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California Supreme Court Upholds Placement of Glyphosate on State's Carcinogens List

August 17, 2018
Center for Food Safety

California Supreme Court Upholds Placement of Glyphosate on State's Carcinogens List

Justices Refuse to Hear Monsanto's Appeal to Remove the Roundup Ingredient from Proposition 65's List of Hazardous Chemicals

San Francisco, CA "”The California Supreme Court refused to hear Monsanto's appeal to remove glyphosate, a major component of the company's Roundup herbicide, from California's list of chemicals that cause cancer or birth defects. The state had placed glyphosate on the list pursuant to Proposition 65, based on the 2015 determination by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic". Monsanto challenged both the constitutionality of the listing process and the integrity of IARC. Center for Food Safety (CFS) intervened in the lawsuit to defend the science-based IARC listing process against Monsanto's anti-science attacks.

In refusing to hear Monsanto's appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the decision by the First District Court of Appeal that the listing mechanism in Proposition 65 is proper. The appellate court emphasized that Proposition 65 delegates the factual authority of substance safety to IARC because state health officials have failed to protect Californian residents from hazardous substances in the past.

CFS applauds the Court's decision. "The authors of Proposition 65 recognized that listing decisions should be based solely on science, and immune from political and economic pressure," said Adam Keats, Senior Attorney at CFS, "Fortunately, the courts saw through Monsanto's desperate attempt to assert its influence in this process."

The Court's decision to keep glyphosate on the hazardous chemicals list comes just five days after a San Francisco jury found Monsanto responsible for a Dewayne Johnson's cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, after the company failed to disclose the dangers of its glyphosate-heavy herbicides before selling them to Johnson's former employer, the Benicia Unified School District. The jury said Monsanto had "acted with malice or oppression" and awarded the former school groundskeeper $289 million in damages from Monsanto.


For more than two decades, CFS has worked to address the health and environmental harms of Monsanto's pesticide and GMO products, including and especially Roundup, though legal, policy, science, and campaign efforts. CFS has repeatedly challenged the approval of glyphosate-resistant, genetically engineered crops in litigation on behalf of consumers and farmers. CFS was one of the first organizations to raise awareness about how Roundup Ready crop systems have fostered herbicide-resistant weeds and dramatically increased the use of the herbicide.

In 2016, CFS submitted testimony to an EPA Scientific Advisory Panel on the carcinogenicity of glyphosate, citing internal EPA memos that document EPA's original finding that glyphosate is possibly carcinogenic, as well as Monsanto's intense pressure on EPA that led the Agency to alter its findings. CFS has litigated many cases against Monsanto, including the first-ever Supreme Court case on the impacts of GMOs and pesticides, Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms. Currently, CFS is also challenging the Trump administration's approval of Monsanto's latest pesticide-GMO product, XtendiMax, a volatile dicamba pesticide.

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