specifically addressing the IARC determination and informing its members of the carcinogenic effects of glyphosate, and moved to intervene in court today to enforce its members’ right to the protections provided under Proposition 65. CFS members are among those that Proposition 65 is designed to benefit, and CFS intends to defend OEHHA’s listing of glyphosate to protect the public from hazards to their health and welfare.

The motion was filed in Fresno Superior Court and a hearing is scheduled for April 2016.



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